Beardyman - 6am (Ready to Write) ft. Joe Rogan | Directed by Ian Pons Jewell
Interview with Ian Pons Jewell about his refreshingly absurd new music video for Beardyman’s “6am (Ready to Write)” ft. Joe Rogan. See the treatment and final video below.
WDMV: Was this an open brief?
IAN: It was very open, but certainly with a hunger for matching the drug theme of the lyrics. Other than that, it was very open and I had a lot of trust from the commissioner Elena Argiros and Sony in general for the project. In fact I had turned it down a couple times and I think it was the third time that Elena did a final check that I didn't want to do it that I said yes. I hadn't quite seen the potential for it like she had. It's rare to have a project with so much freedom and she really pushed this in an amazing way. It ended up so pushed though that we can't advertise it on youtube and even reddit forum moderators are taking it down. A good sign I think :)
WDMV: Did you consult with your production company during the writing process and at which stage?
IAN: I was always talking with the video department. Leah Joyce, head of video, drove the whole project through to completion and it was important during the writing stage also. Ella Girardot also who is the music rep. There were many points I had a lot of self doubt and thought the whole thing was just ridiculous (in a bad way) and they were very important in making sure I didn't re-write it. The whole ending came about when I was talking with them about my doubts for it and came up with the idea of it actually all being a trip. I think this was key for the idea to work as an absurd one.
WDMV: In our push for more transparency, do you mind sharing how the video was financed?
IAN: The video was financed by the original budget from Sony, along with Academy, Radioaktive Films and myself putting some money in also. I could have probably written within the budget this video had, but knew this was a video I wanted to push to the maximum. We also had ETC of course providing a huge amount of VFX at no cost. But it was a project all of us were keen to put in for and it also involved everyone I work with in the commercial world. In fact, the shoot happened before the exact same crew shot a commercial. So our flights and hotel were all able to be covered by the commercial which brought us out to Kiev. So we came out a bit earlier than needed and then smashed out the video as soon as we could before focusing on the commercial shooting later on. Piggybacking is a great way to make these projects happen, though obviously a delicate thing to work ensuring the commercial isn't being compromised. I want to also point out that throughout the process Elena, Mike O'Keefe and the team at Sony were incredible. We had a brilliant contract which we hope will be able to be rolled out further with clauses added such as being able to use the footage in the event of it being canned, and also much better payment terms than usual. So it was very much a team effort from production through to label.
WDMV: How much of the VFX was conceptualized at the start of the process? Did you run test renders or provide references for how the nose should look?
IAN: There wasn't lots before we were in pre-production. The nose design happened during the tech scout with the VFX lead James Sindle at ETC. He's a brilliant illustrator and was doing drawings whilst we were walking around locations. I knew I didn't want it to be a long thing of flesh, with a nose at the end, the idea was that it would stretch from half way past the nostril, so it would create these long channels with hair inside when stretched out, and create more interesting textures. Then for the animation, we had it planned on set where the nose would go, but it was all brought to life by James' drawings after the first edit, it's hardly changed since then in fact. He did a kind of basic drawing over it all like cartoons which the animators followed. The animators then pushed it even more of course. But it didn't have lots of changes, they nailed it from the offset.
WDMV: How much of the piece was storyboarded versus how much of it was improvised while shooting?
IAN: The first half had what I would call main narrative pillars. Moments that had to be captured. Some had sync to the music like when he checks the bag and it's empty. Then, the other moments were timed within each "phrase" of the music. It had a clear repetitive rhythm I wanted to contain his performance in, to add to the clinical one-track mind vibe. Then from the text message onwards, it's all totally planned and storyboarded. We changed things here and there of course, but it was all planned in storyboard stage, then further developed when scouting. We eventually worked off photos I took during the tech scout as the boards were drawn before we were there in Kiev. Keep in mind we had literally 3 days of pre production. I arrived, and we shot 3 days later. The entire Coke Devil sequence was an idea that came about 2 days before shooting.
WDMV: You street cast for a lot of your projects. Did you street cast for this video or go through traditional casting?
IAN: I do love to do that, but this one was actually fully cast through our brilliant casting director in Kiev, along with Kharmel Cochrane who I work with in London. We had incredible people come for the main role, but in the end Jack Morris felt perfect. He was actually a suggestion from Ella at Academy, an old friend of hers. He's now become an actor I'll collaborate with a lot in future. A lot of the faces from Kiev are people I regularly work with, some have been in my commercial. The girl in the car passing the bag ended up as the main girl in my Bose spot coming out soon. The dandruff guy is in Virgin and Three. The Coke Devil is the jester in Three and is going to be in my next spot also. I love working with the same cast and having the same performers in different projects. I think it adds an interesting feel and for me it's like creating a home of sorts in my work where in my life I'm a transient.
WDMV: Anything else you want to add?
IAN: HUGE love and thanks to the entire dream team who made this madness happen.
Treatment design / layout by Juliette Fitzgerald Duffy
Watch the video here: