Tim Pope: Making "Wonderin'" Video with Neil Young
Frames from Neil Young music video "Wonderin'", 1983
Director Tim Pope
For the longest of times, we've really wanted to try and find room to put together something on Tim Pope, the director of numerous 1980's Neil Young music videos. For example, the brilliant single take video of "Touch the Night" with Neil as the hapless "action reporter" is almost too real in it's fake newsiness.
Tim has a great blog with lots of stories about his video work with a range of clients including Neil Young.
From the making of the music video "Wonderin'":
i'd made a couple of dodgy videos, as you do, when the phone in our berwick street, london, office rang one day. it was neil young inviting me to make my first american video. this would be 1983, two years into my burgeoning career. i first met neil in person at his ranch, just south of san francisco, when i flew up with his manager elliot roberts. i pitched my idea while neil sat cross-legged and barefoot against the redwoods, slurping on some funny tea.
"it's about a guy who finds it hard to keep up with life," i began. feeling the momentum of the moment [and doubtless fuelled by a little jet lag], i continued: "life speeds around him, like some dream." it could have gone either way - elliot's eyes were fixed on neil. then the man who to be honest i had at that point thought to be a 'hippie fart' lowered his shades. "i like this guy. i am this guy," he smiled - and fixed me with the most fuck-you set of eyes i have still more to see to this day. [and here's a man - me - who used to know iggy pop pretty well!]
we all reconvened in l.a. and neil arrived in a car that we had chosen from his fabulous collection of over a hundred kept in an aircraft hanger on the ranch's far reaches. this car we were to use in the video. he literally was my first guide around l.a. he physically drove me about the city for three solid days, in a 1950s convertible that resembled a jukebox on wheels and with fins like stilettos. rarely too have i seen a man quaff a burger like [neil] did for comedy effect. as we toured about, stopping at american versions of greasy spoons, gruff, burly, nicotine-y truck drivers in trucks that were clearly extensions of their own manhoods leaned out and asked neil by name if the car was a '56. "that a '56, neil?" "no, a '57."
neil young knew everyone in town.
to achieve the effect i had sold neil on, i came up with the idea of running the camera at half speed [12 f.p.s.] and doing the playback for neil with the song for him to mime to similarly. though when back to blighty the sound did not go with neil's lips. oh deary me. though after much [jiggery-pokery] in the edit suite, a place called 'visons', next to where the pizza express on dean street is now, we finally got it together, and the nice side effect - a kind of technical glitch - of neil's jerky movements. this is the video you see today, twenty-three years later.
Watch Tim Pope's music video "Wonderin'".
More on Neil Young film and videos.