Video secrets-6

Published on February 27th, 2014 | by Morgan Coulton


Liam Bachler’s Secret Space

Wellington based film-maker Liam Bachler, has directed a hoard of great New Zealand music videos. Including UMO, She’s So Rad and most recently a video for Boycrush and Watercolours, ‘Secrets’.

Presence spoke with Liam about “secrets kept, secrets told and secrets that die with people’.

How are you doing?
Yeah I’m doing good. It’s beautiful here and I’m stuck in an edit suite most of the day. But it’s ok…

Oh really, what are you working on?
At the moment I’m working on a short doco with help from the Film Commission and the British Council, so I’m getting my head around shooting dates and making sure I will get exactly what I need.

Cool. What’s the doco about?
It’s called ‘Hilda Brodie’s Love and Movie Films’. It’s about this lovely Scottish lady who came to NZ in 1953. She encompassed her marriage from beginning to end through these Super 8 amateur films. So what I’m trying to do is create a romantic journey through this found footage. I think it’s contains a poetry that will work well as a short film.

How did she feel about you doing the documentary?
She’s a little nervous but it’s healthy. She’s still a filmmaker at heart, so she understands the process. I like the idea of an honest portrait of a character that is sharing their life openly and willingly.

How did you get into film?
I found media cause my Aunty is an amazing sports journalist. I always looked up to her since she was the one in our family who followed her passion and did what she wanted to do. I admired that and wanted to get into media.

But I was also obsessed with my skateboard. I made skateboarding videos and worked for a skateboard magazine (Manual) doing photography and writing. One year I was living solely off of my earnings from skateboarding and that is crazy to think that at 22 years old I could do that in NZ. It’s milestones like that, which made me feel like I was doing what I wanted.

Fortunately for me one of those skate videos ended up on the desk of Mark Albiston (Director of ‘Shopping’ and ‘The Six Dollar Fifty Man’) and he had just started up his own production company Sticky Pictures. He was working on The Living Room and an extreme sports TV series, so he got me in as the ‘skate-board specialist’. I wanted to do it for free but they paid me $10 per hour…I was stoked! I then worked for Mark on TV3 art series ‘The Living Room’, which opened up a whole world of creative people living in New Zealand.

So your latest video is with Boycrush and Watercolours. How did you get onto those guys?
I’m friends with Alistair (Boycrush) and a while ago he put me in touch with Jeremy Toy to first do a video for Jeremy’s band (She’s So Rad). I got to fulfill a childhood dream of making one of my old skating friends into a comic book hero. So I always felt a debt of gratitude to Alistair for that and of course the song is really good too!

What was your brief for the Boycrush video, Secrets?
I wanted to create a suggested narrative through a montage of secret actions, objects and places. I then wanted the video share these secrets in a way that lets the viewer decide what it all means.

There were the beautiful scenes of the misty forest. Are you able to divulge where was this shot? Did you plan for it to be misty or was that a happy coincidence?
It’s funny because in the original shot, it’s not actually misty at all. In reality the foreground shot is in a park in Auckland pointed at some trees. I’ve then gone and recorded a series of mist shots that I saw on my drive back to Wellington. If you know it’s there you can see the difference, it’s not like amazing compositing or anything, but the illusion remains.

Woah, so you went ‘mist hunting’?
I collected shots throughout the year. When I was driving down the country I aimed to reach the Desert Road between 4.30-8am. There is a lot of secret feeling scenery in that area. There’s this one point along the road where you can see into this basin and on the right day with the right weather all of the low cloud accumulates in it…like a sphere of cloud and it is so magic. I’ve always wanted to capture it but have never been able to. I was hoping I’d get it on this video but I haven’t been able to do it justice. So whenever I would travel I would try to find secret places of my own to share in this video.

The whole idea of secrets is amazing you know…secrets kept, secrets told and the one I really like is the secrets that die with people. Just before I finished the video I had a family member pass away. When that happens it’s only natural to think of all the questions you have unanswered. So you’re losing this window into the secrets of your family, and often at the end of the road there is so much to discuss that most people would rather share nothing at all.

Well that’s it as well, it’s not necessarily can you but would you.
Exactly and then becomes the choice for Chelsea’s character. She obviously has Alistair’s secret but she locks it away and lets it go with him. I found it really interesting that someone could have the choice and would still turn it away. I thought it was a powerful image to finish on (in the video) that she’s letting it go to make the viewer’s experience feel complete even though you’ll never know what he wrote in that note.

I read recently that a lot of your music videos are “70’s type throwbacks with pretty women doing mischievous things”. Is this a fair take on your work?
It’s a little bit cringy. I love the 70’s and I love nostalgia but not everything I do is like that. There is a romantic aspect to old film that adds a journey that you don’t feel in high definition video. Our generation will always be remembered in that HD crisp, harsh reality. When I make something I’m always trying to put myself in a place where I would want to dream and more often than not I want to dream in a memory of the past.









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Music lover, sometimes singer and part-time inquisitor for Presence Zine.

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