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Watch: DP Gregory Oke’s Hand-Scratched Animated Music Video for Will Epstein’s Golden

Cinematographer Gregory Oke, whose credits include Charlotte Wells’s astonishing debut Aftersun, recently made his first foray into music video. His clip for Will Epstein’s “Golden” is unexpected, a pulsing, sinuous work of animation in which he hand-scratched film negative as well as shot the singer and then treated the resulting footage in similarly analogue ways. Watch the video above, and read below statements from both Epstein and Oke.

“When I met Greg, I could tell right away he was a kindred spirit even though all the points of our shared aesthetic sensibility weren’t immediately known to us. Naturally, I was touched when he was moved enough by my music to train his nimble eye (and hand) on a film to accompany “Golden” from my album Wendy which came out in February on Fat Possum Records. The scratch/painted film aesthetic felt like a perfect methodology to pair with the song as the meticulous and nimble tactility of this approach was very much in line with how I went about arranging the sonic landscape of my piece. Sounds were placed like objects in space, hung like glowing lanterns, and then transfigured and transformed in undulating waves. Greg and I also discussed some of the visual imagery that I had in my head when crafting the song—particularly desert landscapes with their warm hues and radical detritus. I love how it came out and am grateful to Greg for his painstaking devotion!”— Will Epstein

Len Lye was the big inspiration and I wanted to emulate some of his scratch animations, I got totally obsessed with Free Radicals, which is obviously far superior to what I’ve ended up with. Method wise; I got 1000ft of blank, transparent 35mm film from Kodak and then cut it into 2 metre sections, at 24fps this is about 5 seconds worth.  I then spray-painted these 2 metre strips different colours. Once dry, I used a leather-working awl and a razor blade to scratch frame by frame, mostly abstract, moving patterns and shapes – knowing the BPM of Will’s track i calculated how many frames between each beat and got slowly better at trying to animate rhythmically. I would also print, frame by frame, short sections of video of Will singing the song onto see through plastic, using an inkjet printer. Then I’d cut these and sellotape them to the back of the painted film strips – after which, I could scratch away at the paint revealing him singing. Finally, I fed the film through a holder sitting on a small LED panel, photographing each illuminated frame from above – obviously this was quite painstakingly slow, but the process leads to a lot of homemade elements and I think, although at times maddening to control and slow to integrate, they contribute to the video.” — Gregory Oke
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