If you like the Chemical Brothers and you’re into seriously spectacular visuals then don’t miss Don’t Think, the film of the band’s Fuji Rock concert directed by RSA’s Adam Smith. This is no ordinary concert movie. Go see. Here we catch up with the editor of the film, the Peepshow’s Mark Whelan.
For more information visit the don't think movie website
30 cameras, 6 terabytes of film, 8 tracks of live mix with visual spectaculars: how on earth did you edit Don't Think?
We had an enormous amount of great material, that's for sure. As a starting point we quickly made a rough assembly within a couple of weeks, so we were all able to watch it as a whole very quickly which helped put it all into perspective.
Adam had a good idea before shooting about how the film would flow emotionally, some of which changed once we were working on it, as you'd imagine, but the biggest impact on us all from that first assembly was the fantastic footage of the crowd. Emotion is really key to why Don't Think works so well I think, and you just can't beat the sincere looks of excitement, fear, joy and everything else we had from all the brilliant people that were at the show.
We ended up with a huge "cast" board up in the edit suite with stills of all of them, complete with nick-names so we would always know who we were talking about. So, as well as all of this great footage of the concert, the original visuals themselves, and access to the rushes that made those visuals, there was also this amazing cast at our fingertips too. Sounds like it should have been daunting now that I'm talking about it, but it just felt like we had this really great opportunity, so it was an exciting edit.
We worked on a song at a time, with each track having a different style and concept, then looked at how those songs worked as sections, and regularly we would view it as a whole with the Chemical Brothers. The edit and post were both done at ML Studio, so once we felt happy with a track they were able to start working on the post straight away, so it was a really great collaborative environment to be working in.
Quite often seeing how well effects and animation were working in post made us rethink what was coming up or how far we could push the concept, so it was quite often in flux, but in a good way. A personal breakthrough moment for me was when I got Star Guitar working. Once it was clear that we could completely mesh the Chemical Brothers, the visuals and the lights, the crowd reactions both of individuals and as a mass, and use all that to come up with something completely new and almost impressionistic from it which suited the song so well, I felt like this was going to be something really, really special.
Is this the first time you have worked with the Chemical Brothers?
Yes, I was the only one involved who hadn't worked on the live show at any point so far as I know. I'm a fan, so I've seen them perform live, but watching the rushes was the first time I was seeing a lot of the visuals. I saw it as a good thing, being able to come on to the project from a fresh point of view.
Did you have any other life other than editing Don't Think?
Not really! As with any project like this, it took over my life for a while. The days are long leaving not much time for anything else, and if you do take a day off, you spend a lot of it thinking about what you want to work on the next day. It's totally worth it when you're emotionally attached to a job and we all were with this. I felt really odd for a good few days after picture lock not listening to the Chemical Brothers every day. I think my girlfriend appreciated the break about hearing about them though, until the trailer came out at least.
Don't Think was a personal project wasn't it? We've featured some of the commercials you've edited on beakstreetblog, but what other projects have you or are working on?
There are couple of projects coming up that I'm quite excited about, but as ever with projects that are exciting, I'm not really supposed to talk about them unfortunately. One is a drama feature that should be shooting this spring if all goes to plan, and the other is a cross between short film and music video that I cut a little while ago and is almost finished in post. I have an ongoing side-project in the form of a boutique record label. The two worlds quite often meet whenever there's a video needed for it, or sometimes a remix video which is a little challenge I enjoy, taking a lo-fi video made by the band and re-editing it to match a remix of the track. I'm always editing something or other, I can't stop myself.