Grabbing the challenge of delivering an impressive CGI music video by the horns, Sam Mason (last seen on DN with the beautifully surreal Sinking Ship) drops in on a pair of autonomous cars in love as they ride through a world felled by climate collapse in Future Islands promo For Sure. A project which was realised over the course of 10 weeks in a small room in Brooklyn, DN asked Mason to take us through the creation of his dystopian-racing-melodrama.
Future Islands and I initially connected to work together on art for the record sleeve and singles. This was in April/May and they were trying to figure out how to do a video without a shoot. After hearing the song which was so heartfelt and emotional and the world being in the state that it was, I felt a real urge to somehow talk about our industrial decay and society falling apart and seeing the beauty and pain in that. I researched imagery of nature taking back over our cities and manufactured landscapes. We are all kind of inundated with “post-apocalypse” images, and being aware of that I had in mind a transcendent beautiful kind of world left behind where nature was free to move back in. A celebration of the end of us I suppose.
I decided to go in on a solo mission and just figure it out as I went along.
At some point, it became clear that I was missing the love story that the song has at its core, so I decided to cast two completely unexceptional cars, not old enough to be cool and not new enough to be luxurious or exciting. The two cars are meant to be like a stand-in for humans beings. They keep driving around long after we all died out until they eventually run out of gas. The natural world and all the animals watch with a vague curiosity.
It was all happening during the most intense few months of COVID lockdown in Brooklyn. Because setting up a remote team would have been tricky with the timeline I decided to go in on a solo mission and just figure it out as I went along. I used 3dsMax and a render engine called, hilariously, Corona Render. One of the challenges was animating the cars and I used a special plugin which allowed me to drive them in a simulated way using a game controller.
The initial timeline was 6 weeks but I got a few extensions that saved me and in the end, it was 10 weeks. It was a strange journey making a piece about the end of the world while the city of New York had gone quiet except for birdsong and sirens.