Interview with Tom Haines: Director of the Trembling Hands video clip

by Trevor Aung Than on August 7, 2012

I saw this video clip about a month ago while at work and was so entranced with it I went home and watched it repeatedly on Vimeo. A couple of days later it was still on my mind; I had so many questions – where was it filmed? Who was the genius behind it? It led me to email the director, Tom Haines, and ask him if he would mind me asking him a few questions for my blog. Thankfully, he didn’t mind. This is what he had to say…

Temper Trap – Trembling Hands (Director’s Cut) from Tom Haines on Vimeo.

Trev: How did a UK director end up filming a Cuban trapeze troupe for a video clip for an Australian band?

Tom: Temper Trap actually live in the UK currently, near to me in London – not that that has much to do with the video being commissioned, but it was definitely something that gave us common ground during the early stages. But the idea was just something that felt appropriate, that I could picture with the music – and I think the band were looking to do something human, uplifting after they’d made a more tongue-in-cheek effort for their last video (Ed. See here for their last video).

Trev: Why Cuba?

Tom: I wanted to set the video where it would add a layer of jeopardy to the narrative, where not only would you have to survive the physical demands of being a trapeze artist, but there might also be social or economic demands that make it more detrimental that the character succeeds.

Trev: What was it like being on location in Cuba?

Tom: I really didn’t spend enough time there and would love to go back – I think that although we had a really interesting insight, due to the angle we were taking, in some ways it was only a surface view. But people were so helpful and generous – you got a strong feeling of the fidelity that they share. There seemed to be little of the neediness, or desperation you might assume exists there. And the crew were just so professional – beat the pants off a lot of other crews I’ve worked with.

I’ve wanted to go there for a long time, and really wanted to get there before Castro pops his clogs and a different order gets ushered in. It’s such a beautiful looking place, I love the faded decadence, but that actually posed a creative problem as we didn’t want it to look like a postcard, or other videos that had been shot there.

Trev: The videoclip has an extremely strong narrative – who was the force behind the conception of that?

Tom: (I think I answered this one already?? But it was all ME! Ha ha ha evil laugh)

Trev: How did you come across the Cuban circus school?

Tom: We got lucky…! We contacted the Cuban fixers and they found the location for us – I had a hunch that there might be something similar because of the state circus, but the place we found was amazing and they gave us complete freedom to film there. We looked at the possibility of some other locations, incuding Brazil – but Cuba won out.

Trev: I’ve worked with old-world trapeze folk before and found them to be extremely gracious, open and humble – how did you find working with them?

Tom: I think that’s a fair and honest appraisal – they were all great, the lead couple hadn’t acted before and threw themselves into it without questioning anything – they were naturally so focused that it really helped their acting. It was a very inspiring experience in that respect.

Trev: Did you try any of the circus skills?

Tom: I did often get an overwhelming urge to launch myself off onto the safety net or grab the parallel bars but they are all so absurdly fit and strong, I’d only make a complete tit of myself! My cameraman had a go on the trampoline, I think he could have happily played on there all day and forgone the filming.

Trev: I have to ask – the finale ‘show scene’ in the video features the female lead completing her trick, a double to the net – why not feature her going to ‘hands’ to a catcher?

Tom: This was more a question of being succinct with the narrative – I originally wanted the couple to consist of a catcher and trapeze girl, but it would have made things too difficult in terms of how to film it – but mostly I felt it would have been a bit corny to have her catching as the goal of her actions – a bit too Sly Stallone in a way, if you know what I mean…;)

Thanks Tom Haines for some truly beautiful work! And a special thanks to Tom also for allowing me to use photos from his private collection. Check out Tom’s excellent work here .

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rico Jakk August 8, 2012 at 2:58 pm

We have an incredible building in Gateshead, UK, and this film has inspired us to show it to the world! Our charity runs an indoor skatepark and modern circus project name Dynamix Skatepark, it’s all built from reclaimed /wasted materials & resources. Thanks for the inspiration and great work!!

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Trevor Aung Than August 8, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Hi Rico,

Thanks for following mate. That’s great, pass on the details!

Cheers
Trev

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