Exclusive Interview: Director Patrick Kennelly talks about Clipping’s “Body & Blood” music video ahead of SXSW

Ahead of its screening as part of SXSW this week, we chat to the director of Clipping.‘s music video “Body and Blood”, Patrick Kennelly. Patrick takes us through the collaborative processes, artistic references and his favourite parts of the shoot. the AU review then gets stuck into specifics with Patrick, talking camera gear, challenges and post-production details…

Take me through a little bit of the process that delivered this often intense concept – was this something that you developed after being sent the song, or was it more of a collaborative process between yourself and the band?

I’ve been working with the clipping. crew and its different members in many different capacities over the years, so there’s definitely collaboration and trust across the board. Basically, the album was coming out, they asked if I was interested in doing a video and if so, what was the track I was interested in. I guess it made sense that it would be the “Body & Blood” video, particularly based on what they were looking for in the concept and visuals for that. Then I just kind of ran with it. I’d done stuff with them in the past that was really lo-fi grimy and abstract, so this time around I was looking to do something story-based that had a more clean, fashion-spread like aesthetic.

It’s already a pretty confronting song in many ways – how important was it to create a video that matched that?

Well, both clipping. and myself wanted a NSFW video, though I personally think its quite tame! There is actually no blood or physical violence onscreen.

To me, the goal in the visual of this piece was to create something exploitative that was About exploitation. The tracks got similar subversive things going on, as does All of clipping.’s music.

I never consider the stuff I do to be that confrontational or shocking or weird or whatever. I guess if I did, or if that was my intention, none of it would work. I think the clipping. guys might say similar kinds of things in regards to the music they make.

The casting process – tell me a little about that. Obviously it’s not a routine producer for full frontal nudity (and some very specific body types). Though then again, I can only presume it was filmed in LA…

Haha, yes filmed in Los Angeles! Actually, most of the performers I hadn’t met until they stepped in front of the camera. I put up a casting notice on a modeling website laying out the concept and got quite a few submissions. There were also a few performers I or my producing partner on this, Simona Kessler, knew, but this was the first time I worked with any of them before in front of the camera. I sent everyone reference material before they came, and then we improvised. In general, with casting, I’m always looking for particular individuals that are unique and or interest me and then I in part shape the role around them, versus trying to shoehorn specific types into roles.

Seemed to be a few nods to some classic videos that endeavoured to confront, Nine Inch Nail’s Closer the first that comes to mind. Anything that you particularly thought of in some of the early production stages?

Most of the references were either visual art, performance, or fashion related. Robert Longo’s paintings and video art have always been a seminal inspiration to me – so that was filtered through here, as well as the painting of Francis Bacon, the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe, the sculpture of Wilhelm Lehmbruck, the performance of Japanese dance troupe Sankai Juku, and a ton of others.

Of course, I’ve been a huge admirer and avid follower of Trent Reznor for decades – so I could see that influence happening. He’s not just a recording artist or composer, rather he’s built and sustained and continued to innovate with this whole multi-disciplinary creative enterprise for 25 plus years! I don’t think there’s been one false move, which you can’t say, really, for anyone else. “The Downward Spiral” and the soundtrack he produced for “Natural Born Killers” were the first CDs I ever bought when they came out – at Blockbuster Music! Remember there used to be that, heh.

What was your favourite part of the shoot?

Pretty much all of it – it was mostly a low-key shoot, as it was an ultra-ultra low budget with a small team, mostly people who were friends or who had worked together before. Also, all of the performers were fascinating and really great sports.

What was the most difficult?

Most of it was shot on the FS700 at super high frame rates (120-240fps). Recording on a regular flash-card with that camera, which is what we had to do because of budgetary limitations, you only get 8-16 second bursts at such framerates. So the timing of action in shots was tricky.

Did anything happen on the day(s) of shooting that you didn’t expect – that perhaps changed something from the original vision?

It was ALL pretty unexpected. I had a loose treatment…

On that note, how long did it take you to film and where did you film?

I think it was 4 days total? One evening with the band, and then 3 days a few weeks later shooting with all the other performers. It probably could have been done much faster, but the crew was basically myself and 1-4 other people depending on the day, so we were doing everything. We shot at Highways Performance Space, where I have worked for the last decade or so. I’m very familiar with this space and have shot in here many times before.

Other than the rendering time, what was the most difficult thing in the post-production process?

I made the mistake of doing everything directly inside of Premiere… once I get going on an idea, like painting, I want to see everything I’m working with. However, this time around, because of the paneled video, the fact it was mostly green-screen, etc. layering all these things completely maxed out what Premiere was capable of. Won’t be doing that again.

What cameras did you use for the production?

Canon 5D Mark 2 and the Sony FS700. In terms of lenses, we did a bit with a 50 and 85mm, but most was actually shot with a 180mm macro lens!

Tell us what you’re working on now/what’s coming out next for you!

My first feature film, Excess Flesh, is world premiering this month SXSW (on Friday the 13th). Its very very different from the “Body & Blood” clip – but perhaps likely to cause similar unease in the audiences…

One day I’ll make something “normal”… or maybe not…

Three favourite music video of all time… if you can narrow it down:

Warning: The videos below are creepy and subversive as fuck.

Apex Twin – “Windowlicker” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBS4Gi1y_nc

Fiona Apple – “Criminal” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFOzayDpWoI

Prodigy – “Smack My Bitch Up” : https://vimeo.com/43574586

But this is probably the creepiest: Serge Gainsbourg – “Lemon Incest” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LE06lqT0Y2g

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Check out the NSFW video for “Body & Blood” below. The clip will screen as part of the Music Video series at SXSW in Austin, Texas. Head to sxsw.com for more details.