Niall O’Brien Chats With SHOTS About Why It's An Interesting Time For Art
/ Shots: Playlist / Interview by Daniel Huntley
What’s the first promo you remember being impressed by?
Dire Straits – Money for Nothing. We never had MTV growing up and I remember clearly, it was playing in a burger joint my folks took me and my siblings to way back when. It stopped me in my tracks. The lead up, the animation mixed with live action, the neon, wow. I was a hungry little shit too, but I put the burger down (for a sec) and my jaw dropped. I’ll never forget that momentary transportation.
And what’s your all-time favorite music video?
One of many is UNKLE - Rabbit in Your Headlights directed by Jonathan Glazer. It spoke to me at a time when I was playing around making film installations, before I ever got into commercially commissioned work. I could see it being in a gallery, it asked so many questions and answered so many at the same time and that’s what I wanted to do in my work, film and photography.
What other directors/artists do you look to for inspirational?
More recently Ulrich Seidls films have really spoken to me, the Paradise trilogy hit hard.This past year I’ve been reading allot. Right now, I’m back into Karl Ove Knausgård’s My Struggle, for the second time.Samuel Beckett has always been incredibly important figure as long as I can remember. My favorite play is Waiting for Godot, I’ve an English copy (Originally written in French) of the script I pick up quite a lot and been to a couple incredible productions. The Beckett on film box set comes out from time to time as well, there are some incredible productions in there like Play directed by Anthony Minghella with an incredible edit by Lisa Gunning who is an inspiring Director in her own right.
There is so much wonderful work out there and it tends to show up at the most accidental times. I think motivation for me comes from discovering art I’ve not had a chance to look at, it’s like watching a skate video and instantly needing to go skate. It’s exciting to have endless art out there and at a time where it is easily assessable, so many people making stuff and so much of it undiscovered. It’s an interesting time for art, no one really knows where it is going and that to me is also fuel for the creative fire.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Right now, Fontaines DC are blowing my mind and on constantly, a mix of King Tubby and a mix of John Lee hooker. By the time this is out who knows!
What’s your favorite bit of tech, whether for professional or personal use?
A mechanical 0.7 pencil and moleskine I keep to hand, always.
What artist would you most like to work with and why?
Anyone who has a clear vision and a vision I can connect with and vice versa. Even if it’s as simple as being on the same page on a personal level before an idea has developed, that’s all I can ask for. Also, the music needs to resonate. I’ve tried to write for tracks that I don’t really get, and it’s always a nonstarter.
How do you feel the promo industry has changed since you started in it?I’m not really that linked to it all but what I see is a lot of experimenting right now, I see a lot of new directors being given a chance to make cool stuff and really trying to push boundaries on visuals. The standards are high, and I hope it keeps getting better especially when it’s not an easy platform. The bigger production companies are understanding the importance of videos again and seem to be changing the old school commercial models to accommodate this. It’s still changing and probably will keep changing but at the end of the day so long as people are making stuff, it can only keep raising the bar, regardless of how financially challenging it is.
Where do you see the music video industry being in five years’ time?
I don’t even know where I’ll be in 5 years’ time! Making films about real people, I hope.
Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know…
I can fold my ear into my ear…