Ben Jones - BBC Manchester - 24th October 2006
Q: What do LS Lowry and Oasis have in common? A: They cast no shadow (Take a look at a Lowry). Here’s another: Liam and Noel are the new matchstick figures in Lowry's paintings. The result could be a music video classic:
Ben Jones is dead chuffed. The video he made for Oasis’ The Masterplan had its first TV airing on TOTP2 on Saturday (21 October 2006). "It’s just great!" he says. "I mean, to have a video on Top of the Pops, it’s just one of those things you think: ‘that would be fantastic!"
Working with his partner Greg for production company Partizan, Ben wrote and directed the video in which a cartoon version of the Gallaghers wander through Lowry’s paintings of industrial Manchester and, along the way, tell the Oasis story.
Oasis fans can look out for: the house on Sandicroft Street where they were born; Noel’s first ever Man City game; Liam’s swagger; the gasworks where Noel wrote the songs for Definitely Maybe after breaking his leg; Johnny Roadhouse (where they bought their first guitars) and Sifters, where the Burnage boys used to buy their records.
While lovers of LS Lowry can enjoy paintings and characters including Man Lying on A Wall, Fairground in Daisy Nook and Going to the Match - all given a modern twist. Ben Jones explains all:
It’s a great idea. What was the plan for The Masterplan?
"Well, we were told that we couldn’t actually use the band themselves because they were in the middle of recording so we’d have to come up with another idea. eg use old footage; do a film that didn’t include them in it; or something else. Basically, we didn’t like any of the other routes, so we thought: how about animation? So particularly given the Yellow Submarine that was done for the Beatles, we thought: maybe there’s something in this."
Why set it in a Lowry landscape?
"To me the song is very much about Oasis’ past and the soul of the band. And to us, the soul of the band is Manchester. And Lowry is the obvious connection back to Manchester for us. So we went away, bought lots of books, and built up a narrative story of the band based on Lowry paintings. And that was all within a 24-hour period because we only got 24 hours to come up with an idea! Then we approached the band with it .. and they came back and said: 'We love it. Can you make it work?' "
How much help did you have from the Lowry?
"To be perfectly honest, we couldn’t have done this without them. They've been fantastic and very open-minded about the use of Lowry imagery. Basically, they realised that: here was a chance for a lot of the Lowry work to go to a completely new audience and get huge exposure, really. And I think because it was Oasis, and because it was Manchester, it just fitted really really well."
Who came up with the references to Oasis and Lowry?
"It was always our idea to layer the video with lots and lots of Lowry references, Oasis references and Manchester references. Because there’s no official biography of the band, we ended up with a huge list of stuff which we went to Noel with and said, we could potentially put into the video. Things like Sandicroft Street, which you see in the video, which is the street where they were born; you’ve got Hacienda in there, the G-Mex and so on…. We always said: what we want to do is to use huge chunks of Lowry paintings but add little bits on to give it a modern twist."
Was it difficult animating Lowry figures?
"We had to really try and interpret exactly how Lowry characters would move because we had no idea. But I think we tried to keep all the figures as basic as we possibly could in that fantastic Lowry style. If you look at it, there’s not a lot in there that have shadows. We purposely did that. Some things needed it like moving vehicles.. But a lot of the characters and the band don’t have shadows when they’re walking along the street. I think if we had done it would have probably looked very different. Lowry never painted in that way."
And what did Liam and Noel say when they saw it?
"Well, it’s interesting. The first thing we did was to animate Liam and Noel - and in particular Liam’s swagger! So we did a lot of drawings and showed them and said: look this is how you’ll walk, this is what you’ll look like on stage. So they kind of saw it bit by bit. Eventually we showed them what was nearly a finished version.. and they absolutely loved it. They just said: ‘This is fantastic! This is exactly what we wanted.’ And we were over the moon."
The video for ‘The Masterplan’ was first shown on TOTP2, Saturday, 9.05pm BBC Two, 21 October 2006
The Masterplan is featured on the Stop The Clocks EP (released 13 November) which is a preview of the first ever Oasis ‘Best Of’ of the same name, released on 20 November.