• Mumbai Science, Deja Vu directed by Ehsan B

2014
Thursday 24th Apr

Grapes of wrath

Ehsan B talks about filming gun-and-run style in Dalston and creating are a beautiful beast with a few fundamental behavioural flaws

How did the style of the monster come about – a mix of beauty and beast. Did you have a mask with eye and nose holes made?!!

Exactly. The costume was of course based on the personality we were trying to create, someone who had good intentions and refused to believe he was a hideous monster even though his actions disproved him.  

I wanted to create a  sort of ‘deformation’ that could be seen as beautiful if someone paid enough attention, so the first thoughts were a regular dude (in the style of the boom box guy from Daft Punk’s Da Funk) with exotic flowers hanging out of the front of a hoodie.

I teamed up with Jess Dance and we basically just mixed and matched lots of different foliage options that didn’t feel too obvious – considering how real they looked and moved, how well they covered the face and of course how we’d make them stay on someone’s head! We were in this fancy florists in Kensington when one of us spotted some fake grapes – which was somehow the ridiculous finishing touch we were looking for! 

Jess made this strange contraption (which I’ve obviously saved for next Halloween) where she attached the foliage to a modified cap and arranged them to dangle down in front of Graham’s face.  On our ridiculously tight budget, our concern was to simply have enough foliage to keep Graham’s face hidden whether he could see or not – artificial grapes are mad pricey!

What was the original brief? And how did you evolve the narrative? Did you work closed with the band?

There wasn’t really a brief as such, I’d pitched on another video for the label which never ended up seeing the light of day… so they asked me if I had any ideas for another track. It started off as a Skype call where I ran them through a few starting points centered around the idea of ‘having little self-control’.

This was such a fantastic collaborative way to work as opposed to spending days developing a treatment which you know countless other directors are pitching on. I sent them over this awesome nut-job personal trainer reference, but they almost wanted something that would be a little more punk and risky, so for some reason I suggested a violent, intoxicated swamp-thing… and they just went with it…? It was pretty funny how we kept referring to the white-stuff as ‘magic-powder’, I did start to wonder whether they knew I was talking about class A drugs or not.

The location looks like Daltson’s Ridley Road, how was it shooting there with the stall holders and crowds?

We couldn’t afford permits, so the whole thing was run and gun. We had a small crew so we’d inconspicuously block out a scene, pop around the corner and wait for a suitable time to go for a take. We didn’t really end up getting into much trouble really, it was exactly the mundane setting we were looking for where people would only ‘half-react’, so we wanted to capture the odd reaction but not turn it into ‘Jackass’. Although there was one lady who decided to give herself leading role during the fight scene – she didn’t make the cut unfortunately.

What were the main challenges of the shoot and how did you resolve them?

We shot back in February, and not only was it freezing cold but the rain was especially relentless that day. We were on a shoestring budget so we were pretty much outside on our feet the whole day – the hidden-camera nature of the shoot was tricky as it was…but… with icing sugar turning to goop, storyboards dissolving, kit getting drenched, people getting wetter with each take it just made everything that much harder!

As mentioned earlier we were short on how much foliage we could afford on the budget so Jess had to run around picking up all of the leaves falling from Graham’s costume to try to stick back onto him between scenes – resorting to string instead of glue in the rain! Apart from that Graham probably had the worst of it, there were takes where he literally could not see anything and was expected to walk round Kingsland Road pouring icing sugar down his neck, suffocated with a damaged head-rig strapped to him with our trouser belts, whilst I was screaming ‘okay now hump the floor…. NO HARDER’… Bless him!

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