Exclusive Interview | Behind The Killers’ New Music Video Directed By Spike Lee

Photo: Anton Corbijn

The Killers dropped a new politically-charged single “Land of the Free” along with a powerful short film/music video directed by Spike Lee.

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We chatted with “Land of the Free” editor Randy Wilkins to shed light on this surprising collaboration between the normally apolitical Las Vegas rockers and the always outspoken New York director.

Mandatory: How did you get involved with “Land of the Free?

Randy Wilkins: I was cutting a commercial for Spike around the time he received a phone call from Brandon Flowers about the video. Once Spike decided to direct it, he asked me if I was interested in cutting and I immediately told him yes.

How did Spike get all that amazing on-the-ground footage? 

Spike sent a film crew to Tijuana for five days to follow the migrants in the camp. The crew, led by DP Felipe Vara De Rey, did an incredible job of capturing the energy, spirit, routine, and humanity of the migrants. We also licensed footage from a filmmaker who was following the migrants from Central America. We left a lot of great footage on the cutting room floor, but we love what we ended up using.

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There’s a lot going on in terms of images and lyrics. What was your approach in seamlessly putting them together so you didn’t get lost in one or the other? 

We had a very clear structure after reviewing the footage. I had a strong idea of what would resonate once that was established. Then it was finding the best pieces to demonstrate that structure while also being aware of strong emotional beats that would connect with the audience. The driving forces were a sound structure and mining emotional moments. That allows everything to fall into place.

Randy Wilkins. Photo: Anthony Geathers

What was the biggest challenge that you and Spike had to overcome? 

Creatively, I truly didn’t feel any challenges. It felt like a spirit took over me that gave me clarity on the task at hand. This whole story has impacted me in a significant way and this was my opportunity to give my perspective on it with humanity, dignity, and respect. I was driven by that way more than any technical or creative impulse. I’m disgusted with how these brave people are being portrayed by many in our government and I wanted to refute that.

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What did Spike think of the song? 

Spike loved the song. He played it on repeat for two straight days. We listened to it on a loop while we screened the dailies. He was really impacted by it.

Wilkins is a talented filmmaker himself. Check out the three-time Emmy Award-winning director, cinematographer, and editor’s website and follow him on Twitter @pamsson for his hot takes on filmmaking and his beloved Yankees.