(Photographer/Director James Gooding)
James Gooding is a creative spirit who picked up a camera after a modeling stint in his youth, preferring to be behind the lens instead. The British born artist has blossomed into a respected photographer in his own right with a slew of advertising to fashion spreads under his belt. His real passion is portraiture work (be it any character) and now, by the looks of his new video released this week, you can add “Director” to James’ resume. Check out his video for Dirty Vegas which is listed in the Top 20 on Creativity Online this week starring Jena Malone.
We stopped to ask James a few questions about his work, traveling with Jena, and his fond memories of seminal MTV days…
(Watch the New Video for Dirty Vegas, “Electric Love”)
Is this your first music video? How long have you been photographer and what is the subjects you primarily seek to shoot?
Thank you, yeah, this is my first music video, it’s actually the first part of two videos we shot, when the next track and video comes out, they will sit together as one larger narrative, as one 6-7 minute film. I went to film school at 21 and started taking pictures after that, so it’s about 14 years now. My work kinda only really started to make sense to me around 2003 after I went to Bosnia and I shot a series of photos there that I connected with, so it’s been a process over years really. As to what do I seek to shoot, it all depends on whether it’s a personal project, a commercial job or a portrait job or a directing gig. I guess with people — whether famous or everyday folk— I like to shoot people in their own environments… environmental portraiture I guess you call it, or I’ll shoot an object as a representative statement in an environment. Location is so important to me in my work, it defines and conveys so much information.
Whats the narrative of the story exactly, and what made you think of this concept?
Ha! well, as to the narrative I’ll leave that to you all to make up your own minds. I know what I was thinking and what the varied elements of the film means to the characters and story’s development, but it’s no fun if I give it all away, no? I did though in the process want to go against what you’d normally expect in the aesthetics of what is primarily a dance or club track and try and shoot it in a bit more of a realistic real world situation. I wanted to tell a story though through the film, of that I was very clear. I think narrative is losing its place in music videos today. The music and the videos which are produced in collaboration with a directors vision, ultimately should elevate the musicians work, yet videos with a cinematic story are so few and far between now it feels to me. Personally, I miss those narrative stories. Maybe my thought process is just different, I just fondly remember a time of what a music video, for me, could be, it’s about telling a story, no? I’m just grateful to the band and the label to let me take it in this direction creatively and I hope at the end of the day the people watching it enjoy it.
Also, how did it all come together with Jena Malone?
We’ve worked on a bunch of photo shoots before and we became good friends through the process. I’ve always liked working with her and she fitted the different elements of the woman I wanted to present in the film. I called her up and asked her to do it and she thankfully came to northern Alabama to shoot it. What was interesting as a director working with her were the surprises I found when I got into the edit, there was a slew of little things that we hadn’t discussed, which in my mind, were gifts from her as an actress to me and the film and that was truly great.
(Freida Pinto of Slumdog Millionaire)
How do you feel about the difference between still photos and moving picture in telling a story?
Film is 24 still images a second and a photograph is one that hangs on a wall or is published in a magazine or book. At the end of the day it’s all about what information you present to the viewer. Whether it’s a photo or a moving image, it’s about trying to contain and present an emotional narrative or an emotional feeling to the viewer… a connection. There’s no real difference, just the medium.
(Edward Berger, Croupier, Reno)
What are your new favorite bands in your iPod right now?
I have it on shuffle most the time, but right now it’s always somewhere between Arvo Pärt, DJ Krush, R.L. Burnside, Kanye’s new album, DJ Z-trip, Cut Chemist, Elbow, LCD Soundsystem, the xx’s Biggie Mash-Up… and always somewhere in the day I try and get a little bit of This American Life in there.
What are you working on right now and what can we expect to see soon from you?
I’m cutting the next Dirty Vegas video together as we speak, I think it’s gonna come out late February or early March. The track is called “Changes”. I’m going to LA to shoot Russell Brant next week, then onto Rio, I think, to do a film on the Carnival that I’m trying to get my head around. I dunno, my grandmother just had to go into a nursing home, my brother in law just had major surgery and work is enthralling me right now… it’s life right, just one big fucking rollercoaster.
For more info, visit JamesGooding.com