Atlantic Records' Death Cab for Cutie has announced details of their upcoming "Directions," an innovative anthology of 12 short films inspired by each song on the band's acclaimed album "Plans." Every song, including the hit single "Soul Meets Body" and the upcoming follow-up "Crooked Teeth," will be delivered by a different director. The videos will be unveiled one by one on the band's website www.deathcabforcutie.com in early January.
The unprecedented collection came about as the brainchild of otaku-house, the production company owned and run by childhood friends Nick Harmer, bassist for Death Cab for Cutie, and video director Aaron Stewart-Ahn. They saw the opportunity to enlist a variety of talented young artists to each make a short film set to a Death Cab song, without the constraints of the traditional music video - no arbitrary performance footage, the band themselves would not appear in the films. Though the budgets would be small, there would be no creative limits placed upon the filmmakers' imaginations. The ultimate goal was to create a series of small films that worked together as both individual pieces of art and as a unified whole.
Stewart-Ahn and the band compiled a list of directors, including superstars, up-and-coming new talents, and even a graphic novelist who had never had his work animated before. "We named the project 'Directions,'" says Stewart-Ahn, "because it's a pun on 'Plans,' obviously, but ultimately because we feel this project is about unique directorial visions more than anything else. We wanted to create a situation where that would be the emphasis, and I feel the list of directors alone proves that."
Among the filmmakers contributing to "Directions" are Lance Bangs, famed for his work alongside Spike Jonze, as well as his videos for such artists as R.E.M. and Green Day; P.R. Brown, who has directed videos for Billy Corgan, Matisyahu and Motley Crue; Ace Norton, a stop-frame animation maestro; acclaimed graphic novelist Jeffrey Brown ("Clumsy"); the Cincinnati-based motion design collective, Lightborne; longtime Death Cab photographer Autumn de Wilde; writer/director Rob Schrab, the mind behind the legendary never-aired Jack Black pilot, Heat Vision and Jack, and co-founder of the Channel 101 website; acclaimed music video directors Laurent Briet and Monkmus, as well as Stewart-Ahn himself, following up his critically hailed video debut, the Decemberists' "16 Military Wives."
"Each interpretation is phenomenal and our hats go off to everyone involved," says Death Cab's Ben Gibbard. "It's our hope that this project serves as a model to both labels and bands as a way to grant the directors the type and amount of freedom we've enjoyed in the creation of the music itself."
"We have truly been blessed to have met so many creative and energetic artists over the years of being a band," says Harmer. "It just seemed so appropriate to build a project that so many artists that we admire could be a part of and it's so inspiring to stand back and watch them work."
"It's thrilling to have so many enthusiastic artists involved," comments guitarist Chris Walla, "and better still that they're such a varied bunch: Some are heroes; some are exceptionally talented friends; some are brilliant people none of us had heard of. I don't know of any projects quite like this one, and it's a testament to Atlantic's commitment to our artistic vision (and partial lunacy) that they've gotten behind us completely to ensure that it happens."
"They're all so good," concludes drummer Jason McGerr. "The first rough cut I saw blew my expectations out of the water. To read about someone else's interpretation of your song simply isn't enough. To be given an opportunity to see it through their eyes is astonishing."