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shynola interview

Filmmakers Shynola get animated with Collective.

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The acclaimed filmmaking collective known as Shynola (Richard “Kenny” Kenworthy, Gideon Baws, Jason Groves and Chris Harding) met at art college in Maidstone, Kent. After a shared love of “comics, films, books, art, music and walking in the park” caused a prolonged period of creativity, they moved to London and began taking on odd jobs while continuing their studies at the Royal College Of Art.

shynola - unkle
images from unkle promos

Their first break came when Kenny spotted an article in The Face about DJ Shadow’s UNKLE project, and decided to send his “student films and a try-hard letter” to James Lavelle, the infamous Mo Wax label boss. After months of radio silence, Lavelle called up requesting an animation for an NME TV show, and the four friends pulled together to create their first piece of work credited to Shynola.

shynola - radiohead and queens of the stone age
stills from radiohead and queens of the stone age promos

Presently riding a wave of goodwill and warranted praise, Shynola specialise in creating animated music videos divorced from the usual MTV sheen of fade-out edits and slow-motion slop. Check the 8-bit squirrel adventures in Junior Senior’s Move Your Feet or the sublime visuals to Radiohead’s Pyramid Song to see why their very British sense of humour and eerie individual style is winning plaudits. They’ve recently completed work on The Rapture’s House Of Jealous Lovers and 01 September sees the release of UNKLE’s Eye For An Eye DVD.

shynola - junior senior athlete
stills from junior senior and athlete promos

interview with shynola's richard kenworthy

Why animation?
Technically speaking, we aren't particularly good animators. Animation was a way into the industry, it allowed us to make pop videos on computers. We were on a very tight budget - the computer I used to make our first couple of videos came from a supermarket. We’re using live action more and more because we think it’s right for the idea, and the budgets we now get can accommodate shoots. However, animation is a great medium to work in because you have total control and total authority over every frame. It’s much easier to have an original style and to produce an original image by creating it rather than resorting to photography. Every one of our videos looks very different to the last.

What sort of mix is it between your ideas and those of the band you’re making the video for?
It’s a rarity, thankfully, that artists push for their own ideas in videos. However, when a video gets commissioned then any number of video directors pitch ideas for the video, and the band choose their favourite. So, in that sense, their vote is very influential. When you get down to actually making the video, changes are made, but if it is something we disagree with then we stand up for our opinion. It’s difficult in a number of ways: ultimately they’re paying our wages and supposedly employing us to make a product that they like themselves. As an artist, all you want is to be left alone to do your thing, and everyone else should butt out.

How did the video for Eye For An Eye come about?
We stayed in contact with James [Lavelle] since he gave us our first break. He mentioned that he had a new record coming out and asked if we’d be interested in doing a video. It was good because we felt like we were returning the favour in a way, it felt like a nice end to the first chapter of Shynola. James is extremely enthusiastic about his work and very encouraging, which makes him a great person to work with. I doubt that we’d have been able to make the Eye For An Eye video under any other circumstances, and James created that for us. James Rutledge 29 August 03

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