On the surface, the latest music video from trippy bedroom pop band Glass Animals seems like a DIY project.
Frontman Dave Bayley assembled all the equipment and shot the video for “Dreamland” by himself, after all.
But in this instance, it takes a village to make a DIY project.
The “Dreamland” clip is actually the product of an utterly unique collaboration, and one of the best examples yet of quarantine creativity.
Colin Read, a director who has worked with everyone from Radiohead to Run the Jewels, teamed up with the production house Pulse Films to meticulously design the concept for the video, and then ship all the equipment Bayley would need to film it, piece by piece, along with a 50-page instruction book.
“Imagine a music video delivered like an Ikea box,” reads the production notes. “Some assembly required.
The finished product, which features a hypnotically unfurling dolly shot, looks far too elaborate to have been created by just one guy in his apartment alone.
Which of course is the objective.
“When I pitched the project last month, I could already tell that there was going to be an onslaught of user-generated, simply filmed videos coming out soon,” director Read tells me over email. “So I tried to do the complete opposite: shoot a complexly lit, multi-layered tracking shot, with a cinema camera, in an interesting set build—all remotely.”
For his part, Bayley was game for whatever it took to make the video look the way Read had in mind. The musician’s main concern was whether he would be able to operate all the professional-grade equipment himself in order to make it happen.
Luckily for him, and ultimately us, Bayley’s novice abilities were something Read and his team obsessed over while they were figuring out how to pull off this mission.
“We absolutely had to design everything specifically so that it was possible for one person to carry it out,” Read says. “I started with the overall look and the shot that I wanted, then worked backward from there with the team to figure out how it all was possible. The art director, Bon Walsh, did an incredible job of designing a set build that was both extremely lightweight and could be assembled alone, using Dave’s existing roof beams to hang the set walls and the dangling props—all without Bon ever being able to step foot in the location. And I worked with Ruben Wooden Dechamps, the DP, to figure out how to make the complex shoot possible for one newbie.”
One particularly challenging aspect of the process was writing the instructions. Most people working behind the scenes on a music video have a wealth of experience and share a common shorthand. In this instance, Read and his team had to assume that Bayley knew absolutely nothing about how to use any of the equipment.
Or even turn it on.
It took a lot of time to break down every step of the process into a simple 50-page instruction book that covers every last detail. “Every piece of equipment mentioned in the guide was clearly labeled, annotated, and cross-referenced to a photo glossary we also provided,” Read says.
The director and his team condensed the massive stores of equipment down to only the most important pieces, and the most lightweight ones, at that. Despite their efforts to pare down the gear to only the most essential elements, the abundance of shipped packages nearly filled the entire foyer of Bayley’s apartment.
Filming the video took two days—one to assemble the dolly track and basic set and prepare the cameras, and another to finish dressing the set, put up the lighting rig, and actually do the shoot. During most of that time, Bayley stayed connected to Read and the core production team over video chat to guide him where necessary and offer feedback and assistance.
“It was amazing to find that we developed the same sort of camaraderie that usually arises on set,” Read says.
Although the video only features Bayley onscreen the entire time, at about the halfway mark, Read pulls away the veil and gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the effort that went into it. Seeing what it takes for Bayley to operate the dolly himself (it involves what looks like a power drill and some red rope) gives viewers an idea of all the imagination that went into designing this video and the energy it took to execute on both sides.
It’s inspiring to behold—and on more than one level.
“Artists are finding new ways to create art during this global crisis,” Read says, “and embracing these restrictions rather than be defeated by them.”
Have a look at the full video below: