In this music video for the Future Islands song "For Sure", Hornet Director Sam Mason creates a fully animated 3D video about two autonomous cars finding love in a hopeless place. The film follows two cars as they court each other in a choreographed cross-country love dance all across various landscapes pockmarked with relics of longgone human civilizations. Eventually, the two cars run out of gas and end up next to each other. It’s a love song and a love story told in the most futuristic form: CG digital filmmaking.
"I wanted to build a world that felt photo-realistic, yet maintained a certain artful, painterly quality. Cutting it cinematically using real types of camera sequences, there’s a traditional live action feel to it. But it’s all digital.”
In terms of narrative, Sam was inspired by the almost meditative calm that had settled over the world in the immediate fallout of coronavirus lockdown. In his words, “I felt like the song called for something reacting to our time and what we’ve been going through. And my first instincts were to play off a post-apocalyptic thing, where nature had rather beautifully taken back over. I imagined this beautiful, calm world where nature came back and quickly forgot about people. But not in a dystopian way. More like an optimistic Garden of Eden.”
The tricky part was figuring out how to create the film in total isolation while in the midst of Covid-19 lockdown. Thankfully, Sam is a director who loves to poke and prod and experiment with technical boundaries. He opted for a world built totally in CG. "I thought of it as a futuristic way to make a film in isolation. And I think it was conceptually interesting to make something that felt like a live action film using all these hacked together digital ways of working. Looking forward, I think more work can be done this way."
Obsessed with world-building, Sam Mason grew up inspired by artists such as Terry Gilliam, Jim Henson, and Yuri Norstein—auteurs known for creating unique and immersive worlds. His passion to create beautiful and fantastical landscapes embedded with secret languages landed him at Central Saint Martin's in London. His student short won the attention of many studios, not to mention a spot in that year's Annecy circuit.
It also led to his mentorship with acclaimed director Pete Candeland. This partnership launched his directing career on worldwide campaigns for Coke, Toyota, Mazda, and Honda as well as music videos with Sofi Tukker.
In terms of craft, Sam is always excited about applying a style of CG that reflects his lo-fi/hi-fi hybrid approach to making things. He prefers to utilize emerging technologies to apply a physicality and textured realness to his films. He especially likes to start with real objects and from there set up constraints that he can work within, like he did with his collaboration with Hugo Marie for Little Things, where they scoured vintage markets for objects that could ground the film.
With a romantic nod back to the textured details of the Baroque movement, to the reduced instincts of Bauhaus, Sam seeks to create a middle ground aesthetic—a style that straddles both animation and traditional film. The excitement around his methods is a continued push to find new ways of creating a moving painting. The undercurrent of his work is the desire to make something romantic and playful; not overly designed, yet rich with feeling and detail, and always rooted in history. In Sam's own words, his work is never cool but is always playing with the vulnerable.