Swedish director Philippe Tempelman talks about his first work, a music video for Radio Sweden, out of INDIO, Adam Berg's new production company based in Stockholm
It’s wonderful that Radio Sweden would invest in a three-minute music video / short film. What was the original brief and how did you evolve the storyline?
The film was made to commemorate the 90th anniversary of Radio Sweden. The brief came from Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Stockholm and the creatives Henrik Düfke and Felipe Montt (whom I worked with in the past when they were based at Mother in London). Their brief was simple, make a (sort of) music-video that features famous Swedish artists as they hear themselves on the radio for the first time, and illustrate the sensation it gives them in a dreamlike way. It was obviously a very exciting starting point and they gave me a lot of freedom to develop the concept.
I started with researching the history of Radio Sweden and discovered that the first ever broadcast was held in Saint James’ Church in central Stockholm in 1925. It featured a classical Wagner concert (à la mode at the time). So the idea to start the film with a concert in that very church sprung from that. But the song that the orchestra plays in our film is in fact a new rendition of a pop song called ‘Musik Non Stop’ (originally recorded by the band ‘Kent’, arguably Sweden’s biggest rock band). It’s a song everyone in Sweden knows and the title and lyrics sits very well with our film. The prominent composer Peter Nordahl has freely interpreted, arranged and conducted a classical version of the song and it became the films backbone.
It starts a journey that takes us from 1925 to 2015 (and the artists we meet on the way are all well-known Swedish artists) until we finally end up in the ‘Berwald Hall’, home of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra who performs the films score. The Berwald Hall was also where the film was first launched on the night of Radio Sweden’s anniversary gala.
What were the main challenges of the production and how did you resolve them?
Other than obvious and constant challenges like money, I would say the scheduling. It was a pain to try to set a time plan for the project since the film was based around well-known and busy artists. Each scenario in the film is written specifically for that artist, so if someone declined due to scheduling problems, I had to quickly write a new scene for another musician that we were in discussions with. On set we only had a couple of hours with some of the guys.
Another challenge was, oddly enough, to shoot and control the light on a moving subway car. We pestered the company that runs the subway traffic in Stockholm for weeks before we finally convinced them the day before the shoot.
How did you go about finding the cast?
The orchestra in the film is played by members of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the conductor is played by the films actual composer Peter Nordahl, the famous artist Cornelis Wreijsvijk is played by Hans Husby (a.k.a. Hank von Hell of ‘Turbonegro’, who played Cornelis in a Swedish feature film about his life), during the riots we catch glimpses of the band Tussilago in a cameo. Then we have Jason (aka Timbuktu), Pelle (of the Hives) and Zara Larsson playing them selves. The vocalist at the end of the film is Elias, a brand new talent who just released his first single. I liked the idea of bringing Elias in and let the film be a kind of decisive moment for him.
Basically everyone (except featured extras and extras) played them selves or at least characters that are close to who they are.
Are you based in Stockholm now? Who are you currently signed with? What other projects are you working on.
Stockholm is my home base. We just started a new production company (and to die for ‘nikkei’ restaurant) called INDIO
(owned by dp Mattias Montero and director Adam Berg). It’s a small but really cool roster of Swedish and international directors, including Joanna Nordahl, Karim Huu Do and Seb Edwards. It’s been a really interesting year.
Besides Radio Sweden, I just put the finishing touches on a live-action VR 360° project. Shot through INDIO and made together with DDB in Stockholm and STOPP. Until now, filming in 360° has been limited to the quality of small action cameras, but for this project it was crucial to give the film a more cinematic look. To achieve this, we created a specially made rig for the Red Dragon that gave us zero parallax and it worked like a charm. I’m excited to keep exploring VR projects.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Just that this was a truly collaborative effort. Pat Scola, our dp, did an amazing job. The art department kicked ass and and everyone from production to post companies really went the extra mile. Everyone involved was extremely dedicated to the project.