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14th November 2014
Lines of flight
Title of film: Ascension
Director: Geremy & Georgie
1.4 CATCHES UP WITH LEGS DIRECTing duo GEREMY & GEORGIE ABOUT THEIR LIFE-WORK PARTNERSHIP AND CREATING A STUNNING 'CARAVAGGIO PAINTING MEETS BILL VIOLA' INSTALLATION FOR GARETH PUGH

We do try to play down the use of adjectives but this film for Gareth Pugh is truly breathtaking. Mesmerising. What was the original brief from the designer? Did you both initially respond to the brief in unison?

G&G: Thanks so much. The original brief, conceived by Gareth Pugh and creative directed by LEGS’ director Andrew Huang, had three films that function as acts in a giant film-based installation – Megalith, Chaos, and Ascension (See in Related Content). The idea for Ascension was envisioned as a Caravaggio painting meets Bill Viola with the heroine rising / being reborn like a Phoenix.

Were there other ideas that you shelved or was everyone onboard from the beginning for this slo-mo Phoenix-like reveal?

The film went through quite a few conceptual incarnations before this one. In one version we wanted to use practical flames and actually turn up the temperature in the space and pump the scent of human sweat. We were hoping to have heat and sound built into the room to match the intensity of the flames so that by the end of the the ascent, the audience’s senses would be overloaded from every angle with heat, sound and light. We wanted it to be totally overwhelming, an emotional religious experience…. You do what you can.

What platform did you create the film for?

This film was created for Gareth’s SS215 Fashion presentation in conjunction with Lexus’ Annual Design Disrupted event. Lexus’ openness to push things forward gave us the necessary technical tools to really bring Gareth’s fashion presentation to life in ways it could not have been had it been relegated to the runway.

Techie talk please: We heard there were no tricks and it was shot in camera. How many fps did you shoot at and was it on a Phantom? How challenging was it working out the choreography with the timing?

This was indeed a meticulously planned one-shot deal, captured on the Phantom at the perfectly meditative but not yawn-inducing 700fps. The choreography (by the legendary Wayne McGregor) was relatively simple because most of the talent were dancers with incredible body control. The hard part was rigging the raw silk wing tendrils to fall symmetrically – this took about seven hours to figure out and involved a meticulous rig held up by a fishing-string pull chord. At the last moment, we realized the people pulling the strings had different arm lengths, which would have resulted in small but crucial time difference in the release of the tendrils, causing one side to fall before the other.

At the last moment with the dancers holding position and the model hanging in mid air, we scrambled to find someone on the crew with an equal arm length and called action. We were all holding our breath during the shot and then hooting and hollering during playback. The wings fell beautifully. It was a euphoric moment.

Legs has morphed from a creative film-making collective into a well-established multi-media production company. How do you balance your creative and entrepreneurial sides?

It is a constant challenge to balance true creative time with the never ending flow of meetings and new opportunities. Thankfully we work with great collaborators Adam Joseph, Tom Berendsen, and Mazdack Rassi who help us make both creative and entrepreneurial projects happen with grace and vision.

Could you please tell us about your usual collaborative creative process. Are you both totally in synch with each other’s ideas or is there sometimes a difference of opinion?

Well, we’re married and have a little boy together so we’re pretty in synch with just about everything. We treat every project like it’s a Mom & Pop family run operation. One washes, the other dries.

Honestly, on the creative front in the six years we’ve been partners we’ve never had a real disagreement over creative ideas. For being two rather different personalities (a Scorpio and a Gemini) we have very similar tastes in what we think works. We’re Siamese twins where one twin is a hammy introvert and the other is a sensitive extrovert.

Do you have different skill sets that compliment each other?

Definitely, but because we’ve lived and worked together for so long, we’ve rubbed off so much on each other that it’s smeared into its own unique thing that’s harder to pick apart.

A lot of your work involves intricate post and effects and technical nous – whether it’s for a music video, theatrical installation or interactive film. At what stage does the technical craft come into play or is it always part of the initial idea? What is the background to your understanding of VFX and its possibilities?

For us the concept is always first, then we try to think of the best, most modern and beautiful way to make it happen. Usually the technical craft organically comes up when researching and trouble shooting how to shoot something.

We actually try to not depend on VFX as much as possible. Instead, we try to use it as a secret weapon to make something that much better. For us, it is a question of connection – we always want the viewer to feel connected to the piece so if there are effects and technical tricks used they are used in a way to create a deeper effect rather than the effect being the tech.

You’ve won a 2014 Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab place. If you can, please tell us about your project. Is it a feature film? And if you can’t reveal… perhaps a one sentence summary and if that’s too much how about six key words?!

Geremy: Yeah, it’s a feature film I’ve written and will direct this coming summer. It’s called Patti Cake$ – a gritty yet surreal underdog musical about a heavyset white girl rapper from my home state of New Jersey. I also did the Sundance Directors Lab this past June which was the best creative experience of my life.

Who would be on your dream list to work with?

Action Bronson, Robin Quivers, Andre 3000, Tom Waits.

Credits

Directors: Geremy & Georgie 

Designer and Creative Director: Gareth Pugh

Creative Director: Andrew Thomas Huang

Executive Producer: Tom Berendsen

Producer: Jonathan Lia

Music by Apex Twin & The Prodigy