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Early Director Reel : Chris Cunningham

7.5 min reel that got Chris signed to Blackdog. Really impressive work from a then unsigned director.
lusk81, August 19, 2008 at 4:59:21 PM CEST

Contains a lot of his 'missing' videos. This was cut by Gary Knight and you can already see the early fruits of their collaboration.

The first piece (give blood) is actually a spec commercial he shot. Knight also edited this as well.

QUIXOTIC: Can you post your vhs rip?

Very saddening to hear that the guy is pulling (has pulled?) away from video (and image) making in general.

my name is legion, August 19, 2008 at 6:05:13 PM CEST

i wish i directed something like this: synchronized swimmers sporting suits with embedded LED's

anyways, cunningham's THE MAN. anything new from him, except that video for the horrors?

also, is it tru that the promos on his reel were more expensive than 99% of the videos that get posted here?

quixoticnyc, August 19, 2008 at 6:15:44 PM CEST

Sorry guys won't be able to rip the VHS. Id have it find it buried in a closet somewhere. Last time I remember watching it the tape had degraded to a pretty nasty place anyhow.

Also Im pretty sure most of the work on the above posted reel was produced through RSA/Black Dog as opposed to getting him signed.

kalstark, August 19, 2008 at 7:35:30 PM CEST

First off, thanks for sharing this great find Lusk.

Now, I love Cunningham's videos and like any video nut I adore 'All is Full of Love' but that reel was painful to get through. The introductory spot (Tattoist) was solid and then the rest of it turned to drek. Sure, the individual shots and the lighting were 'steak sauce' but the editing... :(

There was no feel of a through line, no emotional build or fall, not even coherent pacing. I felt all tuckered out by the sixth minute and my finger was poised above Quicktime's close button for the remaining 90 seconds.

Perhaps reels fashioned as above were all the rage in the mid to late 90s, true Cunningham's ability and raw talent comes through, and sure, if I were an exec., I'd be interested enough to ask for the full videos but damn - that reel was like punched nuts.


budget, August 19, 2008 at 7:37:44 PM CEST

2 questions I've always had about CC's career:

  1. Where did he get the money for these spots on his reel?
  2. Where did Warp Records ever get the enormous sums of money that went into his Aphex Twin videos?

captainmarc22, August 19, 2008 at 8:00:03 PM CEST

Question 3:

What does Chris Cunningham do to pay the bills? Surely he's not living off any of his director fees from 6 years ago. Does he do freelance work under a psuedonym?

It is kind of disappointing how sparse his career has been. It's like he's so afraid of making something below his standards that he chooses to never make anything again. And commercials are a crass industry, but there's always cool work to be done and his work isstill revered by a lot of people in the ad industry.

Maybe he's been working on filming the next My Bloody Valentine single.

bobafettich, August 19, 2008 at 8:11:30 PM CEST

he is producing and mixing the new album from "The Horrors"....sound is what he does nowadays....

kalstark, August 19, 2008 at 9:16:09 PM CEST

@boba: Are you serious? Why would Cunningham abandon a medium in which he has shown so much talent and promise? It's totally possible that he finds sound work more rewarding but geez...


shatner, August 19, 2008 at 11:09:42 PM CEST

It's possible he got bored and fustrated.

The control he desired, the time he wanted... there are few funding sources that are friendly to that. Even if he is a name.

Music probably felt like a fresh challenge. A purer medium perhaps. A lot of the best video directors would make good musicians I reckon.

mirrored_glasses, August 20, 2008 at 12:47:13 AM CEST

the rumor i've heard is that he actually makes enough money from the director's label dvd sales to survive.

luk, August 20, 2008 at 2:00:44 PM CEST

I've heard the "directors label" Projekt "died" because they earn not much enough.

Alanedit, August 20, 2008 at 7:53:58 PM CEST

The Director's Label died because it's company, Palm pictures, went out of business.

Also, there where talks of a third installment in the series but as you know, money talks. The second volume wasn't as big a seller as the third and considering the rights issues (David Fincher, Jonas Akerlund where rumored to be in the third) the project was cancelled. Perhaps another company can pick up the tab, those volumes sure are missed.

vonpat, August 21, 2008 at 8:59:15 AM CEST

Chris does a lot of visual effect supervising for the mill for projects that aren't his own. Which probably pays good money. I also heard that he got points on the horrors album for doing that video, which was the first time ive heard of such a thing. Maybe he's got something figured out that no one else does.

lusk81, August 21, 2008 at 5:17:03 PM CEST

vonpat: On set supervision? Post supervision? What projects...?

black_dust, August 21, 2008 at 6:48:34 PM CEST

He is Producing for the Horrors at the moment, he also Djs quite abit he did a festival in Norwich last year, and a few in Japan the year before, for which he also did videos for the tracks (star wars, Hitler etc...) and last i heard he was doing a screen play for a film that waould star sam Morton (from the Horrors video) but that might have fell through

vonpat, August 21, 2008 at 8:01:59 PM CEST

The spot I know for sure was a PSP spot and Chris's credit is VFX advisor to the Director. I also know a few people at the mill that told me he consults time and again. That is what he original did, i.e. Aliens etc.

dyna, August 22, 2008 at 7:51:13 AM CEST

Can someone tells me if he pays his bills online, or mails checks? Also, where does he shop for groceries, 'cause I wanna shop there.

scooper, August 22, 2008 at 9:33:01 AM CEST

i heard he pays on line. my best friend's brother's girlfriend's mum says she saw him in Tesco express in Camden once buying some sausages.

dim, August 22, 2008 at 8:49:40 PM CEST

I understand the artistic 'embarrassment' that can happen with retrospectives, but jeez... we all go through it. Its so much more illuminating to see a progression. I'm sure CC will dis-own his entire back-catalog in a few more years.


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