IFC.com presents the world premiere of the music video for the Dandy Warhols‘ “And Then I Dreamt of Yes,” from the album “Earth To The Dandy Warhols,” directed by Mark Helfrich (check out an interview with him below).
Director Mark Helfrich is a romantic. He’s nostalgic about his beginnings as an editor, back when editors actually had to cut reels of 35mm film by hand. He used to be a DJ too, and for him, movies and music go hand in hand like vinyl and a good pair of headphones. A longtime Dandy Warhols fan, he shot this video for their song, “And Then I Dreamt of Yes,” off of “Earth To The Dandy Warhols.” The “Dr. Caligari” couple are so convincing that you may assume they’re projections of original 1919 footage, unless you’ve happened to have seen it recently, but they’re actors in old-timey makeup jobs shot simultaneously in the frame with the band. I had a conversation with Helfrich about the ideas and process behind the video, and we didn’t shy away from a little guy talk about female nudes or the movie “Predator,” either.
Courtney Taylor wrote a song for your film “Good Luck Chuck” — was that your first collaboration with the band?
Yeah, that’s the first time we got together. I really like the Dandy Warhols, so I called them up and asked if they’d do a song. Courtney obliged and came up with the song called “Good Luck Chuck” that fit perfectly in the film. So we started a friendship there and he asked if I’d be interested in doing some videos for them. I said, “Of course!”
You’ve been a Dandys fan…
For a long time. Since the beginning.
So you must be aware of their strange relationship to the Brian Jonestown Massacre?
Oh yeah, I saw “DiG!” I thought that was a really good documentary, too. It certainly entertained.
Tell me about these references to “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” in the video.
When I was listening to the song over and over again, [I kept having] visions of water. And for some reason, it just popped into my head — the somnambulist from “Caligari” — so I thought I should integrate that. And I thought it would be fun to try to emulate the look of a 1919 film.
I like the small naked females frolicking about in the water/floor, that’s some erotically charged liquid.
So do I! It was a treat to put together the concept of the video based solely on what popped into my head when I listened to this song. And of course, naked water nymphs somehow crept into my subconscious. We’ve got the water, why not make it deep water and put all these writhing bodies in it? And there’s guys too, not just girls.
That’s just kind of how you roll, too. It’s reminiscent of a photo or two in your photography book “Naked Pictures Of My Ex-Girlfriends,” isn’t it?
I love nude photography and erotic photography, especially black and white — I got a chance to integrate that interest into the video. It was a lot of fun shooting in a pool at night with these water nymphs — who were primarily Dandy Warhol fans. We put out a call on the Internet for fans who would want to come get naked for a Dandy Warhol video. There’s this Gregory Crewdson photo that has a woman floating in water inside of house — that influenced me as well.
How does music inspire or influence your film work?
I love music and the integration of music and film. For me, it’s the ultimate when the two artforms merge magically. There are films that integrate music and image so well that they become inseparable in your mind, and those make the greatest impression on me. Like the use of the [Buffalo Springfield] song “Expecting to Fly” in “Coming Home,” Hal Ashby’s film. Like The Who’s “5:15” in “Quadrophenia” — for me, every time I hear that song, I see that scene. Simon and Garfunkel with “The Graduate,” [Roy Orbison’s] “In Dreams” in “Blue Velvet,” even “Soul Bossa Nova” in “Austin Powers,” the Quincy Jones song… they were melded so perfectly with one another.
I have to mention, you were the editor on one of my favorite boyhood films…
“Revenge of the Ninja?!?”
[Laughs] No, “Predator.” How thrilling was that?
I thought it was revolutionary at the time — the visual effects — seeing the invisible. We did a lot of preproduction testing on that: how do you show something that’s invisible, you know? Yhe heat vision was relatively new at the time too. That was a fun movie.
Back when you were a projectionist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I imagine a young Mark Helfrich dreaming, did you think someday…
Oh yeah, holding the film and threading up the reels on the projector, I really wanted to create a roll of 35mm film that was mine. That was a thrilling thought then. It’s still a thrilling thought now.