Melbourne-based filmmaker Kris Moyes’ unique style has come to the fore in music videos for bands like The Presets, Architecture in Helsinki and Sia – films that not only capture an emotion, but evoke visceral, animated responses from their audiences. Most recently he’s been in New York, shooting the new music video for Grizzly Bear, the band at the top of his ‘must work with’ list.
“I’ve got a list of people I’d like to work with that feel really unattainable,” says Moyes from his house in Fitzroy, while chopping bits of fruit and putting them into the blender. He’s making a smoothie and between stories, he lists the ingredients and why they work well together. “They’ve (Grizzly Bear) been at the top of that list for about five years now, then one day I got a call from Chris Taylor: ‘Hi Kris, my name is Chris Taylor, I’m not sure if you know me but I’m from a band called Grizzly Bear and I love your work,’ he said.
“I was like, ‘Yeah I think I’ve heard of you guys’,” says Moyes, giggling.
Moyes is from a creative Sydney family. His brother Kim is one half of The Presets and, separately, they’ve forged reputations as two of Australia’s most dynamic artists. They grew up in Sydney’s northern beaches and Kris got his break shooting films for Kim. Since then, Moyes’ inimitable style of filmmaking has seen him rise in industry and garner attention all over the world. His films are diverse, striking a balance between popular and countercultures, appealing to the masses with their sexiness and humour and testing people with their dark undertones.
It seems that above all else, Moyes is a talented storyteller and he’s able to carry that ability across mediums and genres. You can get a feel for the breadth of his work by watching any two of his films back to back. They are always challenging – whether silly or sympathetic – and they’ll have only production elements in common.
One scene in particular comes to mind from his 2006 film clip for Are You the One? by The Presets, which features some lo-fi, black and white footage of a conversation between two friends at a gig in Sydney. Midway through one song, the man leans over to his friend and whispers something in her ear. At the same time, subtitles appear on the screen. “Man this band sucks, I wish we were listening to The Presets,” the man says. “Why, they suck too!” the girl replies.
But while humour is at the heart of his most recognisable work, Moyes’ recent collaboration with Kirin J Callinan marks a shift into a more dramatic sphere, gushing a stream of sexual innuendos between a woman in a veil, a man in Speedos and a half naked child. “The irony of that video is that it was designed to alienate the audience. But it just won the Triple J Award for best video a few weeks ago. I was like ‘hang on a second, this video was designed to be hated by people’,” he muses.
Moyes is collaborating with Callinan again this weekend at The Forum Theatre in Melbourne for Sugar Mountain Festival. While he is unwilling to unveil the details of the performance, it promises to be another edgy expression. “It’s just been really exciting having someone like him to riff with,” Moyes says of Callinan. “He’s got a great mind, he’s a great creative thinker.”