Fred Rowson has been a stalwart presence in the Soho Shorts office for the better part of two years. Lately, though, he’s been abandoning us to – shock – work on some projects of his own: music videos. As we face a future of having nobody to make irritating jokes and correct our grammar, we catch up with Fred to ask him a few questions about his new calling…
Soho Shorts: Tell us about your most recent video, for Friendly Fires.
Fred: This is a job that came to me via Colonel Blimp, the production company with whom I do most of my work. The brief was open, meaning that I could suggest any idea that I liked. My instinct is always to push for work that has a narrative or suggests a story – and I was scripting on this one around Halloween, so a ghost story naturally came to mind…
SS: What kind of stories do you want to tell, as a filmmaker?
F: Ghost stories aren’t far off – I’m interested in things that are haunting, both literally and figuratively. I like portraying the ways in which people react – or don’t react – to inexplicable events, and characters who are burdened or obsessed, often by things that they can’t understand. Both of my videos for Police Dog Hogan have good examples of this kind of character.
SS: What advice would you give to an aspiring music video director?
F: It’s about confidence, I think. I’d say that the difference between me mucking around and me actually working with proper crews, budgets and deadlines was the moment where I had to sit down in a room in front of a band and their management and say ‘this is my idea’. And nobody ever enjoys doing that, but if you can do it without embarrassment, and people like your concept, then you’re half way there.
SS: Do you look to other promos for inspiration, or elsewhere?
F: I love to see what other promo directors are up to, because there’s always someone making something totally ridiculous and original… but the inspiration I get from these isn’t too direct. When I’m talking to DoPs, Production Designers, and so on, I try to show them movies, paintings, and so on, rather than other music videos.
SS: What are your go-to online resources for Music Videos?
F: You can lose days on PromoNews, but it’s essential, as much for the list of companies in the right-hand column as for the music videos. But they do feature all the best ones on there. Beyond that, I like checking aggregator sites like It’s Nice That, which periodically feature music videos, because they tend to select only the very best or most unique. Then there’s Radar Music Videos, which is the perfect place to start if you’re looking to actually make something. I know a number of people who have done very well for themselves, pitching on there.
SS: What’s next?
F: More music videos, I hope! I’ve got a new video coming out in January, I think, for a band who are going to do pretty well for themselves, and I’m in talks with a couple of artists that I really like to direct something for them in the first half of 2013, so I really hope those work out, and then there’s a short film that I’ve written, which is going to get made at some point.