They were asked directly by singer Michael Stipe to work on the promo, after he saw a series of films that Crush had shot for Douglas Coupland’s new book, The Gum Thief.
“He wanted a video that was frantic and dense and not overly polished or fretted over,” explains co-director Gary Thomas. “Michael has great instincts about what visuals are right for the song, but really allowed us to run with the clip.
“When we first started talking to Michael about the meaning behind the lyrics, the song really struck a chord with us. We all fear losing who we are or getting so far down a path, either in career or personally, that we can’t get back. We wanted to build on that as our theme.
“We wanted to see the Hollow Man as a person (or in our case three people), as a digital avatar, or as a roughly drawn representation. We wanted the lyrics to stand out front, plain and confronting, without losing their layers of meaning. We felt that the moment of understanding needed to feel like an explosion, and that dictated the rush of images, punctuated by moments of clarity.
“Crush works a bit like a band,” Thomas says. “We all have roles but we collaborate, sometimes leading each other and sometimes following. The creative process was liquid and constantly changing…. We started out feeling like typography was going to be the main device, then felt a hand-animated section would give it the humanity the words needed. Then, as we explored, we thought a live action representation would connect all the elements. The digital avatar became the symbolic heart of the video.”
Directors: Gary Thomas, Stefan Woronko
Shot, designed and animated by Crush, Toronto