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11th May 2012
Wild and woolly
Title of film: Maïa Vidal, Follow Me
Director: Joana Colomar
New director Joana Colomar's debut film: a stunning music video for Maïa Vidal, Follow Me

1.4 went to Barcelona to check out the city’s creative film making scene – do look out for our interviews with directing collective Canada and one of our favourite cinematographers, Marc Gomez del Moral, coming up very soon. We also met with Joana Colomar thinking she was a cool casting director who has worked for the likes of Canada and Daniel Wolfe’s San Miguel, but discovered instead a new director just back from her first shoot. We caught up with Joana again just as her music video was going to air.

This is a charming, intriguing story. Did you write it? Can you tell us please how the idea evolved?

Since the beginning I wanted to be faithful with Maïa’s universe, so animals and nature had to be in the story. But I was more interested in the dark side of her naive universe. She is very sweet, but Follow me is her song of La Femme Fatale, the lyrics talk about flirting and following the basic instincts. We really didn’t want to make a straight forward video: girl stares at boy, boy likes girl…So we decided to look into the fables that talk about tricking and charming, such as The wolf and the lambs, or Hammelin’s Flautist. I was, as well, very interested in the masks idea; how, particularly we women dress up and put make up on to seduce men. Maïa’s grandmother is Japanese, so I thought about the rice powder they use, it connected very well with the story about the wolf covering his legs with flour…

Was it a decent size budget?

No, it wasn’t. I applied for a Belgium Government subsidy and we got it. Also, we did a crowdfunding campaign. With the final amount of money we had, we worked hard to have all the material we needed and to pay, in a very symbolic way, the 25 people integrating the team. I’ve been working in the music video industry for a while and in a lot of cases it appears to be ok not to pay the crew. Low budgets are usually blamed, but I strongly believe in fighting against that: being young doesn’t mean being unprofessional and it shouldn’t imply not being paid. After this project and looking at the amazing job everyone in the team performed, I couldn’t do it any other way.

Tell us about the shoot. What were the biggest challenges of the production?

There were two main challenges: the budget and the animals. Everyone knows how hard shooting is if you don’t have the money to do it properly, but with hard work and imagination nothing is impossible. About the animals…I think Luis Buñuel said: the most difficult things you can shoot are children and animals (or something like that). And that’s quite right!

On the first shoot we did, the first day in the mountains, I had this image on my mind: myself writing on my comfortable sofa the following… “A hundred lambs will follow Maïa” and I put my hands on my head. But we were very lucky because the shepherd was a 26 year old man, very nice and collaborative person, he did a great job and without him it would have been a complete mess. I was born in the city, and so were most of the people in the team, we couldn’t have controlled that amount of lambs just by shouting…All the memories I have of that day are very funny.

Did you storyboard everything before hand. And was the final result as you originally planned it?

Yes, I did. I barely can draw, but I had the complete song storyboarded. Obviously, I had to change things on the shooting – the lambs don’t walk in the direction I imagined, the sun is beautiful on Maïa’s face now, this shoot doesn’t match with the next one on the edit… I knew we had to be very agile in the shooting and be open-minded in order to catch magical moments and so didn’t stick to the script all the time. But basically the video you see now is the video I was picturing in my head during the previous two months. (See Joana’s Timeline in Related Content).

Is this your first film?

This is my first film as a single director. Before that, I’ve co-directed other music videos with friends, mostly with Pablo Maestres and Biel Andrés (who was my faithful partner in this video).

We heard also that you are pretty damn good at casting too – and that you made magic happen with a crazy shoot for CANADA and Scissor Sisters?

Casting director was a total random thing that happened almost two years ago by chance. My colleague Blanca Esteller and I did the casting direction for Canada’s Scissors Sisters and it went really good. So I kept doing that until now. I think casting is a very interesting field. I find it very creative to look for the faces of a script, and also the work with actors is very interesting. A casting director doesn’t usually go to shootings, but I did, by assisting directors and being on set, I’ve absorbed different styles and got a deep learning of direction.

Can you give us a brief history to your background please?

I started my media studies in Valencia, my hometown. Then I moved to Lisbon where I deep dived on cinema techniques and fell in love with the city. I finished my studies in Barcelona where I’ve settled now for three years. I have all my life been passionate about music, so it is in the direction of music videos that I found a way to combine my formation as a film-maker, with my love of music.

Are you signed to a production company yet? Or are you going to remain happily independent?

At this point I haven’t really thought about it as directing has been kind of random really. Like I didn’t sign in for it but I feel super comfortable doing it. I’d say I’d be happy to but it would depend on the particular situation.

Where are you based at the moment?

I live between London, Barcelona and Lisbon. I have good friends on the three cities and right now work is the major driver.

Maïa Vidal, Follow Me From the album "God Is My Bike" Director:  Joana Colomar Commissioner: Marc Hollander Production manager: Jorge Llama DoP: Marc Miró Production design: Pol Agustí and Andrea Batlló Assistant director and editor: Biel Andrés Hair and make up: Gina Ros Stylist: Olivia Montardit Production assistants: Alba Martínez, Ibon Zulueta, Blanca Ballesté Steadycam: Niko Lasarte Camera operator: Marc Miró, Alex Tregón Focus puller: Gema Briones Second camera assistant: Manu Ruiz Video assistant: Clara Civit Gaffer: Dani Fernández Electricians: Pablo Aybar, Ivan Romero, Juli Carné Set assistants: Anna Colomer, Victoria de Olano Editor assistant, Ibon Zulueta Shepherd: Mar August Muntanya