DVDs: The scene genie

Anton Corbijn reveals the secrets of two decades of making music videos for Joy Division and Depeche Mode. And not making one with Robert Plant

I initially came to music videos through photography. I was photographing the German band Palais Schaumburg and they suggested that I should also work on their videos. At first I approached music videos in the same way as I approached photography, but over the years I learnt a separate language. One of the things that was new to me was the idea of having to explain your concept beforehand to everyone involved. It helps to have an ongoing relationship with the artists. The best example of this for me was Depeche Mode. I had turned them down twice when they asked me to photograph them, before they asked me to make a video for them in America for 'A Question of Time'.

I agreed because I hadn't been to America before. They liked the video and I ended up working on all their visuals and we built up a trust between us. When I came up with the concept for 'Enjoy the Silence' with Dave Gahan dressed as a king, no one liked it, so they asked me to come up with another idea. But once I come up with a concept for a video I fi nd it hard to change, and in the end they let me go and make it, rather than turn to another director. Not that everyone trusts my judgment. Robert Plant once came to me for a video and my idea was he would climb a ladder in the studio and go through a door, where he would find lots of clouds and a dinosaur, and I wanted Robert to kick the dinosaur off the clouds. I think that was taking things too far for Robert.

The most unique experience was making the video to 'Atmosphere' because the singer, Ian Curtis, was already dead. I'm now working on Control, a film about Ian's life.

My ideas come from the sounds rather than the lyrics. Part of this is because my English was so poor when I started directing, but part of it is because I see a stronger connection between the visuals and sound rather than words.

Although I love film as a medium, musical videos became boring for me. There were too many people with rules in record companies, who cared more for commerce than the art of good videos.

· 'The Directors: Anton Corbijn' DVD is released on 12 September

The GuardianTramp

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