This week the world remembered and celebrated the work of David Bowie with artworks, documentaries, dedicated radio shows, playlists, parties and plenty more. Meanwhile at one minute past midnight on what would have been his 70th birthday, a video for his song No Plan – taken from Bowie’s musical Lazarus was posted online, credited to director Tom Hingston.
Tom had previously collaborated with Bowie on projects including a film for Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime). But for No Plan neither Tom nor Black Dog Films, which produced the video, published any information about the project out of respect for Bowie’s family, friends and fans. It was only four days later that It’s Nice That managed to speak to Tom about the themes and messages behind the film.
The song was described by Rolling Stone as “a magnificent coda… one last transmission from the Bowie universe,” and this film is fitting of that description. A subtle, sensitive visual accompaniment to the ballad, the video features TV screens in a shop window, showing images of Bowie and lyrics to the song.
“First and foremost, the film was intended as a gift to the fans, on what would have been David’s 70th birthday,” says Tom. “For this reason, I wanted to infuse the piece with a number of knowing references, that any discerning fan would recognise and understand. So, the name of the street, the name of the shop, multiple screens, the bluebird, the rocket, and in fact the electric blue of the monitors themselves.
“It was really important to me that we set out to make something much more emotive than just a lyric piece. The words of the song do play a central part, of course, but it’s as much about the surrounding situation and setting. There is a theme of disembodiment within the track and this sense of occupying another space, which is not of this time, indeed in places the song itself is out of time. So I wanted to create a situation which felt familiar, yet somehow out of place; a recognisable street setting, with its day-to-day rhythms and an otherworldly scene playing out within it.
“I also wanted to give a gentle nod back to the Lazarus stage show, which the track is taken from. I remember reading an interview a while back with the writer Enda Walsh, in which he talked about his early conversations with David around the show. They spoke about the notion of a stained glass window and how this could be used as a visual metaphor to tell a series of stories through one central image – I thought that was such a lovely point of reference. For me, the shop window and the screens form a device which allows the story to play out, yet viewed through a somewhat fractured lens.
“Above all, No Plan is a very beautiful song and I feel honoured to have had the opportunity to create something special for it.”
Bowie recorded No Plan during the sessions for ★, his final album. It was released on the Lazarus cast album and is now available on a No Plan EP, released on 8 January.