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Loud Visionaries Profile: Director Dave Ma

Bastille - Of The Night

All week we'll be reprinting The 405's music video series Loud Visionaries Week. Yesterday was all about Hiro Murai, but today they shine the light on Edward John Drake .The 405 presents their Loud Visionaries series focusing on the new wave of music video directors and creatives.

LOUD VISIONARIES: Dave Ma, director:

Dave Ma has found his feet, and they're currently buried deep in the world of enigmatic visuals and subtle camera work. The man is aware of what makes us tick, aware of who is, and is certainly aware of how he can translate all that into beautiful filmmaking. Bastille loves him, Flight Facilities came back for seconds... things are looking good for citizen-of-the-world Dave 'probably watching porn' Ma.

read on for the interview...

405: You've got a great origin story — Sydney to London to LA — can you break it down for us and what your influences were growing up?

Dave Ma: Music was my first real passion and music videos were my way into that world. I'd sit up watching music videos on Rage and record them to VHS tapes — early '90s shit like: Fine Young Cannibals and Vanilla Ice. Then Nirvana happened, and that changed everything. Wiped the slate clean. From there I got into bands like Shellac, Jesus Lizard, Slint, Tortoise and so on. When I got a camera at 15, taking photos of bands became my way of connecting with the musicians I loved. It was an excuse to be up the front and closer to them.

My love of film emerged later and more gradually as I discovered films like Baraka, Donnie DarkoFight Club and Magnolia. There was an emotional realism in those films that clicked with me. I was intrigued by the way they dealt with lonely characters marginalized by society and that has informed a lot of my work. And I've definitely had a growing confidence to apply more emphasis on narrative and character in my videos in the past few years.

405: Formal education vs. School of Hard Knocks?

DM: School of hard knocks laid over a solid foundation of education. I definitely believe you learn more about yourself by getting out in the world and allowing yourself to fuck things up and then learning from your mistakes. But a solid education definitely gives you a leg up in areas.

405: How did you engineer your first big break?

DM: I didn't really engineer my first big break — I just decided to get off my ass and make shit that I was passionate about instead of getting wasted every night - and naturally that opens you up to a lot more opportunities. I didn't wanna work in a bar on Old St. anymore and so when opportunities came along I'd just go for it.

405: How does each idea take shape for you now - what's the osmosis process - do you have any consistent forms of inspiration?

DM: Um...Procrasturbation?

Or more generally a cycle of... listen to the track. Go make a coffee. Listen to the track some more. Take a shower. Read some useless blogs while listening to the track. Watch porn. Listen to the track while flicking through folders of previous video ideas that got rejected. Get bored of track. Watch more porn. Go for a walk to clear head. See a car accident and body lying on the ground and imagine it singing the fucking track stuck in my head. Run home. Write the idea up. Read it next morning. Hate the idea. Send it anyway cause your rep is on your back about it. Get email saying they love the idea. Watch more porn.

Honestly though, I find getting out and away from my computer is the best thing I can do for inspiration.

405: Bastille have chosen to work with a great array of directors over the past few years—- was it one specific video that got you on their radar, or was 'Of The Night' a long time in the making?

DM: That one just happened real quick and naturally. I heard the song. Wrote the idea up straight away (I'd been thinking about dead bodies singing in a video for a while). And they went for it.

405: What was the shoot like?

DM: Two long nights. But it was fun. I had great cast to work with notably James Russo a fine and talented actor. Great locations. Amazing crew. Plus the band and commissioner James Hackett really got behind the idea which can make all the difference. They allowed me to do my thing in a collaborative way. I'd say choreographing and staging the opening shot from the car into the motel was one of the most gratifying moments I've had as a director. Watching so many people work together and bring it all together and hit all the marks and timings was a rush.

405: You've got what commissioners call "mad heat" — what's next?

DM: I'm working on getting a short film off the ground.

405: What's the future looking like after that?

DM: Features are definitely my long term goal. I've got a few script ideas I'm working on. But nothing I can spill the beans on just yet.

Written and Interview conducted by ELSA BISHOP. First published in longer form on The 405 and appearing here with permission.

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