Steve McCallum: Purephase

A Pure Vision: Steve McCallum.

WAMI and WA Screen Award winning film maker, Steve McCallum has been responsible for making film clips for some of Perth’s most popular bands in the last few years.

After dropping out of film at university due to a lack of job prospects, Steve got a regular job and saved some cash while trying to decide what exactly it was that he wanted to do with his life.

“Then one day I just went ‘I want to be a film maker’,” he says.

Steve currently works out of Blackbird Sound Studios. Several years ago, he was playing in bands that were recording at Blackbird. Other bands were coming in to also record and needed film clips so, he started his own business – Transmission Productions and its creative wing Purephase.

At first Steve found making film clips hard because he effectively had to teach himself how to use a lot of the equipment and figure out how to get the ideas for the clips onto film. Being a musician however, helped him to understand what musicians were after.

“I knew the biggest problem with doing film clips for bands in Perth is that if they go to a film studio it’s gonna cost way too much and they end up kind of sometimes being a bit cheesy and stuff like that. Because I was involved in music and around a lot of musicians, I understood their language a lot more.”

In the three and a half years that Steve has been making film clips he has racked up an impressive list of credits.

These include the WA Screen Award winning Snowman clip ‘Smoke and Mirrors’, the WAMI Award winning ‘You’re A Casino’ as well as ‘Swimming With Sharks’. He is also responsible for Red Jezebel’s ‘Kicking Deadly Sins’ and ‘More Than You’ll Ever Know’ clips along with Capital City’s ‘Let’s Throw Our Love Away’, Sugar Army’s ‘And Now You’re Old Enough, I Think That You Should Know’ and The Silents, ‘23’.

The whole process of making the clips can be quite lengthy. Naturally first up, Steve and the band come up with ideas.

“If you close your eyes and listen to a song generally images or colours or themes start to appear and we’ll sit down and go through that process and think of things that relate to the music and try and work out a way to physically make that happen on the screen.”

He continues: “Because of that [process] a lot of the videos are very abstract and quite intuitive. I try to make a video of what I would imagine in my head when I’m listening to a song.”

Steve is quite often involved in every stage of making the clips. After coming up with ideas, he will shoot, edit and service the clip to the media and Internet.

“Because of the budgets we’re working on and being more creative I think it’s better. There’s enough ideas with the band so I tend to do every aspect,” he says.

Steve says a small budget will not necessarily equate to a bad film clip.

“I’m not really interested in doing high budget film clips that much, if I did it would probably be with a crew and I’d feel less emotionally attached to it.”

He continues: “That’s the main thing I want to do – clips that I actually want to do and I’m passionate about. I treat it more like art than a job. The budget can be a restriction but, if you’ve got a really good idea, there’s generally a way around it. It’s a little bit more stressful trying to make it happen but, it always seems to work out.”

Steve’s focus is mainly working with Perth bands and particularly those he forms friendships with. He has also branched into photography, having just done a shoot with Snowman.

“It becomes a pretty integral part of their whole identity. The music’s one thing, then making it visual is a really important part and I guess that’s one thing I try to make – whether it’s photos or video – try to make a visual representation of what the sound is.”

Having recently completed the new The Silents Clip ‘Little Girl Lost’, the creative process is beginning all over again for Steve, once again with Snowman.

“We’re in full ball trying to get the new Snowman film clip up and running. I’m in the idea phase at the moment. I’m not sure what’s really going to happen with it yet but, hopefully it’ll be awesome.”

Steve McCallum on MySpace

Copyright (C) 2008 Christina Ballico.

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