A Northland artist has landed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a music video for one of the world’s most famous musicians.
Waipū illustrator/artist Evan Heasman, aka “Soju Shots”, and his friend and animator Chris Callus were recently handpicked by British singer-songwriter and Grammy-award-winning artist Ed Sheeran to create an official music video for his new album, Autumn Variations.
The “Fan Created Music Video” project was a worldwide callout for artists, attracting more than 4000 entries from 75 countries.
Heasman and Callus were one of only 14 submissions from 14 different countries to be selected.
The first Heasman heard about the opportunity was when he was tagged by a friend in Sheeran’s Instagram post announcing the callout in September.
Heasman said while he was a fan, he wasn’t an animator, so he contacted Wellington-based Callus to collaborate on the project.
“I naturally thought of Chris because we’ve worked together before and he’s always been really respectful of my work, so our dynamic works well,” Heasman said.
“When we first applied we didn’t know anything about the songs as the album hadn’t been released yet.
“We ended up getting picked for the song Punchline and I’m glad they gave us that song because it’s got quite a lot of emotion, which works well with animation.”
The pair interpreted the song (released with the album on September 29) as talking about someone coming to terms with a break-up or loss of connection - be it a friendship, partner or something else.
Heasman said they had a week to nail the music video’s concept, landing on a walking scene of a sad, anthropomorphic (human-like) fox being followed by an ominous, transforming creature.
The creature is meant to represent what it’s like to have spiralling emotions and the feeling of being unable to walk away when experiencing all-consuming thoughts.
In the end, by accepting and becoming one with the creature, the fox can process the troubling thoughts and move on in peace.
Heasman said the idea came after going for a walk and after getting the go-ahead from Sheeran’s team, he and Callus embarked on an intense, albeit exciting few weeks of creating.
“There was a lot of pressure on us and we worked three weeks straight, day and night, with no weekends,” Heasman said.
“It was so worth it and one of the best things was working with Chris, we’re like a dream team.
“To also have the creative freedom to create all the things I love drawing like foxes, dragons and jellyfish was incredible.
“I’m still a bit shell-shocked, to be honest. The feedback has been so wonderful and I’m so grateful to my friend who tagged me in that post.”
Callus agreed the last few weeks had been hectic and that the lead-up to last Tuesday’s release of the video to Sheeran’s 23 million Facebook followers had been nerve-racking.
Since then, the video had been viewed more than 100,000 times on YouTube.
Callus said he’d also really enjoyed working with Heasman and compared their collaboration to “digital puppetry”.
“Evan would combine a range of hand drawing, inking and painting techniques to craft hundreds of illustration pieces,” he said.
“The illustrations were then passed over to me, which I would bring to life through character animation, camera movement and digital effects.”
Callus said this project was the highest-profile client he’d ever worked for and would love the opportunity to do more work in that space.
“The reaction to the video has been so amazing and watching it live with so many positive comments was quite relieving!” Callus said.
“You never know how people will react, so I’m really stoked to see it out there and to be able to share it with friends and family.
“Telling my nieces about it and seeing their faces was also quite funny.”
To watch the full music video, visit: es.lnk.to/Punchline_NZ.”
To check out more about the creative process behind the music video, visit: chriscallus.com/Ed-Sheeran-Punchline