23 Feb My First Ever Music Video
Sean and I sit, slightly awkwardly, attempting to catch up whilst navigating our new-found relationship as creative partners on a project that neither of us have any workable clarity about… We’ve decided to go for a beer the night before our video shoot in the western Cornish peninsular to attempt to settle upon a narrative for my first ever music video. I can’t help but feel that I should have come down earlier and been a tad more professional… But at the same time, there’s something about flying by the seat of your pants that I enjoy, and my old friend/new videographer seems totally game, so we plough on.
We’re in a small gentrified beer café down on the rapidly changing Newlyn dock-side, a stone’s throw from Penzance. Once a refuge for Cornish fisherman, now giving way to 7-pound bottles of niche craft lager. “Are you local?” I ask the bespectacled proprietor. “Yeh! Moved down from London about a year ago…”. The irony in his answer only briefly acknowledged by the wink I give my drinking partner.
Sean and I went to university together. It’s safe to say he’s probably one of the most wonderful human beings I have ever had the pleasure of encountering and while I haven’t spent any serious time with him for 12 years, I feel the warmth and openness that I adored all those years ago flooding straight back.
“Why don’t you carry a rock with you tomorrow…?” Sean suggests. Weirdly enough it’s the breakthrough we need to make a rather dull sounding videographic narrative of me wandering about the empty countryside, ‘looking pensive’, potentially a whole lot more appealing! Sean and I are trading ideas like two mad scientists. I already know he’s the perfect man for the job, because I feel totally comfortable suggesting some really weird shit to him. Not everything lands, but when it does, our eyes widen in unison and Sean cracks a laid-back smile signalling that he jams on it.
With night drawing in we retire, but not before dropping by the water’s edge to fish out 12 (worryingly heavy) rocks from the beach, with Sean refusing to let me pick small ones. One for every clock number… Or is it compass points… Part of me feels as though it probably doesn’t matter…
A dense fog hangs over bay the following morning. Cloaking the Cornish hillsides in an insulating mystery. My naivety worries that we’ve dropped a bollock on the weather, but Sean’s eyes have an excitement to them and I start to understand that there’s nothing that kills an angsty music video quicker than bright sunshine.
We pull up to a hedgerow after a short drive and begin the shoot by selecting the rock which will be the star of the show. Sean poohpoohs my first choice and to my initial horror, recommends a chunk of warped basalt that must weigh about 10 kgs. I know he’s right and my heart sinks. My shoulder already aches just looking at it.
I stagger through the hedgerow, bare footed, with a boulder lodged on my right shoulder. Very cleverly, the mysterious, existential ‘weight’ we are trying to artistically elaborate on using the rock requires virtually no acting ability. I get the feeling Sean recognised this in his choice of oversized geologic ornament, alongside his recognition of my questionable thespianism. Sean darts in and out of my consciousness with this camera. He’s in full flow, indulging his natural gift for capturing emotion and beauty through glass and plastic.
Ahead of me the mist begins to reveal dark figures, intimidating and intriguing in equal measure. My heart quickens as Boscawen Stone circle, with its crooked central monolith concedes its ancient beauty to us. I am in awe, and also strangely aware of an immediate requirement for respect of this place and its history. I am also flush with the first confidence that this experience will be a special one.
A little time later I find myself stood atop a rocky outcrop staring intensely into Sean’s lens, channelling my best Sinead O’Connor as tears roll down my cheeks… I’d love to say that the raw emotion of the shoot combined with my aforementioned acting prowess is encouraging this tearful exchange, but unfortunately (and rather thankfully considering my aforementioned lack of acting prowess) the wind whipping across the exposed hillside of Carn Galver is blowing the mist so unrelentingly into my face that my eyes are streaming… I’m also still barefoot, and my feet have begun to ask if this is entirely necessary after 45 minutes of wandering around a granite megalith, carrying a basalt megalith.
We shoot the intro to the video in an abandoned mine workings engine house at the Cornish coast. The chimneyesk house walls creating the ideal set to play with some vertical perspective. Lying there, surrounded by a miniature stone circle, I begin to feel the power of the pagan symbolism we’ve been employing throughout the shoot. The ancient vibrations begin to pulse through me as I lay connected to the earth. The trancelike nature of the experience instantly shatters as Sean’s drone marginally avoids a collision with my temple… “Eugh, sorry dude, it’s these winds and thick walls, they’re playing havoc with my flying…” My pagan conversion will have to wait.
The end of the day finally approaches. I’m sat on a rock at the edge of the frigid Spring waters of the Atlantic coast, transfixed by the beauty of the waning light through the slot cave at Nanjizel Cove. Like the pupil of the eye of Sauron, being licked by the rough wind swell of the open ocean, it is intimidatingly raw. The fatigue is written all over my face and posture, but these final shots are begging to be captured. Sean and I are both in wetsuits, mine overlain by the clothes I’ve been in all day. I shake uncontrollably. The cold grips me as I breath out and sink into the crystal-clear rock pool that forms the final scenes. I am exhilarated and exhausted in equal measure. It has truly been a day to remember and I feel in awe at Cornwall’s powerful complicity in our day of creation.
Cornwall’s raw beauty and mysterious history became the true leading lady in our final cut of Runaway Train. I wandered around, looking bewildered and got blisters and hypothermia… whilst Sean found indescribable ways to bring the whole sequence to life. His talent blows my mind and our day in the mists and winds of Kernow will be a day I remember forever, immortalised as my first music video. Hopefully one of many more to come.
*Adoration and awe going out to Sean White at White Moon Media, without whom I would have been warm and comfortable, but far less content.