The Drop

October 4, 2008

This was my first music video, for Peter Gabriel, made in 2003.  The story behind the making of this video, for me, probably epitomises most how self belief and positive thinking can make just about anything happen.

Having done Butterfly, and a few other commissions, I was feeling more and more confident in by ability, and wanted to take on an ambitious personal project.  I had always dreamed of doing something for Peter Gabriel.  His stuff had been a major influence on me as a teenager.  I remember seeing Sledgehammer for the first time on UK television when the song hit the top ten in the mid 80s.  It’s hard to describe the experience, seeing visuals of such enormous impact and correlation with the music was exhilarating.  Gobsmacked is the best word I can think of.

So about 15 years later I find myself writing/emailing his recording studio (Real World) several times, asking would they be interested in me doing a video for him.  I never got a response though. 

This didn’t stop me though, I came to the reasoning that if I just went ahead and created a video in my own time, put absolutely everything into it, so that if it was good enough, it would create its own force and momentum in finding its way, until eventually someone put it in front of PG himself.

So that was the plan, and off I went.  He had just released his long awaited new album UP.  The last track on the record resonated with me as an animator, in its poetry, imagery, pace and mood.

PG had commissioned american art photographer Richard Kirstel for some album artwork, which included these doll figures .  I took this as my starting point, built one of them in 3D, and as usual, without any storyboard or idea of what the video should be, in experimental fashion, just started putting bit and pieces together, working on one idea would lead me of in tangents into other ideas.  The amount of material built up, and it seemed obvious what bits should go where to create a visual narrative that connected with the song.

After about two months it was done.  I paid special attention to the lyrics, and how imagery and motion would cue up on certain words and phrases.  I was also developing further my fascination with choreographed, complex moving patterns, using the same techniques in Butterfly, which involved attaching sprites/images to particle systems, something which I’m now exploring in a new, unlimited way with Processing.

So now the video was finished, I just had to get it to him somehow.  And this was the magical part.  By pure coincidence and fluke, a digital media company here in Belfast, with whom I was doing some freelance work, knew what I was working on, and someone who worked there told me that a brother in law of hers was a business associate of PG!  This floored me.  Maybe the universe conspires to work for you at such times.  Anyway, I gave her a copy, with a small note inside, and with just 3 degrees of separation, I waited anxiously.

A couple of weeks passed, and the out of the blue came an email from his manager.  They loved the video, and wanted to feature it on Peter’s video compilation DVD called Play. 

Euphoria 🙂

I also got a nice mention in the notes, in the same sentence as Sean Penn! (who directed another of his videos).  Shortly afterwards I visited his Real World recording studios, and got a signed DVD 🙂

I also got paid for my work, and commissioned for another video (which I’ll be posting about soon).  So all in all, the gamble paid off, the hard work, a bit of luck (good karma?), and of course, belief, made it all happen.

“The Drop”
moving down the fuselage
toward the open door
catch you looking down outside
to see what lies ahead

one by one
you watch them fall
fall through cloud

one by one
you watch them fall
no idea where they’re going
but down

where they’ve gone
where they’ve gone

watching as the sun goes down
i sit inside this plane
notice how the city lights
are like the nerves inside the brain

one by one
they’re going out
you watch them dim

one by one
you watch them fall
and wonder where they’re falling to

Me at Real World Studios 2003

Me at Real World Studios 2003


4 Responses to “The Drop”

  1. Lawrie said

    More beautiful work Glen, and another inspiring story. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. synthhead said

    Thanks for sharing the video – I had not seen this before and it’s gorgeous. I especially like hearing the story behind it!

  3. IceAge said

    Incredible. Moving and beautiful, both the video and the story.

  4. […] but eventually included on an official DVD, and paid for his time. The song is from the album Up (blog post) Quiet Steam (6:27) second video for Peter Gabriel, a b-side track from Digging In The Dirt (blog […]

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