Time to flip the script!
Over the past year, we’ve managed to interview singers, producers and lyricists. But there is another individual who has increasingly become a crucial element in the overall team behind a song – the video director.
In this day and age, music videos form a massive part behind the promotional campaign of a track. We’ve started to see a trend that if a song doesn’t have a music video, it will, more often than not, get overlooked. The music video has so much power that, if shot well, it can elevate a track’s popularity, and on the flipside, hinder the track’s success if a sub par video is created. This is all totally independent of the quality of the track itself.
It’s one thing to shoot and edit a music video. It’s another thing to create one that is quality and leaves a lasting impression. One video director has been doing just that, creating music videos with fresh concepts and quality visuals. His name is Sunny Dhinsey, more commonly known by his company name – Filmlore. His work, over the years, has caught the eye of many industry heavyweights, namely Gurdas Maan and Diljit Dosanjh!
Bhangra Tape Deck caught up with Sunny to discuss his beginnings as a young teenager with a dream, to working with the biggest names in the Panjabi music industry.
How did you get into the whole video production game? Where did Filmlore come from?
I think I’d have to say it all started in the Winter of 2000, when I got the chance to do some acting in the Bollywood film, ‘Mohabbatein’, which was being shot in the UK at the time. I spent two weeks on the set, and as a young teenager, seeing the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Yash Chopra and Aditya Chopra on set was an incredible experience. Although I was in front of the camera, I found myself more fascinated with the work going on behind the scenes – the actual film making process itself. I knew from then on that film directing was what I wanted to do. The following year, I was called back to take part in the filming of another Bollywood film – ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham’. Again, being surrounded by a large group of professionals that really represented the pinnacle of the Indian Film Industry was hugely inspirational. A lot of these Indian Assistant Directors on two films went on to eventually direct films such as ‘Dostana’ and ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’. So it was definitely a great environment to be bitten by the film making bug, you could say, haha. Those two films were a really good experience. Moving on from that, I made sure that I learnt the craft of filmmaking as well as possible. After graduating in Film and Media Production, I actually went into Documentary Film making. Whilst making those documentaries, I would write blogs of my film making experience. The name ‘Filmlore’ actually started as my blogger name, and then it was adopted to be my directorial moniker. It’s basically a play on the word, ‘Folklore’, and essentially means creating stories through film that leave a lasting legacy.
Filmlore, your company, is making a big stamp in the Panjabi Music Industry. Has it always been part of your plan to penetrate this scene?
Foraying into music video production was a way to progress towards the eventual plan to move into feature film direction. I approach each music video as though it’s the process of creating a short film. It’s a good way to hone your craft as a storyteller, because you only have a matter of minutes in which to tell an entire narrative. I got great opportunities in a very short space of time and initially started off collaborating with UK artists at home, and then decided to fly the UK flag abroad!
I’ve always wanted to give something back to Panjabi culture in general. It’s my identity – it’s who I am. Being a UK born Panjabi, it was a priority to support the UK Panjabi scene on a global scale – not just restricting to the UK. It’s always great when people from India, Canada, USA, Australia and so on, appreciate something that is essentially homegrown in the UK. Beyond that, for me, it’s all about the end product. It’s about making the kind of videos that I would want to watch. I wouldn’t say I had a specific plan to penetrate a particular scene – I just had a clear objective that the work would be of the best possible quality, and that it would be watched and appreciated by as many people as possible, I guess. If a result of that is making an impact on the industry, then that’s a great thing.
You have been behind the videography for Gurdas Maan’s ‘Innovation’ tour and Diljit Dosanjh’s ‘Tour Dosanjh’ tour in the UK. What was it like working with 2 completely different, but massive, artists from our scene?
Well, although the two artists may differ in some ways as you’ve just mentioned, my experiences with them both found far more fundamental similarities between them, as opposed to differences. The greatest thing was seeing how humble and down to earth both artists are as human beings, and at the same time, how dedicated they are to their work. You don’t need to shoulder a big ego to be a superstar – you just need hard work, undying passion and creativity, as well as utilising your talent effectively. These are things that are much more important in my eyes. I was fortunate to be part of the team behind Gurdas Maan’s ‘Punjab’ video, and it was incredible to see that, even after such an extensive career, Maan Saab is relentless in his energy and his passion for his work. That can really lift an entire unit of people, and sometimes you need that lift. When you need it most, his energy is there, and it carries everybody through a project. It’s difficult not to be inspired by a living timeless legend. Similarly, Diljit’s ambition to continually push the boundaries of what can be achieved – it’s something that I’ve connected with instantly. You know the idea that nothing is really impossible. We should be immensely proud that our mother tongue, our PANJABI mother tongue, has given rise to such global icons, and it was a pleasure to work with them both.
You seem to have formed a very close working relationship with Gurj Sidhu, having been the video director for all of his music videos from ‘Patta Lagg Ju’. What has it been like working with him?
It’s always incredibly exciting when Gurj sends me a song that he’s been working on and the process of creating concepts for the videos begins to take place. We spend a lot of time developing the ideas for videos, and Gurj is very much hands on with the process from start to finish. The great thing about working with Gurj is that there are no boundaries or limits as to what we can do concept wise with the videos for his songs. This limitless approach also applies to the music he makes – I think he approaches his music in the same way. It’s refreshing to see that he treats the video process with equal flexibility, as it enables you to be creative without limits. Gurj is a fresh young talent, with an amazing voice, and it’s good to see UK talent making waves worldwide. It’s been a great fun process on all of the videos we’ve made so far, such as ‘Backyard’ and ‘Deep Obsession’, and I’m pleased to say that this is only the start of things to come with Gurj and I.
The videos and concepts you create have a sense of quality associated with them. How hard do you work to ensure your products are of a quality nature?
Planning. Planning is by far the most important part of the process. Usually I will listen to the song many times over before establishing a concept. In terms of actually creating the concept itself, there is no set formula – it’s an art form. Video directors, I believe, are artists too. We also have to be inspired – whether it’s by the music, the vocals, the lyrics or our own experiences. But once a concept has been established, together with extensive planning, I do my best to ensure it does justice to the song. As for hard work, it’s definitely a team effort. The most important part of the process, in addition to planning, is having a group of people who understand your vision, and people that will do everything in their power to bring that vision to reality. Personally, I enjoy making concept driven videos. Thankfully, the artists I work with like to think outside of the box too.
Good visuals have now become just as important to the success of a track, as well as the actual track. Visuals can really make or break a track’s success. How much importance should artists be putting on good quality visuals?
It might sound like a strange thing for a video director to say, but I actually think it’s unfortunate that good visuals determine the success of the track in some instances. As a fan of Panjabi music, I feel the audio should be judged on its own merits. In many cases, a poor video actually reduces the credibility of an otherwise great song. Nowadays, what we’re seeing is that even good visuals are being overlooked, and the so called success of a track is being measured by how many YouTube views and hits the video has, which is quite crazy. It’s an unfortunate situation and personally I hope this damaging trend passes at some point, because so much good music is being disposed of, simply because it hasn’t been given the glossy PR packaging of other songs. I always try to ensure that the videos I’m going to make, at the very least, do justice to the song, and beyond that, actually makes the audience like the song even more.
In relation to your question, when it’s decided that a song should have a video, then absolutely, the artist should invest all the time and all the resources possible in making sure that the director can do their job to their fullest potential. We shouldn’t just reduce the art form to a formality, simply because it’s now expected that song should have a video. Also, it’s important to favour quality over quantity, as well. In years to come, only good quality work will stand the test of time.
What has been your career highlight to date, and why?
There really have been many highlights already, so far, but one moment that really stands out was when I had the chance to introduce my parents to Gurdas Maan. My earliest memories as a child are films such as ‘Long Da Lishkara’, and ‘Ucha Dar Babe Nanak Da’, you know, playing on VHS in our house. So, effectively, my parents introduced me to who Gurdas Maan, the artist, was, when I was a toddler. It was kind of like completing a very magical circle, as I then introduced my parents to Gurdas Maan, the person. That was definitely a personal and career highlight for sure.
You recently won the Best Video Producer award at this year’s UK Bhangra Awards. How did it feel to see your work being appreciated and celebrated by the public?
It’s always an incredible feeling when the public appreciate your work and creativity. I think that is what drives me to do what I do. The awards are a really nice way for audiences and creatives to connect with one another, and to show a mutual appreciation. More so, it feels good that the efforts of a team are recognised by the public and our peers in the industry. Although it was an award for Best Director, there’s a whole host of people involved in making everything possible. I think awards should be celebrated, but at the same time, they should serve as a reminder that everything is the byproduct of hard work and passion, and that nothing should be taken for granted. I’ve got a great team to thank – both in the UK and around the world. It’s great to say that this is merely the beginning. It’s just the start of things.
I would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Bhangra Tape Deck and to your readers and followers. Please continue to show your support and I look forward to connecting with you once again very soon.
Social Media Links
You can follow all the latest updates from Sunny Dhinsey (Filmlore) on the following platforms:
Bhangra Tape Deck would like to thank Sunny Dhinsey (Filmlore) for taking the time out to talk about his career to date. He is another UK talent that should be supported and pushed. No doubt we’ll be seeing more of his work in the near future.