What it’s like to direct film clips for Flume and Chet Faker

What it’s like to direct film clips for Flume and Chet Faker

We profile creatives Toby and Pete

Text: Yeong Sassall

Image: Toby and Pete

Piotr Stopniak and Toby Pike are a creative duo who have collaborated and worked for some of Australia’s top indie music talents, including Chet Faker and Flume

From art directing the film clip for Chet Faker’s Triple J Hottest 100-topping single ‘Talk is Cheap’ and devising the light show for Flume’s Infinity Prism tour – we get the lowdown on working as a creative in the music industry from Toby and Pete.

Tell us a bit about what you do.
Generally speaking, Toby and Pete is a creative studio that works in a broad range of mediums. Print craft, design, film, animation, installations etc. We conceptualise the majority of our work and are as hands on as possible when it comes to production. 

What’s your favourite piece of work you’ve done so far?
That's such a hard question to answer. We work in so many different mediums that we like different project for different reasons. We'll give you three in no particular order.

Steve Back - 'Jumping Castle'
Chet Faker – ‘Talk is Cheap’ 

Flume - Infinity Prism Tour 

What’s been your most challenging brief or piece of work?
Flume, without a doubt. We'd also say it's been the most rewarding. This project was the complete deep end for us! Our team had to hand build the infinity prism, from welding the frame work, to installing each individual light by hand, then soldering the circuit board and writing custom software to program the lights.

Then we were asked to produce visuals for the show. At the time, neither of us had produced an extensive amount of film and animation, so producing an hour and half worth of footage was extremely intimidating. We conceptualised the show with Flume and our team collectively produced to content over the space of three months.  

The final layer of the show was to make it interact with what Flume was playing on stage. He automatically triggers video clips while he's playing his set, giving him the control to manipulate the footage whilst he's playing. The hardest part of this project has been keeping up with Flume. I think everyone was amazed at how quickly he rose to stardom, so we had to be producing work at the same rate as he was writing new music.

But after all the challenges, stress and late nights, to see the work performed across the world to thousands of screaming fans was amazing and somewhat surreal. One of the greatest pieces of footage of the show was from the Snow Globe festival on NYE. Flume brought in the new year with his remix of Disclosure's track 'You and Me' (also one of our favourite videos we created).

How long did it take to put together the Chet Faker clip for’ Talk is Cheap’?
'Talk is Cheap' was really difficult. Believe it or not, it's quite hard to freeze someone in a block of ice! Chet was great to work with and contributed a lot through the creative process. We originally intended only to have him thaw from the ice, but it was Chet's idea to die at the end. 

This then triggered the idea of the changing seasons and the perfect loop for the video. The shoto took two days - it was mostly watching ice melt! Post [production] was the most time consuming, taking close to three weeks to put together.

How did you get into music video direction?
We had more of a commercial background before we started working with musicians. It was actually quite difficult to get into the music world - our creative identity was somewhat clouded by our commercial work. 

These days, we see our work for musicians as our personal work. We're now in a great position where brands are coming to us for the aesthetic we have developed through our work in the music industry.

What advice would you give to others aspiring to work in the same industry?
Get used to the reality that creative work is entirely subjective. There is often no right or wrong way to produce work. Don't get too attached to your own ideas, grow a thick skin and get used to going back to square one. It can be a very frustrating process, but unless you're working for no one but yourself, get used to working with people. And know when it's right to stand up for your own ideas and be open to others.

See Toby and Pete's latest video for Aussie musician Grace, 'Pluto' below: