“I’m baffled at why one video can have so much success,” Somebody That I Used To Know music-video director Natasha Pincus informs Anthony Carew.
The SoundKilda program in the short-film-centric St Kilda Film Festival honours the once-maligned-now-globe-conquering format of the music video, collating a crop of impressive clips from local music/video-makers. This year, Natasha Pincus has two selections in the program. One is Falloe's Science Of The Heart, which has been watched 9,000 times on YouTube. The other is Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know, which has been watched, um, over 200 million.
“200 million and counting,” marvels Pincus, with a shake of her head. “It's two million more every day. It's almost impossible to comprehend. I go to the football every week and look around at the 100,000 people, and think, '20 times this many are viewing my video every day'.”
The Somebody That I Used To Know video was shot in Lot Four in Richmond (aka behind the Coles supermarket on Swan Street), and, whilst it had an Eleven Music budget behind it, it still had an insular feeling; Pincus handling direction, post-production, and editing; with Warrick Field both cinematographer and colour-grader. “I edited it myself, and I remember being by myself at my computer, making those last-minute changes, making the final decisions,” Pincus recounts. “Sometimes I have this conversation with myself, back then, about if I'd only known that these decisions I was making would have such a reverberating effect across time and space.”
Though no one could've predicted the song/video combination would conquer the world like an unstoppable juggernaut – “you can't make a formula out of this: there's no guaranteed way that you can make something, you know, catch fire,” Pincus says – those working on the clip felt like there was “a certain magic” to the combination of song and the imagery of stop-motion and body-painting.
That inkling seemed to be proven when the video was, well, less 'leaked' than spirited out. “We were doing technical tests on a private channel in our system, and a diehard Gotye fan got in there and took it,” Pincus laughs, with the blessing of hindsight. “They were obviously pretty determined. From there it was instantly everywhere and that was our first inkling that this was going to be massive.
“Those first few months were pretty fun: watching it spread like wildfire, being sent all these random emails from people all around the world,” adds Pincus. The fortunes of Somebody That I Used To Know stand in stark contrast to those for Science Of The Heart, even though the Falloe clip is plenty pretty in its own right; a black-and-white, in-the-bush Western matching the earnest acoustic balladry.
How does it feel, then, to have one video watched a surreal number of times, the other effectively ignored? “I feel really quite strange about it,” Pincus admits. “It's not like I feel sad about it, but I'm just as proud of the other video… I wish I could borrow some of the success of Gotye and splash it on [Falloe]. People always say, 'You must be so excited about the Gotye video!' and I am, obviously, but part of me feels a little bit reserved about it, too. Like, I'm baffled at why one video can have so much success, the complete lack of democracy of it; how unjust it can all feel. I'm enjoying this ride, but there's definitely conflicting feelings, too.”