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25th April 2013
Exclusive (POTF) Interview with Stobe Harju
(Director for Carnival of Rust, Lift and Locking Up The Sun)

Stobe Harju has directed several of Poets of the Fall's music videos including Lift, Carnival of Rust and Locking Up the Sun.  He has also worked on Alan Wake as Remedy's Cinematics Director. And he co-wrote and directed Nightwish's recent film, Imaginaerum. Make sure to check out his website, here and our exclusive interview with him below!

1. How did you and the band meet? 

I heard their song Lift from the radio and called up their agent. He arranged a meeting between me and Marko and it took me by surprise as he told me they'd like to make a video for Lift. We brainstormed together for a couple of hours and I wrote a treatment after that ended up being the final idea. I met the rest of the band only on the shooting day. It has been a real pleasure working with Marko, Olli and Captain and the rest of the guys since.

2. Out of the three music videos (Carnival of Rust, Locking Up The Sun and Lift) which one was the most enjoyable to film and why?

A good question, but in a way so damn irrelevant... I think every shoot has had their pros and cons. Lift, because it was the first, the most exciting experience with potf. Carnival of Rust, because it was the most ambitious, and painstaking shoot. Locking up the sun, because it was the first self produced video for the band and the idea was just crazy.

What has mattered, is that working with the band has always been a pleasure and they've always brought the joy to the shoots. It's always been a lot of fun, but also pain that has been cured by seeing the finished product.

3. How long did it take you to shoot each video?

All the videos took one day of shooting, which might sound unbelievable for the most. But, with a great performing artist like Poets of the Fall, it has always been very effective. Also, the budget has always been very limited and shooting a video of that stature will require a lot of equipment, studio time and a good crew. One day of shooting with these kind of videos costs a lot of money.

4. What unexpected challenges did you face while directing the music videos?

Directing these videos has always been fairly simple... in all honesty, directing a band playing is not directing at all because that's what they do on stage. But, there are a lot of challenges along the way but it usually involves the artist and some unexpected technical issues. For example, as we shot Carnival of Rust and had Marko in the fortune teller box, we never thought that he would be running out of oxygen and that it was scorching hot inside the box. We couldn't take him out either, because of the precise design of his wardrobe and special fx makeup. So Marko ended up having a serious migraine. If I would be an opportunist here, I'd say it was good, since he had to be playing a suffering character... and he really was suffering quite a bit as he was performing.

5. What techniques or tips did you develop or pick up while you were making the videos?

Nothing new to be honest. These videos had to be completed in a certain amount of time and we had to play it safe without making new tests in order to succeed perfectly. However, as we shot Locking up the Sun, we ended up trying out a motion controlled camera which makes the same camera path each time. It made it possible to have two Markos against each other simultaneously while shooting them with a moving camera. As it turns out, the system failed and we had to find other means for completing the shoots. It taught me a lot of things about thoroughly testing your weaponry before going into a battle. Nonetheless, it still makes me a little proud that I could come up with some directorial solutions that finished us the video despite the challenges, because problem solving is the best and the most crucial part of my work, having a good vision is easy compared to that.

6. Carnival of Rust is such an emotional song with an equally emotional music video, how did you go about deciding how to translate the emotion on film?

I think the video dealt with the heart of the lyrics. Sometimes you have things that don't seem important to you before they're gone, and when they start walking away and you realize it, it's too late or physically impossible to get them back. The funny thing is that the song deals with love, whereas in the video the setting is a platonic love affair between two challenged characters that have one crucial difference to the others around them. They're able to see how sick the world is around them and are poisoned by it. The inspiration to the whole setting just came from something that Marko said to me in one of our brainstorming sessions. When I asked him why would he make songs about larger tragedies of the world when everything seems fairly alright in Finland, he told me to turn on the tv and the news to see how sick the world was around us.

7. What are some of the major differences between working on a music video opposed to film?

One big major difference I can think of is about 85 minutes of final material. If you end up shooting 2 hours of material for a 5 minute video, think how much you should be shooting for a feature film if you wanted it to be as the same quality. I admit it's an exaggerated example, but it holds some truth to it. It took me four and a half years of work for the film, whereas finishing a video would take a month or less. There are other major differences as well, but it would be a long f****ng list.

8. What projects are you currently involved in? And what would you like to do in the future?

I can't really say what i am working on currently but it's big. I am also developing a tv series pilot in US and another feature film screenplay. There are also a lot of smaller projects coming in from my agents or other familiar people during the year... A Poets of the Fall video might just be one of them.

Thank you for the interview!


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