Interview with James Marcus Haney on ‘Birds’ Music Video
Christa, our dear staff member at Coldplaying HQ, had a wonderful opportunity to chat with the amazing director for the Birds music video, James Marcus Haney.
Q: How did your work with Coldplay for the Birds video come about? What was it like to work with the band? We know you had worked with Coldplay with “No Cameras allowed” which was so lovely in the film. Why did you choose Super 8 MM to film the video?
A: The music video for Birds happened after we did a photo shoot with Coldplay out at Salvation Mountain. We did a little BTS video on super 8mm and the band really loved that aesthetic with that location, so we went back and shot more.
Q: You mentioned in your Instagram post that the Birds video was sort of a homage to Leonard Knight, the mind behind Salvation Mountain. Was there any other artists, photographers etc. who inspired you?
A: Shooting at Salvation Mountain is a really unique situation, because you’re essentially collaborating with Leonard Knight posthumously. His work and vision is just as much present as the band’s or my own in the video. He’s left a piece of artwork and his life behind for others to not only appreciate as art but also draw into other future works of art.
Q: You’ve released two full length films and worked with many major artists such as Mumford & Sons, among others. Are there any artists you’d like to work?
A: Yes! All the ones I haven’t worked with yet! Haha, that’s an easy cop out answer but kind of true.
Q: What is your favorite Coldplay song? What is your favorite Coldplay video?
A: Oh man that is a tough one. There are too many of both that have majorly influenced me over the years. “Yellow” and “Fix You” are forever ingrained in me as videos that first kind of taught me that simple is powerful. I love those songs and videos so much – the video concepts are so simple yet somehow affected me enough to make me remember where I was when I first saw them.
Q: Your film, Austin to Boston features many great artists such as Ben Howard, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Staves among others. What was the atmosphere like on that tour with all those creative people in one place?
A: It was nuts! We had 4 insanely incredible artists packed into a convoy of VW buses driving across the country in freezing March. The music didn’t ever stop, really… That was Bear’s Den’s first tour ever and they were writing some of their debut album in the buses on the long drive… was so magical waking up in those old rattling buses and hearing music being played nonstop.
Q: The artists you interviewed in Austin to Boston seem to all take place in the VW buses. Was that planned or did it happen organically? Did any of the Brits actually drive the buses? If so, How did that work out being on the other side of the road?
A: The whole movie was about touring across the country the old way with new bands. So yes, the buses were planned – the green one is actually my personal bus that I still drive today. Almost everyone had to help drive at some point.. so yes, lots of Brits drove on the wrong side of the road, but the buses go so slow, they had some time to figure it out. :)
Q: Also, in Austin to Boston there is is the scene where The Staves sing Fleetwood Mac’s “For You” it was just stunning. I grew up with Fleetwood Mac’s albums in my house. Did your parents play certain music and artists in your house that you remember, admire or influenced you?
A: Oh yea – it was all Eagles, Dire Straits, Bob Seger and Little Feat in my house. I couldn’t stand them growing up and now can’t ever get enough. Bob Seger for life.
Q: Speaking of The Staves, the video, Facing West is beautiful. Can you tell us about the shoot and how you chose the locations for the video?
A: We shot on location in Big Sur. Mainly because it’s so damn gorgeous there but also because it really fit the song lyrically too.
Q: You have traveled around the world, is there one place in the that has been which had the biggest effect on you?
A: Oh man, another one that’s impossible to pinpoint just one place. I guess Honduras is definitely one candidate as that’s where I traveled on my own for the first time in a completely foreign cultural at a relatively young age. It’s also where I was forced to learn Spanish, which I’m forever grateful for.
Q: Apart from Coldplay and Mumford and Sons, what bands do you listen to and are in love with? What was the last song you played on your iPod, phone or record player?
A: Well, at this exact moment, I’m listening to Lou Reed’s “Dirty Blvd.” Before this was “Heroes” by Bowie. I guess it’s just that kind of day. Great gloomy Sunday.
Note: Marcus was interviewed only days before David Bowie’s Death. R.I.P.
Q: What is your favorite camera to work with?
Can’t say I have a favorite – I think that’s always changing. I think an easier question to answer is which camera do you like working with the least? That’s the iPhone.
Q: Will you be working with Coldplay again?
A: Hope so! They are such lovely fun guys to work with. They really care.
Q: You have snuck into so many festivals, including the one in Bermuda by sea. The thrill must be amazing. What was your favorite festival to sneak into?
A: So many festivals are incredible for different reasons… I think the one that I felt most in the moment for the longest amount of time was Glastonbury… It’s as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist when you’re there.
Q: Your friends and family seem so important to you. We got to know them pretty well in “No Cameras Allowed” and we miss them. Can you tell us how Ryan, Acid Chris and the rest of your posse are doing?
A: Yea! Acid Chris and Ryan and I all live walking distance to each other here in Venice Beach and Grim Grim is in Wales being Grim Grim and nailing life and Kelly’s being a bad ass photographer and editor in New York. Also – a little Easter Egg that not many people know… If you look at the album cover for Mumford & Sons’ Babel record, look real close, right in the center, you’ll see Grim Grim!
Q: What do you think about Kodak’s new Super 8 camera that they announced at CES?
A: As for the camera itself, I can’t comment on it yet as I haven’t used it yet.. On a more macro level, I’m happy for anything to come along to increase demand for film stock production… which means I’ll be able to keep shooting film for longer before they stop making it forever.
Q: What’s the next project you are working on and where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A: Next project is called a Sunday afternoon nap and I’m just about to buckle down and get into it. In 5 years… shoot… hopefully still here and there and stoked. Slap me if I’m not stoked in 5 years.
Thank you for agreeing to let us ask you these questions.
Thank you, Christa!
Visit jamesmarcushaney.com for all of Haney’s Work!
Austin To Boston
You can watch Austin to Boston on Netflix or buy/rent it on iTunes.
No Camera’s Allowed