Emmy-nominated director Em Cooper has created a beautifully passionate music video for The Beatles by hand-painting 1,300 oil paintings and transforming them into a dreamy, fluid animation. The work for I'm Only Sleeping follows the recent release of Revolver Special Edition.
The London-based artist and Jelly director was appointed to create a new video for the famous Beatles track– a song that contains gorgeous harmonies, experimental recording methods and avant-garde composition, all of which make up the pioneering approach to the music of The Beatles' seventh studio album. Cooper says she wanted to "explore the space between dreaming and wakefulness" and therefore chose to work on an animation rostrum on sheets of celluloid. She painted every frame individually in oil paint, a laborious process which took many months.
"It was a project that I felt an immediate spark for right from the word go, and somehow that momentum carried me right through to the end," Cooper said of the video. "I love The Beatles. We used to listen to this song on a tape in the car when I was a child, and the song itself evokes such a mesmerising, languid, dreamy state. In a way, my job was only to follow its lead with a paintbrush in my hand."
Whilst working on the video, Cooper admits the song and its many messages felt especially relevant today. "I began with the thought that this would simply be John drifting in and out of sleep, flowing between wakefulness and memory and peppered with surreal moments, dipping into the history of The Beatles, with everything fleeting and ungraspable," she explains. "But the meanings of the film soon began to spread out, encompassing The Beatles' anti-war feelings and reflecting on our place in the world."
"In my work, I've always been interested in using paint to evoke thought or subjective experience – the way things flow inside your mind. So for me, this song which sways between the inner world of sleep and the outer world of waking was a thrilling and beautiful opportunity," she concludes.
Em Cooper's work for The Beatles premiered at London's Outernet last week. The project follows her work for Stella Artois's Christmas campaign in 2021, featuring Matt Damon, which used watercolour rather than oil paint. Discover her work at emcooper.com.