With more than 12 years of experience, self-taught filmmaker Jethro Massey has created videos for some of the world’s leading brands including Givenchy, Condé Nast and LiveNation. If that wasn’t impressive enough, Massey has also worked for different TV channels across Europe, the United States, South America, and the Middle East. His latest accomplishment was winning the Judges Choice Award at the Ibiza Music Video Festival 2015 for Hailey Tuck’s music video All I Do Is Think Of You. We asked Massey about his camera gear, his creative process and his upcoming projects.
TH: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What do you do?
JM: I’m a self-taught filmmaker, working professionally in Paris & London for the last 12 years. I shoot music videos, fiction and occasionally documentaries, as well as a little corporate work to help pay the bills. I’ve been making films since I was given a super 8 camera when I was a boy. Learning to shoot and edit on film really made me value a “think before you act” attitude, which I think is often a little lost in digital filmmaking.
TH: Do you have any favorite filmmakers that have inspired you?
JM: David Lynch, Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, Michel Gondry, for creating worlds and stories that are out of the ordinary, Francois Truffaut (wonderful characters and stories) and the great silent comics, who made every gesture count. Recently, Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster with Colin Farrell & Rachel Weisz has really got into my head.
TH: How did you come up with your concept for Hailey Tuck “All I do is think of you”?
JM: Hailey came to me with the song, which is a 1920s style Jazz rendition of a 1970s Jackson 5 song. Looking at old Jackson 5 videos, I fell in love with the cheesy choreography of the era. Looking for a way to marry that with Hailey’s 1920s vibe, we hit upon the idea of using the “Biba” look, which was a 1970s movement in London that leaned heavily on 1920s fashion. I had a great location that I’d scouted for another project, and it turned out that a few of my stylist and make-up friends were real experts on the era. The feel of the music lent itself to an “end of the party vibe,” we threw in a little love story that built on the theme of the song, and that was it.
TH: What is your creative process like?
JM: Collaborative. I love bringing to life worlds that don’t exist in every day life, and for that you need a great creative team. In terms of preparation for a music video, I listen to a song on loop with a cup of coffee in front of me and note the ideas and images that come to mind until I find something I’d really like to see on screen. I spend a lot of time going through the shot list ahead of filming, making sure every image we plan to shoot serves the story. That way, on set I know what I need from each set-up, and when a performer or the DoP comes up to me with a question or an idea, I know exactly what we need to achieve, and if that great shot or gesture they propose could help make it a better film.
TH: What advice do you wish you had when you first started out?
JM: I’m not sure. But the best piece of advice I was ever given was very simple: Work on your storytelling. It was a sentence that was vague enough to leave me to make my own discoveries, but it stayed with me, and is key to everything I do.
TH: What camera(s) and len(s) do you usually use to film?
JM: It depends on the project and the budget, I’ve shot music videos on RED, C300 and 7D. “All I do is think of you” was shot on a Sony A7S (we added the grain and 70s colour grade in post). The next short film I’m making will be shot on 35mm with an Arri 435, we’ve managed to get our hands on a set of beautiful vintage Canon K series lenses, which I’m really looking forward to playing with.
TH: Do you have any projects you are currently working on, or planning on doing?
JM: I’m currently in pre-production for a short film, Trauma Industries, which we’ll shoot in spring this year. It’s a dystopian science-fiction inspired by Soviet Realist imagery. It’s a film that asks “What would 2016 look like through the eyes of a 1950s propaganda film?” We’re shooting on 35mm, editing on an old Steenbeck table, and we’ll be dressing the cast and crew of 100+ people in vintage 1950s work clothes for filming.
TH: What did you do when you found out your Hailey Tuck music video won Judges Choice Award at IMVF?
JM: I smiled, and congratulated the cast and crew for their great work.
TH: Favorite music video of all time?
JM: “Rabbit In Your Headlights” by UNKLE feat. Thom Yorke, directed by Jonathan Glazer.