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Dawn Shadforth (born in 1973 in Essex, England) is a British music video and documentary director, as well as an editor and artist. Shadforth began her career as an award winning sculptor before turning her interest to music and directing. Shadforth is one of the foremost directors in her field and has directed and edited promotional music videos for artists such as Florence and the Machine, Kylie Minogue, Oasis, Goldfrapp, Sugababes and Garbage. She has received several awards including Best New Director at The Creative Design Awards, Best Special Effects for Garbage’s "Special" at the MTV Video Music Awards, Visionary Video at the VH1 Awards and the Icon Award at the UK Music Video Awards. An exhibition of her work has recently[when?] been featured at the Creative Futures show. Her work is well known for its tightly choreographed performances and for liberating the movement of dancers rather than containing it.
Shadforth at an early age was interested in art and music. Her mother encouraged her to follow her interests and she enrolled herself at Sheffield Hallam University and studied sculpture. She proved to be a natural at sculpting and won multiple prestigious awards including the Whitworth Young Contemporaries Award for her work entitled "Sweet Dreams", as well as a first place prize in Fine Art for her work in 1991. After graduating from college, Shadforth was unsure what to do and decided to further her education and was accepted into a video training course.
In 1995 Shadforth directed The Friends Tale, a 10 minute documentary for Channel 4's controversial "Battered Britain" series. She then followed the documentary up with The Seven Year Glitch, a short film documenting the "Warp Records Tour". The documentary was screened at the film festival "Onedotzero", as well at "Solar" in Barcelona, Spain.
In 1996 she was asked by a Mantronix band member to direct the music video for their underground hit "Hush" in New York. In 1997 Shadforth moved to London, England, to work full-time as a music video director. In London her work quickly received public and industry recognition. Her music video for the All Seeing I single "Beat Goes On" won for Best Dance Video at the 1998 Muzik Video Awards and for Best Editing at the 1999 Creative Design Awards. In June 1998 she signed to Black Dog/RSA Films, a music video production company based in England. Shadforth edits all her own work, which is rare in the music video business. "I've always done it, right from the word go," she explains. "I find it impossible to communicate to somebody--it's just something that doesn't go through your conscious thoughts and, because it's music, it's different from cutting a story. When I have an idea, it's motivated by editing." Shadforth feels that the use of an editor will limit her creative ideas and just complicates the directorial process.
In 2001 Shadforth made her directing breakthrough with the Kylie Minogue video, "Can't Get You Out Of My Head". The video features Minogue in a computer generated futuristic city, arriving in a space-age car, seductively and rhythmically shifting the gearstick as she drives, before eventually dancing in a clipped pulsating style in front of a group of male dancers all wearing bizarre red plastic headgear. The video is well known for its tight choreography as well as for featuring Minogue in a deceptively revealing white costume with a plunging neckline and wide open front. The video was quickly picked up by many music video channels and is credited with making the song a number one hit worldwide. The exposure from the video quickly made Shadforth a "must have" director, and the film has been widely mimicked and parodied.
She also directed the award-winning promo film for "The Importance of Being Idle", the acclaimed second single from 2005's comeback album by Oasis, Don't Believe the Truth. The film was a clever pastiche of 1960s black and white kitchen-sink drama films, featuring a parade of high-kicking undertakers, led by the Welsh actor Rhys Ifans. (The name of the undertaking firm featured in the video is 'Shadforth and Sons'). The band themselves praised the video, and it was said by critics at the time to be the best video Oasis had ever made. It went on to win the award for Best Video of 2005 at the NME Awards in early 2006, and the song itself went to Number 1.
Shadforth has dabbled into directing commercials but did not like the experience. She has said that she happier directing music videos because she loves music and is "motivated by music and that's the reason I'm a music video director as opposed to any other kind of director, for me it's an end in itself, something I'll hopefully do for years to come." She has over recent years been offered film scripts and has turned them down, but has not ruled out film directing for the future.
Selected director videography
- "Fun For Me - Moloko (1995)
- "Special" - Garbage (1998)
- "Beat Goes On" - All Seeing I (1998)
- "Rewind (Find a Way)" - Beverley Knight (1998)
- "King for a Day" - Jamiroquai (1999)
- "What'Cha Gonna Do" - Eternal (1999)
- "Sing It Back" - Moloko (1999)
- "Spinning Around" - Kylie Minogue (2000)
- "Bag It Up" - Geri Halliwell (2000)
- "Can't Get You Out of My Head" - Kylie Minogue (2001)
- "Living in a Magazine" - Zoot Woman (2001)
- "Miss Lucifer" - Primal Scream (2002)
- "In Your Eyes" - Kylie Minogue (2002)
- "Weak Become Heroes" - The Streets (2002)
- "Grey Day" - Zoot Woman (2003)
- "Train" - Goldfrapp (2003)
- "Kick It - Peaches (2004)
- "French Kisses" - Jentina (2004)
- "Chocolate" - Kylie Minogue (2004)
- "Who Is It" - Björk (2004)
- "Number 1" - Goldfrapp (2005)
- "The Importance of Being Idle" - Oasis (2005)
- "Ooh La La" - Goldfrapp (2005)
- "Jetstream" - New Order (2005)
- "Lights" - Scissor Sisters (2006)
- "2 Hearts" - Kylie Minogue (2007)
- "Drumming Song" - Florence + the Machine (2009)
- "Wonderful Life" - Hurts (2010)
- "Shake It Out" - Florence + The Machine (2011)
- "You're The One" - Charli XCX (2012)
- Infinity (Infinity Ink song) - Infinity Ink (2013)