Wikinews interviews German music video director Uwe Flade

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Screenshot of Uwe Flade's music video for Franz Ferdinand's song Michael.

Uwe Flade is a music video director from Germany. He has worked with numerous artists, including Depeche Mode, Rammstein, Apocalyptica, In Extremo, Nickelback, Franz Ferdinand and Tarja Turunen. Wikinews conducted an exclusive email interview with him, available below.


 ((Wikinews )) Tell us about your work, and how you came to be involved with directing. What stands out about you, and what inspires you?

Uwe: I was into music videos for a while already, watching MTV for hours every day. Back in the 90ies it was very inspiring and exciting to discover all those new visual styles and watch people like Gondry, Glazer, Jonze, Mike Mills rising. I was then trying to set up a little film production company around 99 after being stuck in some office jobs at TV stations and other production companies. I shot a few little things and got the chance to pitch an idea to a friend who played in a rising German band. They took the concept and I directed my first video. It was a tough ride but the video got some airtime. The next jobs didn´t roll in easily but it was the genre I loved so I was fighting hard which got me more and more jobs.
I am collecting ideas all the time and I can´t really tell what inspires me. Sometimes taking a shower makes my mind work, sometimes I would just sit in front of my computer until the idea hits me. Travelling to places I haven´t been also often inspires me a lot.

 ((WN )) How has the advent of the Internet—and the switch at networks (such as MTV) from almost exclusively music videos to original programming—changed the way that artists approach what they want from a music video? Has the "big budget" music video disappeared?

Uwe: The big budget hasn´t disappeared completely but the number of artist spending a lot is much smaller now and the budgets in general went down a lot. YouTube changed a lot too. The hypersuccessful homemade style video for Ok Go "here it goes again" was a landmark for this development. It got over 31 000 000 views on YouTube and counting, won lots of prizes and got a lot of press. So the homemade, handmade style since then is a big thing in music videos turning the budget shortage in creativity. Some years ago Fatboy Slims "praise you" was an outsider, now it is a big part of the whole picture.
I think the artists just want to look good on the videos, that comes first ever since. Some of them still want something original happening but with the generally shrinking budgets a new style had to appear to squeeze creativity out of the mostly very limited money available and actually the artists don´t have a choice.
Screenshot of Uwe Flade's music video for Depeche Mode's 2004 release of Enjoy the Silence.

 ((WN )) Is it difficult to make a planned plot for a video fit the music and the short time on offer?

Uwe: For me it is a challenge and still the freedom of creativity in this genre is a blast. I learned so many things by just trying them out and playing around with them.

 ((WN )) Your credits span across many artists and genres. What's it like working with such a broad range?

Uwe: It is a great broadband, I was thrilled by the very different demands and characters I met so far. I personally like to do different styles just to keep creativity running and being challenged instead of repeating the same receipy over and over again.

 ((WN )) Which of your works would you say you enjoyed working on the most?

Uwe: Besides the big international projects for Depeche Mode I enjoyed a lot to work with my friends Sportfreunde Stiller. I shot 10 videos for them and it is even harder to work for long term friends since the fear to fail is much more personal.

 ((WN )) Were there any projects that you didn't enjoy making?

Uwe: Hmmmm. There are some;-)

 ((WN )) Do you have anything new in the works at the moment?

Uwe: I am setting up a mixed media collective of designers, animators and directors and planning a short film.

 ((WN )) Do you find commercial pressures, such as ensuring videos are not subject to censorship or filming deadlines, conflict with your interests as an artist?

Uwe: Actually I am feeling challenged by those things more then annoyed. The band and label pay for the whole thing so they set up the limits which is totally fine for me. The TV censorship in Germany is not very strict and I don´t have so much experience with these things in the United States. I saw some rules for US TV, very long lists of things to care for. My videos didn´t really break those rules anyway but there are a lot...that´s what I thought.


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.