Video playlists from the most interesting people in the creative industries. We are the Desert Island Discs of internet video.

Site design ANGUS MACPHERSON
Build EVAN LELLIOTT

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Ella Fitzsimmons

Ella is Head of Narrative Strategy at Projects by IF, a technology studio specialising in ethical and practical uses of data. She’s lived and worked in 3 continents and is relieved about having finished her PhD about fashion, feminism, religion and authority online. She spends a lot of time thinking about how technology, stories and people fit together.

“A point at which you realize that you can move on.” by Toshie Takeuchi 5 Minutes

Odd and quietly delightful. Dashcam footage, but instead of crashes, outrage and wrongdoing, it’s long shots of driving behind a car that has a bed of dry leaves on the roof, the radio playing a local Finnish station, watching the Northern European countryside and the leaves falling off the car.

It makes me think of the tail end of being bored as a kid, when any change at all seems weird and wonderful. Autumn leaves in summer. Roxette on the radio. A kid with a skateboard by a country road. Daydreamy, without trying too hard.

Patentual New Boyfriend by Dolly Parton 3 Minutes

A grainy recording off the TV, uploaded by someone who either can’t spell or is avoiding copyright crackdowns. Hero. It’s also the best introduction to not-just-Jolene Dolly you’ll find. A celebration of women’s sexuality and (deservedly) a drag show staple.

Watch it to smirk at details that must have sprung from cocaine-fuelled “let’s see what we can get away with” creative meetings. Like the old lady chomping the phallic carrot, cut to Dolly cradling a big…mic. Schlocky 1980s humour subverted, with a lady boss in charge.

World’s Longest Escalator Systems - Hong Kong Central Mid-level 2 Minutes

I like hovercrafts, at-home barometers and gumball machines: things that work, but also seem like they’re from a version of the future that didn’t quite happen. The outdoor escalator in Hong Kong belongs on that list too. I used to live close to it, one of the tens of thousands of commuters that use it daily. Downhill in the morning, uphill from 10am.  

This video, in its fisheye-y, handheld glory, captures a bit of what life is like in Hong Kong. A brilliant, sometimes dilapidated, sometimes hypermodern place. I love that it looks like a holiday video on steroids. Extra points for the total lie of “actual normal walk” in the top left corner: the escalator never seemed to move quite this quickly.

Birmingham Rollers 6 Minutes

I could watch this video, by a Czech pigeon fancier, pretty much all day.

The pigeons climb into the sky, only to somersault down through the air. The first one looks like it might be an accident, but the long, silent shots of 5:31 minutes of Roller pigeons in and out of formation show it’s no such thing.

It looks joyful and soothing, not perilous, though I suppose it must be all of three. My parents used to keep Roller pigeons when I was a child, and maybe this film triggers some sort of memory.

The comments put me on to Mike Tyson’s love of Roller pigeons. Of course. The kind of unexpected connections YouTube was made for. Tigers and Rollers and Tyson.

“When we realise that all the tides of history…” 1 Minutes

Aneurin Bevan at his last Party congress. Slightly out of focus. Brocade backdrop, which I hope was an unsubtle, on-the-nose red. A woman to his left, listening. (Her hand daintily on artfully made up face, because 1959 was a cesspit of gender norms, even if you were at a speech about socialism.) An older man to Bevan’s right, who seems to lose and regain concentration at points of the speech that make little sense to me. And at 0.42, a middle aged man behind Bevan, sucking on a pipe.

But it’s Bevan himself, all adrenaline and righteousness, who is the star:

“When we realise, that all the tides of history are flowing in our direction. That we are NOT beaten. That we represent the future. Then when we say it, and mean it, we shall lead our people to where they deserve to be led.”

YouTube may be today’s most extreme propaganda machine, but it’s hardly the first one. Who is remembered and celebrated has always been political. If Churchill had delivered this speech, it would be in ads, curricula and films. Make it so.

HBA GALVANIZE BY WENCH 15 Minutes

Sure, it has 77k views, but I wish more people knew this Jesse Kanda/Arca/Shayne Oliver collaboration. Made for Hood by Air a couple of years ago, the Fatboy Slim intro had me worried it might be a bit second marriage stag party. It’s not. It’s great.

I tend to think of Jesse Kanda’s films as being all morphing and uncanny images. Organic, if things lived and decayed on Jupiter. Like the work he does for Bjork and Arca. This video has a lot more space to it, and I think it’s mainly reworked found footage. It makes me look at that pigeons and truck clip completely differently. The crashing buildings feel both industrial and aestheticised. The burning bridge somehow free of shonky metaphors. All in time to Shayne Oliver’s and Arca’s remix of everyone from Tatu to Chris Clark.

It could have been SO bad. Imagine this in the hands of people who didn’t have incredible taste? And the craft to make it work? A National Geographic screensaver for the ketamine age. Just wrong. Instead, it’s one of the best uses of the internet I know.

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