When a label and artist release a single, it more often than not makes a video to accompany a track, however with music television and the restrictions it places upon itself it can sometimes be a huge dilemma for an artist in what kind of video gets made.
Whilst music television increases its interest in moving away from showing formulaic videos towards youth programming shows like Jackass and The Osbournes, it makes it harder for an artist to get exposure to a dwindling tv audience.
Which raises a bigger question does an artist conform to the strictures of how MTV expects a video to be, beit an "edgy" performance video or attempt to do something more interesting and expansive.
Iain Archer -"Some of the best videos around don't get shown on televsion anymore, you're more likely to get to see them on your laptop at home - links sent across by friends, not just in this country but from
friends all over the world." John Dyer, the commissioner at the label seems to understand this and seeks to push the envelope as much as he can. He's extremely opinionated about what he sees as videos that do nothing for the music, he's been involved with those great Sigur Ros videos (for which ironically SR’s ‘Untitled Track 4’ won MTV’s 2003 best video award despite being played on the UK network once that the label’s aware of) aswell as the Mogwai ‘Hunted By A Freak’ animation where they're dropping the animals off the tall building to their death, the DJ Format videos and the Mum stuff.
Releasing "Summer Jets" - one of the highlight tracks from the album gave Iain an opportunity to work with director Adrian McDowall.
In 1999 Adrian wrote and directed his first film ‘Who's My Favourite Girl?’ which went on to win 17 international awards including a BAFTA for Best Short Film.
Iain decided to try and work with Adrian McDowall after seeing one of his shot films on the compilation DVD Cinema 16, featuring other first films of Ridley Scott, Mike Leigh, Peter Greenaway, Stephen Daldry and Christopher Nolan. It was enough for Iain Archer and [PIAS] Recordings to want to work with Adrian.
Iain remembers: ‘Having traced Adrian McDowall to Edinburgh, he sent down another short he and his writing partner Simon Stephenson had just completed entitled "Wise Guys". A tale financed by BBC Scotland and Scottish Screen it's a homage to the film "Goodfellas", set in Scottish suburbia. If you like the films "Gregory's Girl", "That Sinking Feeling" or Shane Meadows films, it's in the same mould and stands up alongside them.’
Adrian J. McDowall talks about the making of the video:
‘What intrigued me the most were the melancholy lyrics that juxtaposed the song’s upbeat tone. I found this really refreshing especially when faced with the challenge of visualizing the song.
Simon and myself were certain that we didn’t want to realize these emotions in a conventional way and always intended to treat this video in exactly the same way we would when making a narrative short film. So we conjured up the idea of an unconventional love triangle between three old people who are on a nostalgic day trip to the seaside with their cronies.
Simon Stephenson worked alongside Adrian on a few projects:
‘Wise Guys was my first film and comes from a short story I wrote. Since then I’ve got a few feature scripts in development at the usual places and also a few TV things besides.
In my teens I served my time in various local indie bands of dubious name and nature but always knew that one day I’d find my way into the inner sanctum of rock and roll decadence. This destiny was fulfilled when I found myself at lain archer's video shoot in Blackpool. I was not disappointed.
I was blown away by Summer Jets the first time I heard it and continue to be so. It's a kind of bittersweet, nostalgic song, so it was important for us to try and recreate some of that in the video.
Also, I think the brief that we got from the label was fantastic and ties into my hobby horse thing about music videos. Here in Scotland - thanks to many arts-funded schemes - we have a short film culture that is literally second to none in the world. It seems to me absurd that so few of these filmmakers venture into - or more likely are given the chance to venture into - the only territory in which short films can ever be at all self-sustaining: music videos. It was great therefore to be given the freedom to explore this territory, and also to work with people who share our love of narrative; for music as emotionally intelligent and complex