Director Sam Templeton On 'Ruin My Life'

Briefed with creating music visials for breakthrough artist, Luca George, director Sam Templeton discusses what went into making Ruin My Life.

[Photography by Jake Dennis]

Tell us about the overall concept and objective behind the shoot? What was the message the you wanted to convey to the audience?

Sam Templeton:
In short, it's a story of unrequited love and the effects that has on someone mentally and emotionally. To visualise this, I thought it would be interesting to tell it in three parts - past (memories), present, and future (fantasies). The past moments were like a highlight reel - showing us the source of Luca's infatuation via interactions with his crush. The present is him in his bedroom - overthinking, analysing and fantasizing.

For the future we enter his mind, where we see what he's really feeling, wanting and dreaming. The song was based on a real moment in Luca's life, so we were able to use that to form the basis of each storyline and build on his experiences.

Were there any particular challenges or obstacles you encountered during the production process? How did you overcome them?

Just the usual small budget music video challenges - minimal money and time haha. I think for what we had to work with we did an incredible job - shout out to the crew for all their hard work and open minds. It was a team effort for real.

What were some of the key creative decisions made during the production of the commercial? How did these decisions enhance the overall impact of the film?

We wanted to flow between the three storylines as seamlessly as possible but for them all to feel distinct in their own way. The past came as flashbacks in a sense - graded a touch warmer to reflect the emotion Luca experienced in that moment. The present was a simple bedroom shot at the start and end of the film, which we kept fairly neutral and a little darker to show the weight on his mind. The biggest decision made was how we got from the present to the future fantasy world.

Taking inspiration from Euphoria - a show with fairly similar themes, we chose a vertical rotating pan shot which we did handheld in the bedroom and via a jib in the studio. It was difficult to nail with minimal prep time but we managed to pull it off. I think it does a great job at taking us visually into a more conceptual space which represents his desires. The dream world is then much more colourful and vibrant, even though it exists in a deep, dark void. 

What were the main considerations regarding the choice of location and set design for the film? How did these elements contribute to the overall visual appeal of it?

The past and present were easy - just had to show them having fun and connecting, then Luca in his room processing everything. The choice of studio for the dream sequence then felt like a natural choice as it would strongly differentiate itself from the other scenes, but at the same time give us the flexibility and control we needed to pack as much in as we could with quick set and lighting changes.

As for the sets, we had one element that ran through a few of the dream scenes - a huge piece of canvas. This helped to break up the flat surfaces in the studio and provide us with some texture. On top of that, Jake made us this circular platform which could be spun - giving us greater capacity for movement in such a small space. This definitely helped to lift the tempo but also slow it down where we needed - something that was essential for a song with high highs and low lows.

Were there any unexpected or memorable moments that occurred during the shooting or production? How did they influence the final result?

I had this idea to use a projector for one scene to give Luca a sort of infinity replication look as he performed. I really had no idea how it was going to turn out, but in the end we were able to run the feed straight from the camera to the projector which gave us this beautiful effect where his form is multiplied several times in the background. It was one of those rolls of the dice that really pays off.

Oh, also the falling flower petals - we didn't know how hard this would be to drop them in a steady stream from above the camera as it's rising a couple of meters. Sounds simple but with no roof access or cherry picker, it ain't. Our Art Director Jake Feast ended up standing on top of a tall ladder with the petals sitting on a neg flag which he'd be holding fully outstretched and gently rolling from side to side to drop the petals off. He'd then climb down, scoop them all up and do it all over again because one landed in Luca's mouth or he'd drop too many at once by accident. I think we tried this like ten times before we were running overtime and I was like "Ok this is the last, last try" - Jake, Luca and the crew all nailed it and that was the take we ended up using.

Check it out below.

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