Apart from being an entertaining look at his films, this was an opportunity for students to get some invaluable insider tips on the highly competitive filmmaking industry. What followed was an honest (and at times comic) insight into Thraves’ career and the lessons he’s learned along the way. If you missed the talk, here’s a brief overview.
Thraves’ journey in film began in 1989 at Hull University where he studied Illustration. His early work – mainly paintings and drawings – was influenced by ’30s German painters, Max Beckman and George Grosz. It was only after seeing David Lynch’s Eraserhead that he began experimenting with film.
His 1991 graduation film, Scratch – a dark tale about a young man who won’t stop scratching his head – went on to win numerous awards at short film festivals around the world. He later made another award-winning film under the ‘BFI New Directors’ scheme, The Take-Out (1993).
The success of his earlier films got him into the Royal College of Art (RCA), where he studied an MA in Film & Television. It was here that he made yet another award-winning film, The Hackney Downs – a film, Thraves tell us, “he is very proud of”.
On leaving the RCA he joined leading music video company, Oil Factory. This was to be his “big break”, as It was here that he made his iconic music video for Radiohead’s 1995 song, Just. For Thraves, this music video was unique in that it had a “seven page script with dialogue.” He saw it as more of a short film than a music video, because it has a beginning, a middle and an end. It was to be his most successful music video to date.
Pleased with his recent success, yet keen not to be labelled as a ‘pop video director’, Thraves focussed his energies on producing a feature film (turning down various ‘pop video’ offers along the way). His determination paid off and in 2000 he worked with Film 4 to make his first feature, The Low Down. The film was named among the “neglected masterpieces” of film history by The Observer in its rundown of 50 Lost Movie Classics.
In time, Thraves’ appreciation of music videos had grown and he began making films for The Verve, Blur, Death Cab For Cutie and Coldplay. His video for Coldplay’s The Scientist won three Moon Men at the 2003 VMA’S in the US, including Best Direction and Breakthrough Video.
Despite the success of The Scientist, Thraves was keen to show us his Death Cab for Cutie video, I Will Follow You into the Dark, an idea he had had for seven years. He comments, “I never gave up on it, I kept putting it in.” A fine example of the old saying; “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again”.
Fast forward to the noughties, and Thraves has made his third feature film, Treacle Jr. Described in Timeout as “funny, touching and gritty”, the film has won the Hitchcock D’Or – Grand Jury Prize – at the Dinard Film Festival.
Thraves’ has had an illustrious career, but he didn’t get there without hard work. His advice for LCC’s filmmakers in a nutshell: be brave, believe in your ideas, build rapport with your clients, and if your ideas don’t get taken-up the first time, keep trying.
We look forward to finding out who the the next speaker will be as part of the ongoing Futures Programme.