Director Brandon Dickerson talks about the Gravity video (Spiral Films)
Last modified: 12 May 1999

Source: Spiral Films
Author: Brandon Dickerson
Date: 1999

Brandon Dickerson, director of the Delirious? promo video for 'Gravity' explains how the video came to be:

The Video Idea:
I was in an art gallery in Glasgow soon after I'd received the music for "Gravity." This gallery had enormous rectangular photography in the halls. Looking close at the blown up shots, it became apparent that each still represented a complete 360 degree perspective of the environment. It was then that I first had the idea of a screen that would cover Delirious in a complete 360 degree with a split screen and a turning perspective. The song begged for movement and this would keep the video in motion. (I later found out that an exec at the record label actually became nauseous when they played the video on a large screen at a board meeting) I've been a huge fan of Delirious so I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to work with them.

Video Concept:
The streets of Littlehampton are a rapid blur behind a stationary guitar in the center frame. The high speed cinematography blasts through streets and alleys as the energy of the song's opening plays. The first verse approaches as the guitar zips into the Arendul Castle where Delirious is set up. The guitar reaches STU G's hands. The shot blurs quickly up to MARTIN as the first verse begins. The color is desaturated with deep contrast. The first verse captures the bands performance through wider and wider lenses and tighter letterboxing--progressing toward the point of distortion.

As the chorus begins, the band surrounds a center camera station inside the castle square with cameras covering 360 degrees. The screen splits into a top and bottom letterbox to cover both 180 degrees. After each line the rig will rotate--causing what was on the top letterbox to move into the bottom section and vice versa. The fluid move will be pushed further with JON and STU G walking with the camera move as STEWART and TIM remain with MARTIN. As the first chorus comes to a close, all of Delirious is on one side of the rig at the top letterbox of the frame. The bottom frame is empty background only and swings around on it's own to reveal a film camera pointing directly into the lens--completely blowing the mind of the viewer who thinks they've figured out the technique.

The second verse finds Delirious in a deep green room glowing with keeno-flows (florescent looking lights) visible in the dark background. The interior is chiseled with textured walls and an irony of the old and new (maybe what it would look like if a Royal Alien family occupied the castle, but still had taste to be minimalistic and keep some of the history). This verse is covered with a camera that zooms and freezes throughout to maintain the energy of the song-- covering each member of Delirious in close-up.

The second chorus is back in the square with the split screen taken to new levels. The 360degree perspective remains, but this time d: is on a platform that moves with the pan (i.e. the background moves as d: stays in place). The same moves between letterbox frames will appear even more surreal than the pervious chorus as MARTIN, JON, and STU G move between the stable STEWART and TIM. The move between the two letterboxes combined with the rapid moving background will do the chorus justice.

As the bridge, "These are the days. . .", begins, a wide shot of the entire band is seen. STU G, TIM, STEWART, and JON seem to blur and shake as if the camera were in an subtle earthquake.--MARTIN sings in the same frame without jarring. The camera zooms rapidly into STEWART as the drums and music break the verse. The lights and post-modern chandeliers flicker as if the energy of the song is pulling energy from the building. As Martin sings again, JON and STU G spin rapidly and slow down completely independent of Martin. As the song comes to a mock end, the lights go dark.

A pocket watch dangles in place while the Littlehampton streets blitz and spin behind it. The object screams toward Delirious in front of the Castle.

The final Chorus slams in with a montage which further splits the two letterboxes into three parts. Performance footage of each member individually will accelerate between each division. One of the 6 boxes will be close on the drums/ one on the vocals/ one wide/ etc. Some of the boxes will contain speed changes more extreme than ever before.

The boxes will cut away to wider images until we are in one solid letterbox of the band in front of the castle as the song comes to a close. On the final note, the camera zooms away and back through the blurred streets of Littlehampton.

On Location:
When we arrived in London, we quickly took a trip to a castle in Kent. The place was amazing and perfect for the video. We discovered an upper room that was actually a surveillance tower from the war where you could actually see all the way to France. The owner was quick to notice an American director with a set timeline and no other options--so he kindly required double the fee he had mentioned prior to the visit.

The first challenge was that this was an "official" historical castle, so we could not touch the walls or remove anything from its place. In order to put up the silver metallic material (over the very silly looking crests) we had to build a huge frame on the wall so we were not "touching" any part of the castle.

Shooting in England was a new experience. Call time was 7am and things were humming along. At 8:30 sharp, the entire crew sat down for a full English Breakfast. The downtime, however, was overshadowed by the amazing meal cooked up by Hodges the chef.

The "roundy round" (as Norman Bonney [producer] and I came to call it) was particularly a challenge since you could see the 360 degree world around you. The entire crew had to be lying flat on the ground or behind a wall where I was operating the turn system with DP Norman Bonney.

The original concept had a guitar flying through the streets of England and into the hands of Stu. We actually rigged his guitar to the hood of the producer's girlfriend's mother's car and spent an extra morning driving around filming two frames a second. We also had Stu G. hold the guitar and then drove in reverse away from the castle. We flipped this footage and grafted it in with the other high-speed footage to create a great effect that turned out to be too good. Virgin Records loved the final video, but thought we should lose the "blue screen" effect from the beginning. It's an interesting comment on how far technology has come--An organic effect can actually look like it's expensive (and over used) special f/x counterpart. No matter how cool the idea, if it doesn't work on the screen you have to lose it. You don't get footnotes on television.

Copyright(c) 1999 spiral films

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