Producers Derek Frey and Hannah Cooper on working with the master of modern gothic
Blackpool, a faded seaside town affectionately known to Brits as ‘the Vegas of the North’, is the unlikely location of the new Tim Burton-directed music video for The Killers. LBB’s Laura Swinton caught up with producers of the promo, Hannah Cooper and Derek Frey, to find out about working with Burton to bring his waxy, wonky love story to life.
LBB> Why was Blackpool the perfect location for the video?
DF> Tim selected Blackpool because it is a place very personal to his association with The Killers. He first saw the band perform live at the Blackpool Winter Garden in 2006. During that same visit he stopped by Louis Tussaud's Waxworks where he saw a wax figure of Winona Ryder. When the band approached him about ‘Here With Me’ it was an obvious choice of setting.
LBB> The British seaside vibe seems quite removed from Tim’s typical ‘American Gothic’ flavour and also the source of inspiration, 1935 horror movie ‘Mad Love’ – how did you go about making Blackpool fit Tim’s world?
DF> Blackpool actually has many traits that typify Tim's aesthetic. Most of his projects over the last ten years have been filmed in the UK, including Alice in Wonderland and Sweeney Todd, both of which are set in the UK and include seaside locations. Blackpool has a very non-descript, yet haunted feel. Filming in November provided a very desolate feel which heightened the emotional impact of the video.
LBB> Who did you work with to design and create the wax models?
DF> Tim's office turned to Legacy Effects (formerly the Stan Winston Studios) who provided a foam head of Winona created for the film Edward Scissorhands. The foam head was handed over to Krystan Mallet, who served as Prosthetics Makeup Supervisor on Dark Shadows. Time was very limited but Krystan and his team were able to create the highly detailed wax head and place it onto a mannequin body over a few days.
LBB> Why was rising British actor Craig Roberts perfect for the role and what did he bring to the final project?
DF> Tim reviewed available talent with his long-time casting director Susie Figgis. Although Tim was not familiar with Craig's work, his photo made an instant impression. Originally Tim considered the male lead to be an older character. As soon as Craig came into the picture, it was clear that working with someone younger was the way to go. Craig portrays the quintessential Tim Burton loner with ease and perfection.
LBB> A night shot in the ‘Vegas of the North’ must have been pretty tricky – what was the most challenging aspect of the production?
DF> The majority of night shooting was contained to the Blackpool Pleasure Beach which had closed for the season just a week prior to filming. This made the filming process relatively easy. The most challenging aspect of the production was the preparation time for the shoot. Things came together extremely quickly in the days leading up to the shoot and the limited time allotted to film made for a long couple of days and nights.
HC> I agree with Derek, the biggest challenge was the short prep time. However the teams at The Pleasure Beach and Blackpool Tower were really helpful, as were those at Marketing Blackpool. I think we all appreciated what a great production this was to work on, and the whole team worked together to make it happen.
LBB> It’s not the first time that th1ng and th2ng have collaborated with Tim Burton (e.g. title sequences for Dark Shadows, Sweeney Todd and more). How has that relationship evolved and why do you think you work so well together?
HC> It’s an absolute pleasure for th1ng and th2ng to work with Tim and his team. I'd say the relationship has developed quite organically. We have expertise working in titles design and so we created some titles for Tim's films, but we also have expertise in music video production. When these skills were required, we were very happy to oblige.
LBB> You also worked with Tom Bird - what was his contribution to the project?
HC> Tom Bird, as Creative Director, for Universal and Mercury, was, without doubt, one of the lynch pins for me on this project. He worked incredibly hard, liaising between production, the record companies in the USA and the UK as well as the band and the management.
As we mentioned, the prep time was very short, and without his energy, I am certain we would not have been in as good a position as we were. Tom fully understands and appreciates the production process. He also works with th2ng as a director, under the name Secret Agent. He and I have worked together on many projects, including shooting Tom Jones and the Gavin and Stacey cast in the actual Las Vegas for Comic Relief - a great experience!
HERE WITH ME
DIRECTED BY TIM BURTON
MUSIC BY THE KILLERS
FEATURING: WINONA RYDER, CRAIG ROBERTS & THE KILLERS
PRODUCTION COMPANY: th2ng and TIM BURTON PRODUCTIONS
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