August 27th, 2014

Mill colorist Greg Reese recently collaborated with the brilliant director David M. Helman of Pulse Films on the music video for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s 'Always'. His experimental style and ability to produce innovative visuals and real human stories make David a rising music video and short film director to watch.

David's first music video, 'Doin’ Nothin' (Blu ft. U-God), launched his reputation as a music video director when it was nominated for Best International Urban Video at the UKVMAs in 2012. His other endeavors have gained considerable recognition as well, notably a beautiful documentary short called 'Lily', part of the TRIBUTE youth film series for Mainline and Dazed.

David spoke to us about his exciting career to date…

Doinnothin 1

What pieces of film inspired you most in becoming a director?

When I was younger, I had always loved watching films but the idea of making them didn't really cross my mind until I was about a senior in high school. I took some film courses at community college where I began to watch films with a technical perspective and started to grasp the creative choices the filmmakers were making. I think from there, the obsession began and it was just a gradual process of studying all the great modern filmmakers like the Cohen Brothers, Fincher and PTA, and then discovering their influences.

If you weren’t a director, what would your career look like?

I transferred into film school with the intentions of studying to be an editor just because that was my most practical skill at the time. But I ended up switching over to directing after my first semester but continued to cut other students' films while directing my own projects. My first job out of school was cutting for a local production company and had I not fallen into directing music videos, I probably would have continued to edit full time.

What are your top 5 music videos of all time?

"Only You" by Portishead(Dir. Chris Cunningham)

"Hurt" Johnny Cash (Dir. Mark Romanek)

"What Else is There" by Royksopp (Dir. Martin De Thurah)

"Rabbit in Your Headlights" by UNKLE (Dir. Jonathan Glazer)

"Pursuit" Gesaffelstein (Dir. Fleur & Manu)

Who are your favorite musicians?

Thom Yorke, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Have Heart, Blu, Flying Lotus, etc.

If you could work with anyone, who would it be?

I'd love to collaborate with Kendrick [Lamar] or shoot something really strange with Mac Demarco.

What was your inspiration for “As Always” by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah?

Alec [Ounsworth] from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah sent over a few of the unfinished mp3's and basically told me to pick whichever song I wanted. At the time the songs didn't have titles so I would just listen to the tracks continuously. I remember the chorus "sooner or later I will change" stuck with me. Something about that line and Alec's voice just sounded so desperate. I wanted to embody that sentiment in a character who wanted to destroy his bad habits but lacked the spine to go through with it.

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Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?

Alive and directing films.

Up next from David is "Waves", a short film graded by Greg Reese starring Keith Stanfield and Ben York Jones.