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Tuesday 18 October 2011

Aesthetica Short Film Festival | Online Exclusives | Rhett Wade-Ferrell | Sparkadia's China

Incorporating creative programming and alternative venues, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) is the latest addition to the film festival circuit. To celebrate the launch of ASFF, we are running a series of interviews with the filmmakers throughout October. Here you can find out more about what motivates our filmmakers, and ASFF will give you the opportunity to experience their short films first hand. To watch these films, visit the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) website to purchase your ticket. Don't miss your opportunity to experience short film in the historic city of York.

Rhett Wade-Ferrell at Moopjaw, Director & Producer of the music video for Sparkadia's China was shot in Victoria, Australia earlier this year. Rhett spoke to Aesthetica about the video, hip-hop and being friends with Jay-Z.

You can see China in the following venues during ASFF:
Friday 4 November: Bar Lane Studios 11:00 - 17:30
Saturday 5 November: Bar Lane Studios 11:00 - 17:30

Firstly, congratulations on being in the Official ASFF Selection! What impact do you think this screening will have on your career?

I'm not sure what impact it will have on my career in the long term but it's great to have music videos screened in a more social forum, as opposed to just on YouTube where discussions can only take place online.

How do you describe your work?

That's difficult as I'm still at the early stages of developing my own style, and the process of understanding my method of working is more of a slow burn than a clear cut vision. I have been using this term I came up with recently, Hifi/Lofi, which has helped me to define what me and the team at Moopjaw do with our music videos. It's basically the juxtaposition of Lofi elements like cheap props and playful acts and Hifi production. In this way, our videos make for different views because you're watching something with a DIY aesthetic, coupled with high production values. We think this makes for a humorous viewing experience.

Could you tell me a little about the film and how it came about?

Absolutely. The label sent me a copy of the song and I honestly couldn't work out if the song was serious or not. I put some time into researching the band, and it did seem like the singer was a reasonably serious guy, and given that the only way I could see a music video working for the song was if it was verging on the ridiculous and made a point about the big choruses and key changes in the song. I also had him play it really straight, that way you can't tell how he feels about everything going on around him.

What were some of the challenges involved in making the music video?

Rhia who is driving the car couldn't actually drive a manual gear shift so it's the Director of Photography doing the driving and we have Rhia sitting in the passenger seat pretending to drive. I think she pulled it of! Also the girl with the cut on he knee (wearing roller skates) was supposed to skate around the crocodile with a piece of rope and tie him up, although when she arrived we realised she couldn't skate at all. We changed the scene to what you see in the video which I was was a much better result. The guy kickboxing on the cliff nearly threw up because it was so hot and he had only just eaten, there are also some other difficult scenes in the video, for example the shot with the egg in the face. That's a hard role to fill and in the end, it was actually the art director and stylist who did it.

What is your all time favourite music video?

Its hard to have a favourite music video because I think what I tend to like at the time is relevant to whatever is happening at that time. For me I always get excited when someone does something completely different to everything else. It’s nice when something is completely off trend and a different approach or way of seeing the form of music videos. It’s an obvious choice but I still always come back to Spike Jonze, purely because I think his work in MV’s is not only interesting and unique ideas but most of all I think they make the music exciting and the artist exciting. I think they really make people want to hear the song again and again and he manages to get the right kind of performance from the artists he works with so as a viewer you actually feel like you are seeing a real part of their personality.

I will use the most recent example to explain what I am saying, take the Jay Z and Kanye video for Otis, its still a hip hop video with all the icons and trademarks in it, but it makes me laugh and think to myself “Jay Z and me could really be friends, we could mess around on the weekend and share a few laughs”. I am sure that is not the case, but that side of his personality comes through in the video because he breaks character in a way I haven’t really seen him do before. This is something I think Spike is a real master of when it comes to working with talent. I think Kanye is pretty flat in terms of presence in that video but Jay Z is such a big character that it’s hard to stand out next to him visually and sonically. I think I would also really like to drive the car in it…

What are you working on next?

Well, I am back in New York now and have just signed to a production company called Rabbit. I hope to be directing some more commercial projects whilst I finish off my first feature film script, which we will start working on in February 2012. This is really exciting for me as I have always wanted to work in feature films and it's taken a lot of work to get me to the point where I am ready to get back to narrative storytelling. I made two narrative films in 2005, and if I had submitted these, I don't think I would be in this festival! My producer tells me I am better off trying to get funding for a feature with only music videos to my name, than presenting a bunch of average short films so, for not, I am keeping those two little gems in the dark!


The Aesthetica Short Film Festival is the first film festival ever to be hosted in the historic city of York. The festival is a celebration of independent film from across the world with 150 films being screened from 30 countries. ASFF opens 3 November and continues until 6 November. For tickets and further information visit the website www.asff.co.uk or call (+44) (0) 1904 629 137.

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