When thinking about one-take videos I often think about a Honda car ad that features a Rube Goldberg Machine, wherein the parts of the car domino onto each other which eventually rolls the car into a hero shot. The tag line for the ad is “isn’t it nice when things just work”, which is how it must feel directing one of the videos below.
With one-takers, there’s a lot of pressure on the cast and crew to not be the person who screws things up for everyone else. Naturally, the high stakes recording process means that when it does work the payoff can be pretty epic. So check out some of the finest below:
Directed by awkward funnyman Richard Ayoade who you may know as Moss from The I.T. Crowd, the clip follows frontman Ezra Koenig on a whirlwind country afternoon that feels like it must have been inspired by a strange dream.
Apparently, it took them seventeen takes to get this one right, but it goes to show how little you need to pull off something spectacular. Who’d have thought that a few treadmills and a dance routine would ever win a GRAMMY for best video?
It’s no secret that Michel Gondry is one of the greatest music video directors of all time. He’s worked with artists like Bjork, The White Stripes, Chemical Brothers, Kanye West and always brings a surrealist touch to his clips. None more so that this one-taker with Thom Yorke and co.
So apparently this iconic shot was part of a larger video that had over 40 actors in it, but the duo didn’t like how the rest of it was edited and decided to opt to only use Derrick T. Tuggle for the clip. They later joked that it was the most expensive one-take videos ever, considering all the time and footage they burned…
How could we forget one the OG one-takers, Bob Dylan, with one of the most iconic videos of all time. This one was one of the first “promotional music videos” ever and features Dylan in an alley in London slinging cards – some of which have been deliberately misspelled – at the camera. Simple, but effective.
Probably the best-choreographed video on this list (sorry Derrick T. Tuggle), this one from Canadian singer Leslie Feist shows a masterful relationship between performers and camera, with the operator equally as agile as the dancers themselves.
Julia Jacklin and director Nick Mckk return to the same house as her ‘Pool Party’ clip for this one and also enlist Sydney band Body Type along with Jacklin’s mum (cute!). There’s something that’s a little heartwarming about this clip – though it may be the wood-panelled house and plush carpet that is reminding me of my grandma.
Going for those big early 60s vibes, where rock and rollers wore suits and stood perfectly still whilst performing, Sheffield lads Miles Kane and Alex Turner nail the studio one-take nicely here. Also, just a bloody great song that has somehow slipped out from all of our playlists over the past couple of years…