Rob Ulitski - 14th Oct 2021

The Trash Factory - aka James Arden - buries White Lies singer Harry McVeigh in sand, in the promo for As I Try Not To Fall.

Sitting in the middle of a custom-made room, we see the artist surrounded by off-kilter decor and furniture, whilst a steady stream of sand pours onto his head.

Against the clock, Veigh initially seems to accept his fate, embracing the situation he finds himself in, before taking back control and rising above the mountain he was trapped by.

Immediately arresting and striking to watch, Arden experiments with various references and iconography, whilst using a metaphorical ticking clock to up the ante throughout.


Harry was a trooper. He found sand in his ears for days.

"White Lies are post-punk legends and I’ve been waiting for a new album, so I was really excited when this brief came through. Luckily, it was one of those ideas that came almost fully-formed.

"I thought about how people fight to lift themselves out of emotional downward spirals, and ways we could explore that visually. Harry's lyric - "I'm no special grain of sand" - stirred up something, and then it seemed obvious: we should bury him in four tonnes of the stuff… which actually went very quickly on the day! Harry was a trooper, he found sand in his ears for days.

"Before pitching, I’d just finished a marathon of Tarkovsky’s films with my DoP Ronnie (we felt like frauds because we’d never seen any before, so sat down and blasted through them) and inevitably some references crept through into the look and feel of this promo, particularly the room with the sandy floor from Stalker.

"I also looked at pictures from Kolmanskop, this amazing ghost town in Namibia where sand has blown into abandoned buildings and created these beautiful, surreal settings. Surprisingly we couldn’t afford to go there, so we built our own set in London instead.

"It was a really fun challenge to limit ourselves to the confines of the room. We shot entirely on one 35mm lens, often getting up close to Harry to bring out the fragility in his performance, and differentiated the camera language as the song played out to tell a story - locked-off frames in the verses become sweeping wides in the choruses, as we move towards Harry breaking free from the emotional weight explored in the lyrics, and the physical weight of the sand.

"This one was an absolute dream to shoot and the whole incredible team pulled it out of thin air. I might bury more artists in the future."

PRO Credits


DirectorThe Trash Factory
ProducerMicheal Newton
Production CompanyLowkey Films
Executive ProducerVanessa Mc Donnell
1st ADDanny Stoker
Director of PhotographyRonnie McQuillan
Focus PullerJake Loft
2nd ACKristiana Zhekova
SteadicamOllie Smith
GafferLighting By Joe
Art DirectorWyndham Harris
WardrobeSophia Katyea
EditorScarlett Bovingdon
Editing companyWhite House Post
ColouristAlex O'Brien
Grading companyBlack Kite Studios
Post ProducerPolly Durrance
Director's RepresentationOB Management
CommissionerLaura Taylor - Redlight Management
LabelRedlight Management
Other creditsSpark - Ian Blackburn Standby Art Director - Daniel McCarthy Art Assistants - Selina Abdul Kareem, Matthew Allsop, Joshanne Dar, Blandine Blanchard Clothing Designer: JUNLI Editor Assistant: Eden Rae Read Runners - Sonny Greaney, Philip Patton Post Executive Producer (The White House) - Annabel Bennett Post-producer (The White House) - Amanda Jenkins

Rob Ulitski - 14th Oct 2021

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