Behind-the-scenes on Dougal Wilson’s new video for Stealing Sheep

For his video for Stealing Sheep’s new single Apparition, director Dougal Wilson convinced the band to learn Morris Dancing. We talk to him about how the promo was made.

Before becoming a superstar ad director, Wilson cut his teeth making charming and witty music videos for bands including Coldplay, Bat For Lashes, and Temper Trap, but it’s been six years now since he made his last promo. He returns with a classic Wilson work here though, with the Stealing Sheep video featuring quintessentially English scenes, complete with the odd quirky twist.

Video and stills
Video and stills

“I’ve always found Morris Dancing slightly strange and psychedelic, and thought it could be an unexpectedly appropriate accompaniment to Stealing Sheep’s music,” he says. “I’d also wanted to revisit Morris Dancing since I made a Four Tet video in 2003, where I simply cut existing Morris footage to music. This time I thought it would be interesing to take the idea further by actually having the band learn Morris Dancing themselves, and put them amongst genuine Morris dancers.”

The video was shot over two days in the village of Turville, Buckinghamshire (“the same location used for the 1942 Ealing film Went The Day Well,” points out Wilson) and has the appearance of being shot in one take, though eagle-eyed viewers will notice that the changing depth of shadow reveals it has been carefully stitched together.

Stealing Sheep Storyboard p2
Stealing Sheep Storyboard p3
Stealing Sheep Storyboard p4
Top and above: Dougal Wilson's storyboard for the Stealing Sheep video
Top and above: Dougal Wilson’s storyboard for the Stealing Sheep video

“I thought it would be appropriate to attempt to capture it in one (apparently) continuous take, as Morris Dancing seems to always be shot by one hand-held camera when it appears on the internet,” continues Wilson. “Our camera move is a slightly more elaborate development of that. We rehearsed with Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers, and other groups from Oxford. With their expert help, we customised their traditional dances to Stealing Sheep’s song.

“I blocked this out as a rough storyboard (see above), bringing in other characters such as the hobby horse and the straw men (straw ‘bears’), which are based on traditional figures in the Morris world, then cut together the video rehearsals to make a more detailed template to work from.

“Emily, Becky and Lucy from the band were very conscientious and, luckily for me, picked up Morris Dancing steps very well.”

Stealing Sheep horse head
Photos from the set
Photos from the set;

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