Risk taking – are we all playing it too safe?

Feel Food Lost - Take me to the Church, Hozier

Back in August 2013 my son Brendan Canty was telling me about a music video he had been working on that he was really excited about.

He had done a video for a guy called Hozier and he felt that the song was really strong and on top of that they had a cracking, possibly controversial concept for a storyline. The song had been ‘out there‘ for a while but this video might just take it to a new place. Brendan was really excited about it as he believed he had produced a special video.

As always he pulled in a bunch of talented volunteers (check out the cast below), family and friends and both he and as his partner in Feel Good Lost, Conal Thomson gave it everything. He reckoned it was his best work to date (strangely I disagree – he has done even better in my view).

I remember that day in the Fuzion office in September when he showed us the finished product. He was right, it was a really powerful, brave, fantastic, thought provoking music video. “This is going to huge” was the collective view.

Brendan uploaded the video to YouTube that day and sure enough the views came tumbling in almost immediately. Every day we watched the numbers rising and rising and then the media started featuring it. I remember at an early stage the US online news platform The Huffington Post reviewed it. Wow!

16 months later across all video platforms ‘Take me to the Church‘ has been viewed over 100 million times, Hozier is a world wide music star and the rest is history.

His follow up music video’s ‘From Eden‘ and ‘Sedated‘ attracted four and three million views respectively. These are huge numbers but obviously nothing like ‘Take me to the Church‘.

We were travelling back from Dublin by car last week with Brendan and I was asking him about his work with Hozier. Hozier is a great guy who always credits Brendan/Feel Good Lost when he is asked about the video but for some reason they have not worked together since.

I find this incredible – surely the collective team that struck gold on this video should work together? I pressed Brendan about this. He was asked to do the next video and between the jigs and reels between Brendan, Hozier and the record company they couldn’t settle on a concept.

In the end he was asked to produce the video but he wasn’t comfortable with the chosen concept so he declined. I find this to be incredibly brave and I must admire his artistic conviction. This was after a huge conversation I had with with Brendan that went something like “Are you totally nuts??!!“.

Brendan Canty - Feel Good Lost, Take me to the Church, HozierI was asking him if he thought he would work with Hozier again. He wasn’t sure but he said a very strange thing, which really struck a chord with me.

An approach like ours would probably be considered to be too risky for him now. He is huge and he probably wouldn’t be allowed to do anything like what we did on the ‘Take me to The Church’ video as it could damage his following“.

I understood what he was saying but it didn’t stop me asking “But, isn’t that what brought him all the attention in the first place?

Why is it that when we have nothing to lose we take risks but when we have it all to lose we end up playing it safe?

..are we all playing it too safe?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

The Volunteers and some background info..

Notes from the director:

Brendan Canty: “As Take Me to Church is such a powerful and thought-provoking song we felt the video needed to be the same. We wanted to create something that challenged the audience and made them sit up and really think.

“The song is about sexuality, humanity and liberation, so after many discussions between us and Andrew (Hozier) we came up with a concept drawing on these themes and on the current situation in Russia – i.e the widespread ostracisation of homosexuals and the widespread condoning of their torture and murder. It was a real challenge for us and with a story as big as this, and a subject so topical we had to get it 100% spot on.

“The casting was crucial and our two leads (Daniel Coughlan and Emmet O’Riabhaigh) and the main thug (Patrick Sheahan) gave phenomenal performances in this video. With the help of them, the rest of the amazing cast and crew, Roger and Niall at Rubyworks and Andrew (Hozier) I feel we nailed it.”

Credits:

DIRECTOR: Brendan Canty
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Feel Good Lost
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Brendan Canty
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Conal Thomson
1ST AD: Emmet O’Brien
PRODUCER: Adam McCarthy
PRODUCER : Emmet O’Brien
PRODUCER: Damien McCarthey
DIRECTOR’S REPRESENTATION: Chloe Page
ACTORS: 
Emmet O’Riabhaigh
Daniel Coughlan
Patrick Sheahan
Christopher O’Flaherty
SPECIAL THANKS:
Diarmuid, Aidan & Val O’Donovan
Niall and Roger at Rubyworks
Caoillian Sherlock
Denise Heffernan
David Maloney

Emmet O’Riabhaigh

Emmet O' Riabhaigh, Hozier, Take me to the Church

Daniel Coughlan

Daniel Coughlan, Hozier, Take me to the Church

 

Patrick Sheahan

Patrick Sheahan, Hozier, Take me to the Church

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9 Responses to “Risk taking – are we all playing it too safe?”

  1. Fergal Bell Says:

    Great post, Greg. Is it the fear of losing the piece of something that we’ve gained?

    Maybe the risk and acceptance that we’ll fail sometimes is worth it to create something great.

    Your post made me think of how David Bowie has reinvented himself numerous times over the years.

    There are no guarantees that you’ll get it right but if we stick to a formula don’t we inevitably become formulaic?

    Fair dues to Brendan. He took a decision that carries the risk and it may not work out but whether it does or not, if he follows this path he’ll certainly create a very fulfilling career for himself.

  2. antoniakmoore Says:

    Reblogged this on The Music Journo Devise .

  3. Fergal Bell Says:

    I’m sure you’ve seen this already, Greg:
    http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/artsfilmtv/how-a-euro1500-video-made-in-cork-made-hozier-the-biggest-name-in-music-310955.html

  4. Kieran McCarthy Says:

    What a wonderful achievement and great to see someone who knows their own style, where it works, where it may not. There is nothing wrong with being known as the guy who turned down Hozier. Steve Jobs is famous for saying “focusing is about saying no”

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