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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

An interview with James Morgan, director of the video for Cucurucu by Nick Mulvey

National Geographic photographer James Morgan shot the beautiful video for Cucurucu in Indonesia. I found out about this intriguing collaboration.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Nick Mulvey by Kaja Szechowsko

NIck Mulvey by Kaja Szechowsko.

Nick Mulvey, former founding member of Portico Quartet, releases new single Cucurucu accompanied by a stunning video shot on Nihiwatu beach in Indonesia by National Geographic director James Morgan, filmed in March 2013. Nick says: “I felt this song needed a video with wide expanses. Space to wonder. I didn’t have to look too far for the right film maker – James is a friend of mine, and I’ve loved his work for National Geographic. I knew he’d understand what I was after and have something special in his vaults…” So we caught up with James Morgan to find out more, and see further examples of his beautiful photography.

Can you tell us a little about the locations in this video – how did you come across them and is there any interesting history behind any of the locations?
All the footage for this video was shot on the island of Sumba in Indonesia. I was there in March last year shooting a documentary about the practice of ritualised violence and local esoteric beliefs. You can see more about that here. The opening shot is actually of a shaman gathering sea worms at dawn from the ocean, the colour of the sea worms serves as an augur of the coming harvest. For Cucurucu we decided to focus just on the story of these two boys riding their horses at the beach. 

Sumba-Pasola-by James Morgan

Two young boys and their horses play in the ocean in Nihiwatu, Sumba.

Can you tell us a bit about the boys and their horses?
The two boys are called Laiya Kula and Honga Dedu, we met them in a village in eastern Sumba. I’ve worked in Indonesia on and off for a few years so have a reasonable grasp of the language, I was also working with a producer and frequent collaborator, Johnny Langenheim, who is based in Bali and speaks Indonesian fluently. The horses are what makes Sumba unique in Indonesia, as I understand it they’re a result of Sumba’s place on the old sandalwood trade routes to China and Arabia. Now they’re very much a part of the culture. On another day we were invited to the funeral of a wealthy local landowner where a huge number of pigs and buffalo were slaughtered and, in testament to the man’s status, a horse was also killed quite violently. It was hacked to death with machetes and ran around for a good few minutes, it’s entrails splashing out onto the crowd, before it finally died. I find things like that hard to watch but in a lot of ways its less haunting than getting our horses vacuum packed and passed off as beef lasagne. 

Sumba-Pasola-man chewing betel by James Morgan

Ratu Dangu Duka chewing betel before the Pasola in Sumba, Indonesia.

How did working with Nick come about and how did you come to work on this ‘Cucurucu’ track?
I’ve known Nick for a few years and always been a big fan of his music so I was very excited when an opportunity came up to collaborate. 

Sumba-Pasola-man in hut by James Morgan

Tradition dictates that Almarhum Keledepiku must throw the first spear in the Pasola, a responsibility that he has inherited from his ancestors.

Is this the first music video you’ve been a part of, and if so how did you find melding the images with the music?
Yes, this is the first music video I’ve done. The past few years I’ve been focused on long term investigative photojournalism stories looking at underreported environmental and human rights stories. But even with that work, I’ve always been trying to push the boundaries of multimedia, combining sound and visuals to create a more atmospheric form of journalism. Music videos are definitely something I’m keen to work more on. I’m planning this year to keep up the journalism but also to explore more experimental areas that allow me to create more richly textured and layered films. 

To see more photography and film by James Morgan visit: www.jamesmorgan.co.uk Cucurucu is released on 3rd March 2014 through Fiction Records.

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