I am so happy that the brilliant video for ‘David Dallas – Runnin‘, directed by Tom Gould is finally out. I travelled to the Hokianga with Dave, Tom and the crew for the weekend they shot the video, and was so stoked on everything about it – the scenery and the people, and watching kids half my size riding round everywhere on horses. It was a magical weekend, and this has definitely translated in the accompanying visuals.
I’ve been holding back on these images, not wanting to put them out until after the video was out. Now that it is, I also thought it would be cool to also have a quick chat with director Tom Gould about what went into shooting in the Far North, why he chose those locations, the important role the locals played, and a bit of history about the area. A kind of directors commentary, if you will. See more pictures, and the interview with Tom below :
You initially weren’t going to do the video, what changed your mind?
Tom Gould : I remember Dave came to me and was like, man, I’ve got this new song. He played it to me and I instantly liked it and I thought it was really powerful. But at that time I was on deadline with a bunch of projects, and I wasn’t really trying to make music videos, I was taking a break.
Dave left it with me, and was like, OK just think about it, and let me know if you change your mind. He left the song with me, and over the next week I kept playing the song, and had it on repeat, and I kept thinking, ‘this is a powerful song’. From listening to it, I started thinking of ideas and different visuals started coming to my head that I thought would be awesome for the video. I decided I’d do it.
Where did the idea of going to film it in the Far North come from?
What got me about listening to the song was the sample that Fire & Ice used, the Sister Gertrude sample. It related to imagery of a really rural, and almost country kind of sound. I started thinking of places I had been to that resonated with that sound. A few weeks back I had been up to the Far North, up to Mitimiti to visit some friends up there and went for a big tour all around that Far North coast. When I thought about the visual and kept listening to the song, I thought that would be the perfect place for the visual. I had friends up there and had spent a bit of time up there in the past, so I knew I could make it happen, and make something beautiful up there.
Did the fact that the sample came from a religious figure, influence you to use the (historical St Gabriel’s) church in the video?
Yeah, they told me that Sister Gertrude Morgan was a Catholic sister from New Orleans, from the South. When I was listening to the song, visuals of religious iconography tied in. I knew it would be special to keep that connection to the sample, also because I knew the publisher of the song had to give approval before the song was released. I thought it would be awesome to make a visual that paid homage to that Catholic background, and it really tied in with the Far North. The Far North was really the first place in New Zealand where the Missionaries settled, and some of the first Catholic Churches were built up there. Just over the hill from Mitimiti is a place called Pawarenga, where there is one of the first beautiful Catholic churches built in New Zealand, St Gabriel’s, that also had a Maori influence, in terms of the carvings, and everything in it really. I thought it was a beautiful way to keep that same kind of religious and Catholic connection, but showing it in a different light, and in a specifically New Zealand way, from having that Maori heritage as well. It was a perfect fit.
When I went to the Hokianga for the shoot, I quickly realised there’s no way that you could have shot that video without a local connection. How did that come about?
Yeah, that was tricky. Even just producing the video took a lot of time. We went up a couple of weekends to first meet the people and scout the locations. It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of local people. It’s a very small community and you have to treat those communities with respect and get permission from the right people. Lucky for me I had some friends in the Far North. A friend of mine’s Father is Bill Matthews. He was raised up there, he was born in Mitimiti and basically knows everybody up there and was really the perfect guy for me to call. I said, yo Bill, I need a hand in making this video. We went and met all the local people to get permission to shoot firstly in the land, in the area, and then in the church and on the beach, with the horses and everything. I have to credit Bill Matthews for helping out so much on that and introducing us to all the right people and really making the whole experience and the filming such a good time.
I think something that will have blown most peoples minds the first time they watch the video, are the horse scenes. How important was it having the local horse whisperers, Jake Dunn and his son, Jacob, involved?
I remember when hearing the song, it was such an impactful song, I wanted to film something that was bigger than just a human running. I wanted the visual to escalate in the same way that the song does. That’s why the visual starts off with little Mikey running along the rural roads, and then it builds into him taking over the horse, which runs to the church. It builds up visually from just a kid running, to on the back of a horse gallopping down this beach.
So I knew from being in that area before, that there were a lot of wild horses, and a lot of the kids up there are basically born on the backs of the horses. So I knew we could find a kid up there that could ride a horse amazingly. For me, that was the most important part of the visuals, trying to get a kid that could actually gallop a horse down the beach with no fear. We were lucky enough to be introduced to Jake Dunn who lives right on the coast of Mitimiti. He and his son Jacob are basically these amazing people with the horses, basically Jake was a young Horse whisperer and was able to communicate with the horses, which basically allowed us to get the shots that we needed.
It was really temperamental because you couldn’t make the horses just run around all day. They would like to do something once, maybe twice and after that they were off back into the hills again. We had to coordinate everything to make sure we got everything in a short amount of time. Firstly, so that we could get what we needed on camera and secondly so we wouldn’t stress the horses out and make sure that everyone was happy. The Dunn family were a huge help in putting everything together and training up Mikey who was the star on the horse and making sure he could gallop this horse down the beach, and making sure that the horses weren’t scared by the helicopter, and weren’t scared by us being on their beach.
They break in the wild horses ay?
Yeah, they break them in, So if you require a wild horse, they train them up and break them in so you can actually ride it. They basically know everything to do with horses and know their behaviour and patterns, and where they would be running, so it was really helpful. We were able to set the cameras up, and set the choppers up, and in a direction where Jake and Jacob would know the horses are running and follow that line.
It was a special video, in a very special and historic part of New Zealand. For me, I just enjoy being able to show that side of NZ, show that heritage and the beautiful landscape and history that we have, along with a great song. The visuals coincided with the sounds of the song and I’m really happy with how it turned out.