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Q&A with Scot Barbour

February 15th, 2021

If you’ve watched Duran Duran’s new video for FIVE YEARS, then you’ve seen the work of Scot Barbour. He and his crew worked on all the Virtual Art you see in the video. Scot’s had an amazing career thus far, and as a music lover, added so much to the FIVE YEARS vid. Definitely a Q&A worth reading!

1. Before getting in to what you DO for a living, tell us a little something about yourself

I think first and foremost, I’m moved by art and I love to collaborate with other artists. I was kind of brought up on a healthy dose of the impressionists, ancient civilizations and science.

2. I know you’re a film maker but you worked really hard to get on that path. Tell us about the early years when you worked to get though college…

Yeah, I was certainly not on the right path early on, that’s for sure. But yeah, it was music that sort of saved me. I found a story in music, one that I could tell, one that I felt I had some authority to kind of speak about and share. That story was about Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone. When I found that, I pretty much sold it all over to telling his story. Making that movie was a catharsis for me which allowed me to let go of a lot of the baggage I had been carrying for a while and then sort of set me free to continue to create.

3. I poked around and found your resume and saw that along with directing, you’re a visual effects person. Tell us about that.

For me, I really took on the skills that were required to make my own films, and I mean single-handedly! So, I learned a little about a lot of things. With VFX (visual effects), I really just wanted to take visual storytelling to new areas, particularly in documentary films where imagery tended to be dry at the time. I felt that there were ways I could enhance an image in order to convey a deeper sense of its meaning. Those are the VFX I like.

4. And then you worked at APPLE. That must have been super-exciting to work on Final Cut Pro with Hollywood Studios…

Yeah, for me the coolest thing was working with, and for, Steve Jobs. I think he was the only person on earth at the time that could have convinced me to take a day job

5. It’s clear you love music, tell us about some of the artists you’ve worked with.

I’ve been pretty fortunate to work with a few great artists. In my Documentary, I worked with the guys in Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam, and my all-time favorites, Soundgarden. I formed some great friendships during that time. After that, I worked with Will I Am and the Black Eyed Peas, Taylor Swift, Justin Beiber, One Direction, Ahmed Zappa, Bush, the Goo Goo Dolls, a bunch.

6. So Duran Duran. How did working with them on “Five Years” come about?

Man, you know, we were all in this crazy Covid situation where we kind of have to be looking out for more than just ourselves, you know, and maybe thinking about other people’s families, friends and their health concerns. It’s a big reset on humanity in a lot of ways. And with a situation where everyone is quarantined, you have musicians who want to do what they love – perform live – but they really can’t, and we all can’t go and enjoy that for now. So it was that mix that sort of provided the opportunity I guess. Along with Wendy of course, their manager, who orchestrated all of it really.

7. Can you tell us about the process of creating the “Five Years” music video?

I gotta say, I was kind of blown away by the opportunity. For me, Duran Duran have a royalty kind of status. They sort of bridged the gap between rock, pop, and new wave to make their own thing and that garnered them a lot of attention and respect, from even hard rock/punk rock guys like I was. So yeah, on that level, it was an amazing opportunity for me. Aside from me processing all of that, we had to put it all together from a distance. None of us on the entire production from end to end were ever really in the same room together. We shot a few of the guys in London, a couple in LA, and then put them together in a game engine. It was pretty unique what we did.

8. An artist named Teek Mach is on your team – she is a super star in her given field. Can you tell us how she worked with you on the video?

Yeah, Teek is amazing. She blew my mind the first time I met her. She put me in a VR headset and sort of flew me through a guided musical journey based on some Smashing Pumpkins songs. Being visual and based on music, it struck a chord with me instantly and we just sort of stayed in touch from there. Teek will put on a VR headset and like literally live in the worlds she creates for days and weeks on end. She’ll be in there eating a burger in real life or something, she’s just that kind of committed. I think of Teek as the kind of person you want painting your dreams when you sleep at night. For this piece, she painted some amazing ethereal imagery in Tiltbrush, and then using the Unity game engine, put it all in a timeline for us to merge. From there, the team at Mercury Studios did their magic in merging that with the footage of each band member.

9. How involved was the band in the video shoot?

They were pretty involved. They all showed up and did what they do best, which is perform great music. And working with Nick, in particular, was cool as hell because he’s a really creative guy with great vision. He knows what works and he knows how things should sort of feel, but at the same time he’s not micro-managing anything, you know? They were all a pleasure to work with.

10. What was the hardest part of this process for you as a director?

For me, it’s not always about what’s in the frame or on the screen in the end, its gotta reach beyond that into the “why” more that “what” realm if that makes sense. But that’s what moves me. So with this piece, Duran Duran made such an impact with their music videos that they kind of changed the game for everyone after them. They were the band that showed the rest of the music world how to make compelling visual content to accompany their music. And for me, that was a big deal. It was something I had actually really learned and taken from. So, in my mind, I just wanted to be sure we carried some of that legacy forward in the way this video was made. It’s really the first time anyone has ever shot each band member separately and then hand-painted a world in virtual reality around them.

11. Were you a fan of Duran Duran before you got this project to work on?

Yeah, for sure. My younger sister had introduced them to me, and I knew that if she thought they were cool, they had to be. From there I really found myself enjoying their music. You can’t play a Duran Duran tune at a party and not find every single person in the room going “yeah, now that’s fucking cool !” They have that, quality, you know?

12. Lastly, we ask every interviewee this question -what’s is your favorite Duran Duran video and why?

“The Wild Boys” for sure! It’s got this Cirque du Soleil – meets – Terry Gilliam type of visual vibe which I love! It’s such a bad-ass song! And the lyrics… I can totally relate!

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