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3rd October 2013
Dark dark days
Title of film: Machinedrum, Gunshotta
Director: Institute For Eyes
Production Company: Somesuch & Co
Somesuch directing duo Institute For Eyes create a modern day Lord of the Flies for Machinedrum

It’s a very dark and disturbing story. Please tell us how the narrative came about and evolved. Is the portrayal of gang ritual based on truth?

Luke: Joseph (other half of IFE) was away travelling moving through a series of small strange islands which sparked the idea. He explained to me a basic concept; exploring the themes within ‘Lord of the Flies’, but transposing them to a modern setting. Those central themes; the breaking down of society, the struggle for power, although classic dramatic ideas seemed more relevant today than ever.

The rituals were based on ancient African rituals but also mixed with modern initiation ceremonies. Those modern ceremonies that often occur when a group of imperious young men start to challenge each other.

Did you work closely with Machinedrum – what was behind his meaning of the mournful Gunshotta track when he produced it?

The song Gunshotta represented a certain place within a world called Vapor City. This fictional city is the concept of the album, each song represents a different district. Travis – the man behind Machinedrum – explained Gunshotta Avenue isn’t the sweetest part of the city… It’s a dark place, the sense of dread and violence grows on every corner.

But he also wanted the video to have a dreamlike quality. That idea really excited us, that freedom not to be tied to a definitive structure.

So those thoughts blurred into our idea, we started to draw similar influences to create the loose narrative – John Carpenter’s films and 1980s New York street photography.

Where did you find the cast?

Boxing clubs, parks, they were all street cast. One of the lead guys recently moved over from France, after a quick meeting we decided to cast him as the leader, he had a beautiful charisma on camera. My favourite moment was when I had to help him write a flirty text to some random girl in the middle of the shoot.

The casting director; Kharmel Cochrane and Martha Stewart, found Eric in a skatepark (the kid in the cap at the end with the flower). Even though his on-screen character is more vulnerable we liked the idea that he was one of the last surviving characters.

Please tell us about the production – did you pre-prep everything in detail with storyboards and rehearsals? Where was it shot? What were the main challenges?

We shot in one location in Hackney Wick, London. There weren’t any storyboards, we worked with David Procter (our regular and favourite cinematographer) and Ben Lack and Sam Waters (art directors) to try to realise that world. We sent them lots of visual references; Dan Holdsworth photography, the documentary Dark Days, and then had long discussions about how to explore these ideas more uniquely.

There was a loose script but a lot of the action was ad-libbed on set. We cast small groups of friends so once on set they all bonded together really well. Once we explained the basic idea of each scene they created their own interpretations which formed a lot of the scenes.

The post work was a nuance that transposed the video out of the ‘realism’ world and into the magical realism and post apocalyptic realm. We are now hoping to make Waterworld 2 – that’s a joke, maybe…


Machinedrum, Gunshotta

Director: Institute for Eyes

Production company: Somesuch & Co

Exec Producer: Tash Tan

Cinematographer: David Procter

Producers: Adam Fareley, Peter Arboine

Art Directors: Ben Lack, Sam Waters

Casting: Kharmel Cochrane

Stylist: Joseph Crone

Colourist: Matt Hare @ Glassworks

Edit: Toby Conway Hughes , Marshall Street Editors

Label: Ninja Tune

Commissioner: Maddy Salvage