You have a strong creative relationship with Rudimental, can you tell us please about your collaborative process. It must be an ideal to work with a band who isn’t interested in appearing in their videos.
Yes I turn down a lot of material, probably about 90 percent of the tracks I’m offered. What’s been great about the Rudimental promos is they have been a blank canvas creatively. The guys at Asylum are amazing too – incredibly trusting of your vision. They really took a big punt on me with the first video and we have a great relationship now.
We know the cliché about working with animals and children but what about tigers?! How did the idea evolve to write this narrative featuring tigers.
I have always been fascinated with tigers. It started as an idea for a stills project – a shot of this gangster character in a slum somewhere walking with two tigers on leads. A bit like Pieter Hugo’s shots in Nigeria with hyenas. I then started writing tigers into various ideas. This video was based on a friend of mine’s idea to have a circus that gets hi-jacked by some gangsters and it was going to be shot in Rio.
I then developed the idea so that the gangsters steal their tiger and the strong-man of the circus goes into the favela to rescue the tiger from the gangsters. I was all set to shoot this idea for the last Rudimental track but at the last minute I got a bad feeling about the shoot and pulled out.
Then recently I was writing a treatment on a big commercial to shoot in Manila – my friend was out there at the time and told me about the Tiger Temple. I wrote an idea revolving around the temple with martial arts fighting etc. Then I didn’t get the commercial and I kind of blended the two ideas together for this.
Do you write your narratives with a clear idea where they are set – are the characters born out of worlds you already know – or do you write and then go location scouting? What was behind your decision to use this location and how did you find it?
I write the ideas with a good sense of the place then go searching for the perfect location. Much of the time it revolves around the talent and access we have so there’s a lot of adapting the script to the circumstances. In this case we found out just before we left that we couldn’t take the tigers out of the property where they are kept. My producer came up with the idea of changing the gangsters to poachers that run a zoo illegally. I didn’t like the idea at first but think it makes sense now and the zoo location was very cool.
The casting must have been difficult and interesting especially finding a martial arts expert who has a special relationship with tigers. How did you go about this?
I don’t want to give away too much to ruin the magic of the piece but suffice to say it was a very brave martial arts expert. Also the girl’s role was even more difficult to achieve.
What equipment are you using to get those fabulous pull-back aerial shots?
I use an octocopter to fly the camera which has two operators – one to fly the drone and the other operates the camera movement.
How does the creative process work between yourself and your DP. Is he involved with storyboarding the film or is his influence primarily felt on the shoot? Are there certain creative conversations you tend to have at the start of each project?
I generally visualise the entire video in my head, shot for shot. It doesn’t really deviate too much but quite often we need to improvise on set. Luke my DoP is fantastic at finding pick-ups and realising when we have missed something for the edit like a second angle for a cutaway. We have worked so much together now he has a really good feeling of the kind of compositions and camera movements I like. Luke started out working with 5D and other small camera equipment and comes up with amazing ideas of simple ways to do incredible things.
What were the main challenges of the shoot, how did you resolve them, and how long was it?
We prepared for the shoot for a week then shot for three days – one day at the Tiger Temple and 2 days at the zoo location. It was pretty intense. The biggest challenges without a doubt were the tigers. Firstly just getting access to them was hard enough – then getting the handlers to agree to what we wanted to do and then to get them to do those things were all incredibly difficult.
There were several times during the process when it looked like it wasn’t going to happen – we owe the success of this to E.D. (Pacific Basin) and her production team who were quite simply incredible in pulling this together. I don’t think anyone else could have done it especially with the time and budget restraints.
The second biggest challenge was shooting all the fight scenes in one day with no fight coordinator when most of the people had no acting or fighting experience and I had no experience directing fight scenes. There was also the continued challenge of getting believable performances from non actors with limited time. Was pretty tricky but I enjoyed every minute.
Choppers, tigers, exotic location… Was Right Here shot on a mega budget?
No we had an incredibly small budget when you consider what we did. I was just so lucky to have the team I had on this job. I think everyone just really believed in the project and all just pulled together despite the lack of money.
How do you develop your ideas into film – do you sketch or write, collect references, take photos? Do you keep an ideas notebook?
I guess I just have a very vivid imagination – everything is up there then I start to write it up. If I’m working on a promo I listen to the track dozens of times working out which parts of the story fit with which parts of the track. I have a very strong ethic where not only the idea must fit the track in tone perfectly but every sequence must fit the specific sequence of music perfectly. That’s why in both videos I broke the music because it was impossible both times to fit that story to that sequence of music.
What is your favourite part of the film making process?
There are so many but I’d say on the whole it’s the edit when you first see it all come together. The shoot itself is too stressful for it to be my favourite part although it’s usually a lot of fun too.
Do you have a particular favorite piece of work so far or one that you feel is particularly expressive of who you are / want to be as a filmmaker?
I’d say its still Not Giving In. This film is a lot of fun but I’m all about the message at the end of the day. My ultimate aim is to move people on a deeper level and try to really change the way people think about a certain subject.
Is there anything else you’re working on at the moment that we should be keeping an eye out for?
I just shot a documentary with reformed crack and heroin addicts called Moment of Clarity which should be out soon and I’m about to shoot a micro budget promo for an amazing new artist called Louis Matters. Later this year I’m shooting my first feature film and there are other feature projects in the pipeline for 2014 and beyond – can’t say much more about that stuff yet.
Rudimental, Right Here
DoP: Luke Jacobs
Producers: Campbell Beaton and Tiernan Hanby
Commissioner: Dan Curwin
Thai Production: Pacific Basin firstname.lastname@example.org
Line Producer: “E.D” Doungporn Soavapap
Production Manager: “Nong” Thamon Poompuang
1st A.D.: Sunny Indjic
Casting Director: Steve Fatuga
Pattaya Casting: Ricky Callum Kirk
Production Assistant: “Pui” Supakarn Yindee
Location Manager: “Keng’ Kritsana Pitichayoungkul
Camera Assistant: “Bright” Thanut Sripantawanusorn
Production Co-Ordinator: “Joe” Worawut Boonsarn
Make Up: “M” Supol Martjaroen
Wardrobe Stylist: “Luck” Lucksiri Sambhaothong
Octocopter: Gear Head
Production company: Rokkit
Exec Producer: Mary Calderwood
Editor: David Stevens @ The Assembly Rooms
Telecine: Matt Turner @ Absolute
Flame Artist: Phil Oldham
Sound Mix: Nick Davies
Offline producer: Polly Kemp
Online producer: Dan Bennet
Edit assistants: Edward Cooper and Niman Ali
Kung fu hero: Master Liu Gao Jie
Zoo Girl: Ratsuwan Pramuansab
Kung fu nemesis: Chavalit Chaonoi
Hijacker 1: Fufu 72
Hijacker 2: Rung
Zoo Boss: Jod Skinart
Henchman 1: Bee
Henchman 2: Spike
Henchman 3: Nattapong