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Washed Out
Interview by Ally Mullen
Watch the exclusive video for Washed Out's "All I Know," directed by Daniel Kragh-Jacobsen.

Hi Daniel! Where did you grow up and how did you get your start in the film industry?

I grew up in Copenhagen and my family are kind of "film people." My father does documentary film and my mom is a screenwriter and directs theater too, so I guess it started from my childhood, hanging out in my mom's theater, having fun. I graduated from junior college when I was 19 and I basically worked odd jobs to survive — like a director's assistant or a casting assistant. Casting is what I really love about doing films so I worked in the field a lot.

When did your career in filmmaking start to take off?

I directed things all through my twenties but this past summer is the first time I’ve been making a living out of doing film. I just graduated from a film school out here in L.A. called the American Film Institute Conservatory, which is a special program for film schools because it’s very secluded and departmentalized. I did a lot of music videos on the side because I had opportunities to direct stuff that I was excited about. It’s been very lucky for me because now that I’m out [of school] I don’t have to build up my reel and my projects from the bottom. I’ve already gotten some stuff under my vest.

Are you friends with Washed Out?

No, it's been really weird because I haven't met Ernest from Washed Out, I haven't had any contact with him besides notes from the video and it's very nice because he's given me almost complete creative control. But it's also weird because you don't know the person, what excites them, and what they like about film. So I just went with what I like.

How did you interpret the song "All I Know?"" What is the story behind it?

For me it's always trying to find something personal to talk about in these music videos. If can connect to part of a lyric or part of the rhythm that sparks sort of a memory in me I normally go from there, and I usually try to tell the artists why this is important for me and why this story comes to mind. It's been many years since I've experienced this, but the video is based off an experience when I was like 19 or 20. The good thing about doing something personal, even if you don't have a lot of time, you have a vision.

The video feels like a short film. As a director, do you consider yourself a storyteller?

Yeah, I mean definitely that's what motivates me to watch films in the first place. I come from watching features and watching a lot of television shows. And I admire music video directors that aren't about showing the star in a cool way, but maybe implementing the artist in a narrative way. I've always wanted to just tell stories I guess, and the music video format is visceral, because if the music is good it just taps into your emotions and makes it so much easier if you're just telling a story with dialogue. It's like a cheap trick but it works!

How did you find the actors?

I really lucked out. I had a friend who was a big, big help, who attended classes at my film school whose name is Carter, and I called him up and he had two friends: Ridge Canipe (who plays Viktor) and Masam Holden (who plays Laslo), the two leads and best friends in real life. The thing about casting is when you fall in love with somebody you know that's the right person to cast. That's when you need to put them in front of your camera. The rest of the characters are friends of friends.

Why does Laslo carry the camera? What do you feel that extra dimension adds to the video?

It was something I did a lot when I was their age. I would go around with basically the same kind of camera and film shit. I had the image of the closing scene from a third person perspective, like another source than the main camera. I think some directors implement media without a motivation other than it looking cool, and I’m inspired, but there should be something in the film that motivates that other camera. I think it’s a way to get really intimate in the film.

How did you get Ridge and Masam to run down the street naked?

They loved it! We had concerns about getting arrested, but the boys were like, "We'll do it anyway!"

What's your favorite scene?

The video is filled with many vignettes during the trip where you feel at one with the characters, but my favorite is the scene with Viktor sitting with the map and his eyes. There’s just something about his eyes there, trying to find her...

Did you have the ending planned out from the beginning? And if so, did Viktor have the ending planned out as well?

For me the decision point was between the first interview and the first instrumental part in the interview, because we see him with the bat in the beginning, and he’s questioning Laslo about this guy and asking where he lived and [you] slowly get the feel of what’s going on. I totally remember what that was like. I think Ridge totally nailed the feeling of your ex dating an older guy and not being able to live up to it and you’re not over her. I had no idea what was happening while I was writing the story—in this story I knew that there was a trip and I knew I wanted the main character to have an ulterior motive with the trip that he didn’t tell his friend, but I didn’t realize that was the ending until I got to the end.