Director / Animator, Tom Brown On His Feeding Fingers: “My Imagined House” Music Video
by Justin Curfman
When Justin Curfman asked me in January if I’d be interested in directing a music video for Feeding Fingers I was delighted. I’d recently bought Detach Me From My Head and was struck by the rich atmospheric production on this third album, and by how much Justin’s voice had developed over the years.
We had been in touch since early 2006 when I discovered his website
during a short-lived stop motion animation craze. I watched his trilogy of short films quite often around that time and the strange world of “Tephra” he had created stayed with me long after I’d seen them. As the years went by I feel we were offered little glimpses into this world through windows that came in different forms: Curfman’s animations, blog posts and art books, Feeding Fingers and their music videos by directors such as Steven Lapcevic and more recently Ronny Carlsson and Michelle Alyse Rodriguez (although I have no idea whether the latter would agree). This is why I jumped at the chance to become the next explorer in a world I felt was much more expansive than it appeared at first glance.
Given the choice of two songs I immediately picked My Imagined House as it had a muted, numb style to it which I personally connected with and found pretty inspirational. The song itself seemed to be a description of a couple whose relationship had turned into a dull routine, perhaps living in the same physical space but emotionally distant from each other and reduced to poor reproductions of their former selves, putting a brave face on but liable to disintegrate at any moment.
Something I’ve been very interested in recently is communication between people. Is it ever possible to truly make another human being understand how you feel in a form as pure as the original thought? More often than not language acts as a filter, with the individual’s subjective experience and the words themselves turning the analogue signal of pure thought into the equivalent of a poor-quality MP3 on a hard disc. This is what I’ve been exploring with Magnetic Foragers, an audio-visual collaboration with James Allard, and it seemed to extend naturally into My Imagined House, or at least the way I interpreted the song.
I’m sure there are specific reasons for every image in the video (an alley near my house offers a view through a window into a bare room filled with plastic mannequins), but the ice and grainy old CRT screen effect were ways of representing the hard shells that have built up around the characters and the layers of “noise” that have got in the way during the decline of their relationship. The TV screen was meant to tie in with the idea of us looking through windows into the world of Tephra as I mentioned above. Additionally, something I can’t seem to stop doing is interpreting music as a landscape to be travelled across. I don’t know why this is.
As for influences, I very much admire the stark black and white work of film-makers such as Jim Jarmusch and Anton Corbijn (as in his video for Joy Division’s Atmosphere), but also the way Ridley Scott seems to build up layers and layers of (visual) atmosphere through lighting and set design in films like Blade Runner. I believe elements of these contrasting styles are in there also.
In terms of the video’s production it was a very straightforward job as I had so much time to create the animated scenes and to draw out a full storyboard, not to mention total creative freedom. The fact that the thing was shot in three different countries – by myself (in England), Justin Curfman (in Germany) and Steve Stussey (in the USA) could have been a real nightmare but due to the entire band’s professionalism and dedication it went very smoothly. It was a joy to work with Christine Schuster and my brother Alex Brown, who were more than happy to be bossed around and perform ten or fifteen takes of every shot. I am also grateful to Fiona Baldwin (hair and makeup) and Jack Martin who provided an additional computer for rendering the 3D animation.
FEEDING FINGERS: “MY IMAGINED HOUSE”