Video Chats: Ben Fee on "Young Fathers" by Typhoon

Posted by Doug Klinger on February 21, 2014 in Interviews

Staff Post

Ben Fee

The video for “Young Fathers” by Typhoon basically shows what would happen if Calvin and Hobbes protected and cared for a cosmic cocoon until it morphed into Stelth Ulvang (of The Lumineers) covered from head to toe in red body paint. Directed by Ben Fee, “Young Fathers” is the story of a young boy and his imaginary friend who embark on a journey that mirrors the youthful spirit of the song. We talked to Ben about the song’s influence on the video, the character and costume design, and casting Stelth Ulvang as both the creature and redman.

IMVDb: How influential was the song when coming up with the concept for the video?

Ben: The song is always a huge part of the concept for me. The video always starts with a feeling. Then it's turning that feeling into a story. The song is called "Young Fathers" and I just felt like seeing some young, wild, uninhibited folks caring for something, and nurturing something to the point of self sustaining existence, then through a metamorphosis. Or something. Haha. But also, that last chunk of the video... sometimes the song just drives an image into your head when you're brainstorming, and you just make it work somehow. And this song is five amazing little songs strung into one masterpiece, so I wanted to put some chapters and shifts on the screen to complement those shifts in the music.

Ben Fee

IMVDb: Typhoon is a Portland-based band, is that where you guys shot this?

Ben: We shot this on a sound stage in Venezuala. Or around Marin county, California. Point Reyes area n stuff. One of those.

IMVDb: Was the creature character design inspired by anything in particular?

Ben: For the costume, I wanted a human shape, for relatability, but I wanted it to feel like a wild form created by the hands of a boy who wanted a cool looking buddy. This process was mostly through discussions with my production designer/costume designer Margaux Rust. All I did was talk talk talk, and I trust her completely. I knew she would find a balance between homemade, absurd, fun, rugged, and adventurous. And killer. Always killer.

Ben Fee

IMVDb: Stelth Ulvang, who is a member of The Lumineers, plays the creature/redman in the video. How'd he end up playing that part?

Ben: Stelth is a really great friend. His girlfriend, Norah, is not only a crew member on most of my shoots, but she's an extra in most as well (she's the dancer in Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside's "They Told Me" video, a knife-giver is Quiet Life's "Record Time," and a waiting soul in K.Flay's "Rawks"). Stelth had a few days off around then, and was going to be around hanging with Norah, so my producer Colin asked him if he'd be down. Stelth, being one to chase life in the best directions, immediately said YES. And to know Stelth, is to know a big 12 year old who can just so happen to play every instrument and talk his way in and out of any situation. He was perfect. He and Noah got along famously. (Stelth is also a gracious gentleman. After spending two days with Noah, his counterpart, he invited Noah and his family to come see The Lumineers play in San Francisco later that month. That's a classy guy.)

IMVDb: Were all the effects in this video done practically? Like the floating and smoking cocoon and falling tree branches?

Ben: All effects were done on-site. They proved to be really difficult, and I certainly know now how NOT to do things. haha. Because I pretty much did what I shouldn't have done this time around. So yes to on set, but there was some minor composite work done in post.

Ben Fee

ben fee, typhoon, young fathers

Doug Klinger is the co-founder/content director of IMVDb and watches more music videos than anyone on earth. You can find him on twitter at @doug_klinger.

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