Back story please. How did you meet each other and decide you wanted to make films together?
We met at film school in Melbourne. On the first day, Gavin stopped me in the doorway to tell me about a ghost experience he’d had the night before. And so we were friends. Our filmmaking styles were quite different but somehow complimentary, and we started to work together – usually designing each other’s films. We started The Apiary with the idea of making films whose inspiration came from image rather than text. We also had a strong feeling that we wanted to make films on and with artists from other disciplines.
Do you work out of a studio where you both rock up at 9am?
We have a lovely fourth floor studio [in Berlin] looking out over the rooftops of Kreuzberg and into Neukolln; it’s very rare and special in this city to see so far! The sunset is sweet, but it’s not so seldom that we see the sunrise, and it’s breathtaking. We’ve always tried as much as possible to keep work to the studio – this one’s full of glossy green plants and images cruelly ripped from art books, pinned to the wall. And a coal oven for heat, that we have to feed each morning between first coffees.
How does your partnership work within the creative process? Do you both work on ideas and narratives together and who does what on the production side? Or are you both working simultaneously on each stage?
The process is never the same, but we tend to work together from the beginning, sharing and building on ideas. We both write and storyboard and direct, and have strong ideas about what we make. On set we vary between being a kind of extension of one another, and dividing quite distinctly between actors or talent, and the technical camera and design side. It’s also great to have an anchor – we both can get really absorbed and passionate about a project, but somehow there always manages to be one remaining earthed and reasonable. The person who says: well, hey, perhaps in this instance the giant inflated rabbit stalking through the forest can’t be actually 15m tall. We alternate on that count.
Are there any differences of opinion and how do you iron these out?
Yes! It would be strange and boring if there weren’t. It’s special to have developed such a collaborative energy and it comes from working so much together, but it’s often that we have quite different ways of looking at an idea or brief or storyboard. This is great! It’s inspiring and invigorating.
Do you sketch out narratives into storyboards or develop your ideas into written scripts?
It depends on the project. Most of our work together comes from images, so we work from there. The script comes later.
In fact your latest video for Glass Animals looks as though it needed to be storyboarded meticulously, was this the case? How did the idea evolve?
Yes indeed. The Gooey video was quite a wild project – we had a really short turnaround so there was this electric feeling about it the whole time. We fell in love with the song, and we were immediately struck by the sweetness of the vocals and the lush sound, but it was mixed with this slight icky feeling – somehow there’s something a little perverse about the song. We thought the song deserved a video that was sensual, rich, beautiful – but with an undercurrent of slight ickiness. As are humans…
Please tell us about the narrative – it’s beautiful on a subliminal emotional level – and what was the metaphor for the magic potion?
Everyone has a story of exchanging fluids with someone both voluntarily and involuntarily – and sometimes this is done with love or through punishment and sometimes magic.
The first image that propelled the rest of the clip was perhaps the image of the ‘spit loogee’ — being pinned down by a brother or bully and facing the wrath of a single thread of spit dangling in your face. I think our proudest casting moment was finding a father and son wrestling team… but then realising we had to direct a 70 year old to suck a gob of spit in and out and then spit it in his sons face!
Dance, in particular ballet, features on your reel a lot. Where does this influence come from? Do you work with choreographers or directly with the dancers?
Yes… well our dance film work seems so far from our Gooey project – I love that we get to play on such a spectrum. We work with both classical and contemporary choreographers and dancers. Our dance passion began really in 2009 when we created some short films for The Australian Ballet. Our first foray into ballet was documenting two of the worlds most influential and diverse choreographers, Wayne McGregor and Alexi Ratmansky, who were creating new works with the company. It was a very enriching and timely project. This year is our 5th working with The Australian Ballet having created documentaries, installations and stage projections. The stories are endless inside the insular snow dome of a ballet company.
Is it your intention to work and film both out of Australia and Europe? Two completely different cultures, do you feel torn between them or is it a comfortable fit to be part of Antipodean and European cultures?
Its a pretty comfortable fit between the two worlds – they are really not that disparate. It also allows us to sometimes have the luxury of a double summer.
What are you currently working on?
Myriad projects – film work together as The Apiary and also solo projects. We also try to ensure we create work that exists outside of film.
Is there a greater plan to work in other formats or commercials?
At the beginning of this year we signed with Pulse Films. We are really excited about working with the Pulse team. At the moment we’re focusing on music videos and commercials – both of which present their own unique challenges and inspirations.
Directors: The Apiary / Lily Coates & Gavin Youngs
Cinematographer: Phillip Kaminiak
Focus Puller: Stephan Zwickirsch
Gaffer: Mario Krause
Grip: Sebastian Fremder
Electrics:Jonathan Beneteau, Yuri Salva
DIT & VFX: Antonio Afonso
1st AD: Daniel Atzorn
Art Director: Natascha Goldenberg
Stand-by Props: Pascal Flamme
Costume: Arash Arfrazadeh
Hair & Make-Up: Francesca Maffi / N Management
Hair & Make-Up Assistant: Samantha Crosthwaite
Unit Manager: Natascha Stellmach
Runner: Emily Scheerer