Andre Chocron where have you been hiding? What experience and training led you to where you are now? What was your childhood like?
I was hiding in film school for five years. After I finished two years ago I was a bit fed up with making linear, plot-driven dramas. This led me to making my animated housing block light dance film, that turned into a music video for Cold Mailman’s “Time is of the Essence” by accident (https://vimeo.com/24306741). Since then I’ve basically been working with music videos in Norway, a format that has enabled me to play around with visual, conceptual ideas, all the stuff I wasn’t allowed to do in film school.
I had a wonderful childhood! I grew up thinking I was going to become a musician like my father, but suddenly realized I was grown up and didn’t know how to play any instruments. When I started making music videos I began thinking of that as my instrument, so I could somehow work with music after all.
My Recurring Dream uses so many techniques and set-ups. How did the narrative come about – are elements based on true life? And how did the script evolve – did you work closely with the band or were you given considerable creative freedom?
The narrative is just free imagination, visual ideas I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and stuff I came up with while listening to the song. Matching the energy and the beat of the song is something I’m very concerned with in general, and especially on this one.
I pitched the idea after hearing a demo of the song two years ago, and since then the band has given me all the creative freedom I could ask. However the video wasn’t financed by the band, but by funds our production company was able to get from the Norwegian Film Fund.
Did you plan every scene in detail with storyboards? How did you work everything out technically?
In order to get the funds, we had to work out a very thorough presentation of the project – including a detailed storyboard explaining each scene visually and technically. We did a lot of planning and testing on location before each scene to work out the right way to shoot it.
Was it shot on location or was there quite a lot of green screen?
Everything was shot on location! I’m not very fond of green screens, at least not when it’s just an easy way out.
Did you get everything you wanted on the shoot – did everything match up as intended in the edit?
Yes, more or less. We initially planned to do all the transitions “in camera”, in other words have the actual picture in the scene, and make only small adjustment to the transitions in post-production. This would have required that we shoot the last scene first, print out the first frame of the scene, put it into the second to last scene, shoot that scene, print out the first frame, etc, until we shot the first scene last. However this wasn’t possible production-wise, and we ended up compositing in about half the transitions in post-production. Also we had to timewarp some of the scenes to match the musical cues we missed.
There must have been quite a few challenges shooting Recurring Dream – what were the major ones and how did you resolve them?
All the scenes required quite a lot of planning when it came to tracking the camera, since the scenes were shot in different frame rates and we wanted the result to be a seamless journey through the different scenes with a constant speed. The biggest challenge was shooting the underwater scene; we talked to several grips on how to solve the tracking, and were told the only solution was to build a huge track construction above the entire pool with a dolly underneath it, and this still wouldn’t give us the speed we required. In the end my DoP came up with a simple and cheap solution that worked perfectly: gripping the camera underneath a kayak and pulling it through the pool with a rope.
If Only As A Ghost is completely different in that you have only one strong element / idea beautifully executed as opposed to the busy pace of Recurring Dream. Was this a reaction to the earlier video?
If Only As A Ghost has such strong lyrics, and is so simple and beautiful musically. We didn’t want the video to compete with the story Jonas is telling, and decided on this very simple visual solution.
The production went quite smoothly, even though we didn’t have time to do any tests. The only problem we encountered was that it turned out Jonas had really narrow ear canals and was in extreme pain every time his head was a couple of meters under water. Each take took 30 seconds, and after nine takes it was so painful for Jonas we had to wrap it.
I really like the upbeat I Spy. I defy anyone to watch it and not smile. Was this shot on a limited budget – in fact have the budgets been getting bigger as you progress? Only ask because it’s such a good simple solution – one set to trash, one dancer to track. What was it shot on?
Yes, I Spy was shot on a very limited budget. It was such a fun experience! We met with Mikhael on a Friday and decided on an idea, then we shot it on the following Tuesday, and had it finished by Friday. One week from conception to completion, a great way to make videos sometimes! However the budgets seem to get smaller, even for commercial artists. We’re constantly trying to figure out new ways to fund the videos, but that takes time, and artists rarely have more than a few weeks before they want their video out.
You’ve been focusing on music videos. Would you like to shoot commercials too? What’s the plan?
Music videos is a lot of fun, and I’ll keep making them as long as they let me play around with ideas and concepts. I recently signed with Legs in the New York and Friend in London, and hope that will bring in some new opportunities outside of Norway. However I’m very interested in getting into commercials as well, hopefully bringing with me some of the visual aesthetics and concepts from my music videos.