Fleet Foxes released a stunning new animated video for the song “Featherweight,” the 10th video directed by band frontman Robin Pecknold’s brother and longtime visual collaborator Sean Pecknold. Arriving on the one-year autumnal equinox anniversary of Fleet Foxes’ latest Anti- album, Shore, the video is set amid a world of struggle and hope, brought to life using stop-motion animation and a multiplane camera. The evocative and visually striking film chronicles a young hawk as he struggles to fly with a broken wing, the successes and bitter failures that come from his attempt and the second chances that life will sometimes offer — even when all seems lost.
Since 2008, Sean Pecknold has crafted the visual narrative behind Fleet Foxes’ songs, interpreting them for the screen in the form of music videos, short films and production design. While his chosen medium shifts dynamically between claymation, stop-frame animation and live action, his point of view remains singularly engaging. Employing analog filmmaking techniques, he creates stories that evoke universal emotions, whether his characters are lonely shapes, people, creatures or objects.
“Robin and I grew up together, watching a lot of the same movies and animations,” explained Sean Pecknold. “So, I think we are able to collaborate in a way that is very trusting and intuitive. We are connected on a similar wavelength.”
When concepting each music video, Sean is not only influenced both by the lyrics and the “visual shape” he imagines as he listens to the music. For “Featherweight,” he “was able to see the song in a new way” after listening to the multi-track stems from the original recording session. “Actually hearing the layers that went into the song was a nice exercise for me to think about the layers of the pictures.”
To bring “Featherweight” to life, Sean joined forces with noted animator Eileen Kholheep (Robot Chicken, Anomalisa). “Eileen has an incredible attention to detail and ended up bringing the characters to life in a way I could never have done by myself,” he says. He also worked with Toronto-based artist Sean Lewis, whose character designs and landscapes are fundamental to the world of the short film. “I discovered Sean’s work when he illustrated one of the first Fleet Foxes t-shirts in 2008,” he recalls. “We had a chance to team up in 2020 to create concept art for a feature-length animation I’ve been working on. The experience on that project was so wonderful that I wanted to take the collaboration to the next level with the ‘Featherweight’ animation.”