Damien Binder “Anytime”

2004-damien-binder-anytime“Anytime” was the fifth (or sixth, depending on how you count it) and final of Damien Binder’s solo video funding. And just to be different, the video is set in the Australian outback.

We meet Damien walking along a dusty red road in the middle of the bush, looking very cool with his guitar case in hand. He reaches a sealed road and sets himself up to hitch-hike, but no cars come along. Is it just an unpopular road or are more sinister things at work?

After entertaining himself on his guitar, he sets off on foot and discovers an abandoned car. Walking further, he comes to a small town, but there’s no sign of anyone around. Maybe it’s the day of the grand final and everyone is glued to their TVs.

Or maybe there’s been a Quiet Earth type of disaster and almost everyone on earth has mysteriously vanished. Damien, think – what happened at 6.12am? Hey, if he can make it across the Tasman there would be at least three New Zealanders he can hang out with. Maybe he and ’80s Bruno Lawrence could jam before the world ends.

The video has a lot of fun with Damien’s rock star silhouette, giving him plenty of interesting walls to stand against and roads to walk down, guitar case in hand. Well, if everyone else in the world has vanished, you would have a bit of fun with your newfound status as king of the world.

The story ends with Damien walking off into the sunset, not even stealing an abandoned car. Being an entertainer, maybe he’s just looking for an audience to play to. Well, maybe he can reach Dubbo by nightfall. There might be people there.

Best bit: law-abiding Damien does not steal beer from the pub after determining it too is empty.

Director: Richard Bell

Next… all you need is lube.

Damien Binder “Point & Shoot”

2003-damien-binder-point-and-shootMaybe I’ve been watching too much Masterchef, but I want to call this “pop video, four ways”. The screen is split into four, with each corner filled with footage of that particular part of the scene. So most of the time it just looks like a regular shot of Damien Binder in a room, only there’s a strange wobbly cross going through the middle of the image.

Garageland’s video for “Feel Alright” used a similar technique, only theirs was played up for its surreal humour. In contrast, “Point & Shoot” ends up being a bit sedate. At one point Damien is sitting at a table with a cup of coffee and I found myself wishing for some “Feel Alright”-style split-screen lolz. But no, it’s just Damien sitting at a table.

It’s not until the surprising unpredictability of Damien’s guitar strumming comes along that the split screens really get around to showing a bit of contrast. And as the song progresses, the video mixes up the four screens a bit.

It’s a bit uneventful. The song is like that too – a really chilled out acoustic guitar pop number – so the end result is a a bit dull. I think the song would be really good to see performed live in a small club setting. But on video, it’s just not very engaging. There’s absolutely nothing bad or wrong with this video, but there’s nothing about it that makes me want to watch it again.

Best bit: Damien pours wine into one glass, another glass remains empty *sadface*

Director: Jonathan King

Next… a pornstar.

Damien Binder “Till Now”

2002-damien-binder-till-nowThere’s something strange about Damien Binder videos. They tend to start off seeming quite ordinary, but then unusual things happen. This one reminds me of Betchadupa’s “Life Will be the Same” video, the tale of a man out driving on a dark and stormy night.

In this case, Damien is behind the wheel. He’s in a dazed and confused state, as if perhaps he just woke up and found himself in a strange car. He starts the engine and hits the road, but is readily distracted by all the shiny things in the car.

He goes to light a cigarette with a Zippo from the glovebox, but it won’t light. Tragically it appears to be a vintage a vintage motorcar with no built-in lighter, which is a pity because lighting a cigarette with the hot coil is the second most best thing you can do with a cigarette in a car. (The best thing is smoking as you drive, feeling like a cool dude.)

Distracted by a road map, he appears to hit a cyclist, but he doesn’t stop and goes back to the map. Later he appears to hit a woman standing in the middle of the road, but she appears in the passenger seat, still wet from the rain. Then he hits a stop sign.

It’s a driving disaster. Fortunately some red and blue lights are flashing, ready to take this menace off the road. I’d like to see this story continued a part of an episode of Motorway Patrol, seeing what the officers make of the guy who tries to blame his bad driving on a phantom hitcher.

Best bit: the headlights from oncoming cars that never seem to pass Damien’s car.

Director: Jonathan King

Next… a dog’s tale.

Damien Binder “Turn Me Round”

2001-damien-binder-turn-me-roundThere are plenty of music videos that are set in classrooms, but the learning facility of “Turn Me Around” is delightfully surreal. Damien enters a classrom where all the students are men his age, all neatly dressed in the same suit.

Teaching the class is a young woman, who has drawn some diagrams on the blackboard that look like a cross between American football play diagrams and dance step diagrams, only weirder. She’s a suitably prim-looking teacher, so part of me expects the video to get all Van Halen and have the teacher let down her hair and start dancing in her undies. But no. It’s very well behaved.

Damien joins the class and soon assimilates in this strange school. The teacher rubs a stick all over Damien’s suit (?) and the men do a tapping and listening thing with dinner forks, the same thing you’d normally do with a tuning fork. Damien struggles with this task. He just can’t get that tap-and-listen technique right.

There’s also a bit of biffo, with Damien and one of this classmates engaging in some civilised fisticuffs. Finally he’s ready to graduate. The classmates and teacher disappear and Damien is left sitting alone, repeatedly singing “I’m ready now,” like someone who’s having trouble ordering a taxi with a voice-reconigition phone system.

Filmed in such murky colours that it almost looks black and white, the video has a stylish, slightly surreal feeling, this strange school of cutlery, suits and fists.

Best bit: the artful fanning of spoons.

Director: Jonathan King

Next… a heartbreaking work of staggering genius.

Damien Binder “Good As Gone”

The video begins with two staunch-looking men standing in a room. They’re wearing suits, no ties and seem to be in serious-business mode. In walks Damien. He greets the two men, who stand either side of them. Then Damien begins singing and it becomes clear what the heavies are there for. Whenever Damien sings, the blokes grab him and pull him back. Such is the power of his pop-rock skills, he must be restrained.

While the ’90s saw a rash of Tarantino clone videos, this one seems to have taken the Tarantino style as an inspiration but has done its own thing. It’s a familiar look, but there’s something delightfully unusual happening in this video.

The tussle continues with Damien singing, the heavies pulling him back, Damien flashing a nice-guy smile, and the cycle repeating. The heavies get a bit sick of this wide boy and kick him to the floor. But he magically emerges from the side, starts singing again and the scuffles continue.

Then a young woman appears with a tray of half-time oranges and everyone takes a little time to refresh. We also see a mysterious fellow sitting in a director’s chair. The action resumes, but this time it’s even more crazy. The young woman joins in, attacking the goons with a toilet plunger and a bag of oranges. Eventually the action ends with smiles, hugs and hearty cheques for the heavies – proof that people get paid for work in New Zealand music videos.

Best bit: the ornament, lovingly put back in place after being knocked off.

Director: Jonathan King
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… all aboard!

Damien Binder “Stray Banter”

1997-damien-binder-stray-banterSo, this is a weird one. This video is in the Kiwi Hits database as having received funding in 1997, but it looks the video wasn’t made then so the funding went back into the pool. The “Stray Banter” video finally appeared in 2001, but without NZOA funding. But I figure it’s worth including.

The video is shot in one take and slowed down a bit. By now I’ve grown weary of such techniques. It’s going to take more than that to impress me, yah.

So, Damien wakes up by the side of a country road and discovers he’s not alone. There’s been some sort of car crash. A confuses woman wanders around, a guy in a suit shouts into a cellphone and the contents of a suitcase are strewn on the road. A bewildered farmer, a small boy and a random cyclist look on the scene.

We eventually catch a glimpse of the car, which seems to have been involved in a head-on collision with… an invisible forcefield. And no sign of skidmarks either. Yeah, I’m thinking it’s an insurance scam.

The video seems to have been so caught up in the novelty of the scenario that the song have taken a backseat, feeling more like a soundtrack to a short film than the star of the video. Juice TV played this video a lot in late 2001, but while the images of the video were very familiar to me, I had no memory of the song itself.

Best bit: angry cellphone man – nothing can make him chill.

Director: Jonathan King
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… some sound advice.