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26th August 2015
Breath of fresh air
Title of film: Sheep, Dog & Wolf, Breathe
Director: Thunderlips
Production Company: Candlelit Pictures
One of our favourite directing collectives from Auckland, Thunderlips, goes for the high dive with a tale about a one-sided romance between a lifeguard at a country club for teens and the patron he admires from afar…. And just as we pressed the publish button this new film from Thunderlips for Sheep, Dog & Wolf came flying in. Sit back, breeeeathe, and watch, it’s great

Stunning portraits perfectly cut to the pace of Sheep, Dog & Wolf’s track, Breathe. Was everything including the cast and situations meticulously planned out and you shot to order or did the film evolve as you filmed over time?

Our intention was always to gather scenes that would suit at least some part of the song – which isn’t too hard, cause it’s so dynamic… and just great. We didn’t plan out where the scenes would go and in what order, or if we did, we ended up changing all of it by the end.

Your last film for Sheep, Dog & Wolf went hilariously awry in the Australian desert when it rained for days – see the film of the film below. What was the most difficult part of this new production?

At first we planned a three-day shoot, and we got about 11 scenes. We sent the footage to our editor Gwen Norcliffe – in London – who pointed out the rather obvious fact that we didn’t have enough scenes. So we planned more scenes, shot them, sent them – and Gwen started cutting… but the song is almost six minutes long. So we got into this cycle of shooting batches of scenes and sending them across the world – six different shoots by the end, spread out over a year. The most difficult part was not giving up. It took courage each time we came to admit that we still didn’t have the video we had set out to make, and we needed to go out again and conceive/cast/shoot more scenes. We all think it was fucking worth it though.

How did the narrative idea for Lifeguard come about and what drove the plot?

The song tells a story of unrequited love that ends with a rebuffed Larz Randa saying, “You wanna leave? That’s okay.” The concept for the video started with a desire to betray those lyrics, to subvert them, to frame them as a lie by implying that Larz then kidnapped his love interest as part of a plot to make her fall in love with him.

I’m obsessed with people who do bad things for good reasons – I like the ethical ambiguity – maybe because it says something about the fundamental conflict in human nature – maybe it’s just a fun dramatic pickle – but maybe that pickle creates a rift through which can be glimpsed a hint of some perfect cosmic morality – maybe I’m full of shit.

Conceptually, I like to contort myself into a place of sympathy with a character whose behavior might, at a casual glance seem really evil – until I love the character, and can defend their behavior in an argument with my mother.

Lifeguard is a love story. The motive that drives the plot is love.

Are you guys ever going to come over here to Europe?

We’d like nothing more than to spend some time working in your part of the world, something to look forward to.

Credits

LarzRanda, Lifeguard

Producers – Anna Duckworth and Tammy Brenstrum
Exec. Producer – Alix Whittaker
1st AD – Sez Niederer
2nd AD – Laura Hutton
Directors Assistant – Connor Strati
Cinematographer – Eoin O’Liddigh
1st AC – Richard Elworthy
2nd AC – Will Proser
Gaffer – Grant McKinnon
LX Assists – Leigh Elford, Jai Jai Philavong, Sash Samaratunga, Lata Garabello
Grip – Nick Chester
Grip Assist – Russell Lloyd
Production Designer – Lyn Bergquist
Make Up Artist – Emma Bainbridge
Make Up Assist – Julie Clark
Costume Designer – Emily van Wichen
Post Production Supervisor – Mickey Finis
Color Grade – Alana Cotton at Images and Sound
Sound Design – Carl Smith at Images and Sound