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Interview: Director Grant Singer

Music video director Grant Singer has a reputation for his stark, challenging aesthetic and intriguing characters.

Singer has worked with acts across the indie and electro spectrum, including Sky Ferreira, Skrillex, Ariel Pink, LIttle Dragon, Sleigh Bells, Foxygen and The Weeknd. His work is defined by its imperfections; celebrating the mundane elements of life, and gritty reality of the world around us. No work of his typifies this better than his video for Ariel Pink's 'Dayzed Inn Daydreams', for which he was Shortlisted at the D&AD Next Awards 2015. 

In the interview below, Singer talks about his creative process. 

What was the inspiration for your Dayzed Inn Daydreams film?

I was inspired by Rick Wilder, the man we ended up casting to play the lead in the film. I had seen him in an elevator four years prior and was immediately captivated by his appearance. Since that brief encounter I knew I wanted to make something with him in it. After years of trying to track him down, I finally got in contact with him and told him about what I wanted to do, and how the film could not be made with anyone other than him. 

What was the process from idea to finished film?

It began with casting Rick and finding the perfect setting. Oildale is a neighbourhood in north Bakersfield that's unlike anywhere I'd been. It's very bleak and very hopeless and it felt like the right location that embodied the tone which I was after. I spent a few days exploring the area. Every location was walking distance to one another. We recreated the realism that Rick would have if he actually lived there and that was his life. That was important; to create a sense of realism that blurred the lines between fiction and documentary. 

What was the biggest challenge when making the film?

Making it for the modest budget that we had. We didn't have much money to pay for locations or talent so it came down to charm and a lot of convincing. Although to be honest it wasn't a challenging film to make. It almost felt serendipitous in how well it all came together. 

What has been the key to your success?

I don't give up. I find a way and I surround myself with people who share that characteristic. I set pretty high expectations and I do my best to meet them. 

How valuable are self-initiated projects?

I think pretty valuable. You never know when work's going to come so I think it's important to create work for yourself. 

The D&AD Next Director Award aims to discover and showcase the next generation of talented directors from around the world. Are you next?

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