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7th July 2016
Float like a butterfly
Title of film: Casi, Lion
Director: Maisie Cousins
Production Company: B-Reel Films
Maisie Cousins’ photographs are stunning portraits of flesh smothered with flowers and insects; bodies smeared with syrup and make-up. Now through B-Reel Films the young artist has brought her visceral take on nature to her first music video for new recording artist Casi

You’ve become known for your lush photographic stills and now you have evolved your visual style into a music video. How did this film come about?

I was fortunate to have an interview on Creative Review, which Margo at B-Reel Films picked up on. In the interview I mentioned I was ready for more video-based work so the timing was perfect!


What was the focus of your original conversations with Casi concerning the video?

Casi is like a cute Welsh fairy tale character so I knew it would have to involve a forest and nature but with a darker colour palette than I’m used to. She also wanted an element of feeling trapped so we talked a lot about what it could be, in the end I loved the idea of the nature just eating her all up.


For a first film, did you find the crew supportive?

Incredibly, I learned so much. It was such a girl power team with on the camera and a full female set design crew.


What were the key lessons you learnt on the shoot and production?

At first I was shy and was saying ‘Please stop!” instead of “CUT” so I learned to grow some balls that day. I also learnt so much about post production and how the colours are really muted when you take them straight from the camera.


Do tell us about the menagerie of insects, snails and bugs and where you got them from…

We got all the bugs from a breeder who also knew everything about these bugs and treated them like they were his best friends, that was one of the highlights of the shoot, seeing the huge African snail up close. Very cute.


Where does your love for big beautiful saturated colours come from?

I like capturing very real things but with unrealistic colours, I like that people can relate to my images but it’s still got a distance from the viewer, something that they don’t understand.


Do you dream in bright technicolour?

If I’ve been drinking my dreams are amazing, like feature length movies. But mostly speaking I have anxiety dreams where I will be making a cup of tea 100 times and keep messing it up. Tragic!!


What would be your dream directing job?

I’d love to work on a short film, but treat it like a project that I can keep going back to and create a series. I’d like to approach it in a really organic way and are sure everyone on the team really loves the idea.


Are you always experimenting with techniques – do you, for instance, have an exhaustive knowledge of Photoshop?

Yeah I’m a nerd I love being on my computer, I always find the physical experimenting more fun however, like playing with materials and different lenses and lighting set ups. I rarely use Photoshop on my pictures anymore.


We all need role models to trigger inspiration – who would you say has been a great influence on the way you think / create and why?

When I was younger I remember I would watch animations on Channel 4 with my parents. I think it was a weekly thing but a lot of them have stuck with me ever since, particularly The Black Dog by Alison De Vere. I can’t even explain why but there’s something about the scene where the character hears disco music from afar, it really gets me every time.

I think the artist that made everything click for me is Pipilotti Rist. I love her attitude and her energy. It was when I saw her show “Eyeball Massage’ at the Hayward Gallery that I really thought yes! art is for me. Before I always thought the art world was boring and stale, she opened my eyes to making what you want and showing it in big places.


Apart from photography and now film making do you have any other forms of creative self-expression?

Painting! But I’m rubbish at it, it’s just nice to do.


List five inspirations that have connected with you recently – these can be films, music videos, books, architecture, people, anything you like!

 – Perfume by Patrick Süskind

– The film Z and Two Noughts by Peter Greenaway

– Haruki Murakami novels

– Nobuyoshi Araki’s photographs

– The comedy show Smack the Pony



B-Reel Films

Maisie Cousins


Case, Lion  Director:  Maisie Cousins Concept: Maisie Cousins & Casi Producer:  Margo Mars, B-Reel Films