Fanboy: How long have you been directing and how did you get into the business?
Paul Dugdale: Ive been directing since around 2006, but I got into music TV quite a lot earlier. My first proper TV job was on a UK TV show called TFI Friday around the early 2000s. I mostly worked for free at that point, but not only was it a really fun show to work on, the amount you learn actually doing a job when you are surrounded by an amazing team of people is invaluable. I wouldn’t say I learnt everything there but it was a great start and an amazing opportunity. I met a lot of talented people and it got the ball rolling. I shot a lot of music TV shows, festivals and award shows and made small music videos after that. XL Records gave me some amazing opportunities early on, although there was no Prodigy link at that time. Eventually I met a producer called Cordelia Plunket who liked my work and hooked me up with The Prodigy and basically helped launch my career as a full time director.
Fanboy: What / who inspired you to get into directing?
Paul Dugdale: A ton of stuff. Watching and taping endless music videos from MTV in the late 90s. Skate videos and early jackass or CKY videos had so much energy and were made so low fi. That was a big influence on the tour films because I realised you could make something raw and real without a huge production behind you. There’s a bunch of live performance TV stuff that I used to keep on VHS that blew my mind. Im friends with a guy that directed a gig for Radiohead I saw when I was 19 which I loved. I remind him about how it changed my life every time we’re drunk together. My dad was a huge inspiration too. When i was a kid he asked me to imagine a video for a song we were listening to. I could tell him straight away. It just made sense in my brain. I thought about music videos for songs all the time after that.
Fanboy: Have you always done music video / live show directing? Or did you start off in other areas?
Paul Dugdale: I started from the very bottom as a runner. Being a runner is an easy job but its hard to do well. Making cups of tea for a living doesn’t seem great at the time but it gives you the opportunity to learn so much from people, and also how to treat people. Next was being a camera assistant. That was massive for what I do, because I spent all day listening to incredible directors doing their thing. I learnt from some of the best music directors in the world.
Fanboy: When did you experience your “Ah-Ha! I’ve made it!” big break moment?
Paul Dugdale: To be honest they keep on coming to this day. I guess making the Invaders Must Die video was the first big one. The band put a huge amount of trust in me at that time, as I hadn’t made anything that big at that point. That was a big moment for me. Good party after too.
Fanboy: How do you respond to fans critique, that Milton Keynes had too much experimental, chaotic, fast paced camera shots and not enough steady shots of the band?
Paul Dugdale: Its hugely rewarding to hear people discuss your work. It is for any artist. I love the good stuff and am indifferent about the bad stuff. I went to art college and the most valuable lesson i learnt there was that to survive you have to have 100% solid belief in your creative ideas. If you dont, then you cant look someone in the eye and defend your work.
If someone thinks that I haven’t done it right then thats totally fine- everyone can have their opinion. What’s interesting to me is the reason why they dont like it. I’ll give anyone the opportunity to tell me if they dont like something but they have to have a good reason why. If I dont agree with their argument then I dont give a fuck. If they are right- I learn from it. When you stop doing that, you become an ass hole. The ‘Worlds on Fire’ film is what it feels like to be at a Prodigy show. It was meant to be a total assault on the senses and add to the buzz of the music. It does. If you want something more gentle, there’s plenty out there. Put your slippers on and go and have a great time.
Fanboy: The Prodigy’s Milton Keynes DVD has a lot of tracks that were left out from the show. Was this due to not enough time on the DVD or a decision made by the band?
Paul Dugdale: I cant really remember to be honest- probably a bit of both.
Fanboy: Has there ever or is there any ideas going around for a documentary of The Prodigy on the road?
Paul Dugdale: We’ve discussed it in the past, but I don’t think its something they’re thinking about right now. They have amazing tales and every time we are on tour there’s some insane story about what happened when they were once there. There’s a lot to tell. Its a great story.
Fanboy: How is the experience working with The Prodigy different to other bands you have worked with?
Paul Dugdale: Of course every band is different. I’m much closer to The Prodigy than I have been with any other band Ive worked with so far, so its hard to compare. I guess I’d sum it up like this- With The Prodigy, there’s no bullshit, and we all laugh a lot. For a band who have been together as long as them thats a pretty awesome place to be.
Fanboy: How do you manage your sanity while recording The Prodigy live? Do you wear earplugs or zone out, eliminate the sound and stay concentrated?
Paul Dugdale: Haha- this is a good question. A prodigy show is ‘the loudest show’. I spend a lot of time right next to the side fills on stage, or in the pit inches from the PA. Fans on the front row will know- bass can be so heavy it changes your breathing. I did try wearing headphones for a while but it just wasnt the same. When Im shooting this band myself, I love to get into the music- I want to hear it and feel it. I buzz off the tunes as much as the crowd. You react to the music and I think it makes the films better.
Fanboy: How are the tracks chosen for your YouTube videos of The Prodigy?
Paul Dugdale: Its comes down to the bands choice. Sometimes its obvious, sometimes we discuss what would suit that particular show, or the time we are making it.
Fanboy: Where does your editing style for The Prodigy come from? Are they a mixture of yours and the bands?
Paul Dugdale: From my first meeting with the band, they knew exactly what they wanted. In 2008 when I started there were hardly any tour films like these. We just wanted to make something really ferocious and visceral that didnt have any rules and complimented the music and the mad crowds. Thats where the style comes from- the experience of being at a show. The films are so aggressive and DIY, but they capture the feeling of being at a show- just as the skate films I had watched when i was growing up had hit the mark. Its still true today- we just want to capture that true feeling of being at a show. There’s something really satisfying about trying to create something so pure.
Fanboy: What advice can you give, from personal experience, to future directors?
Paul Dugdale: I used to go to an indie club night in London called FROG which was run by some mates. I made a film of their closing party for a laugh- to film all my friends pissed and having fun. It was just me and one super cheap camera. When I first met The Prodigy I had made a bunch of small music videos and films which I showed them. They wanted to see something more raw, so I decided to show them the FROG film of my drunk mates crashing around the club. That film basically got me the job that started my directing career which, looking back, is ridiculous. If you want to be a music director my advice would be ‘just make stuff’. Find small bands who want content and just do it. You never know when that break will come. That dumb film might just change your life.
An amazing director friend of mine who I lived with for a while included this quote in a film he made. I think it’s amazing:
‘The only way to push things forward is to risk something important.’