Like your earlier film Mountains for French electronic band Thylacine you’ve chosen to set their latest video in Eastern Europe. What is it about this region that draws you to telling your stories?
Since Mountains, I kept working in Eastern Europe, specially in Ukraine, following a 15 year old kid for three years who finally became a soldier. This long-length documentary will be released this fall. During this shoot, I spent time with the military near the frontline. I wanted to express what had seen there and felt but in a more visual way. A collaboration with Thylacine was the perfect way to do it.
What first triggered the idea for Dance of War and how did the narrative evolve?
The initial idea of War Dance came from the idea of choreographing tanks. I’d seen a video a few years ago that was like a tanks ballet. To me it felt like the ultimate intent to make beauty with something that is not beautiful at all, weapons made of tons of metal.
Can you please tell us about the symbolism of the dancing tanks?
The tanks dancing is the symbol of humanity constantly at war. It is like an ancestral dance that we, humans, have practised for ages. A tank facing another in a deadly dance that causes terrible destruction. I wanted to juxtapose the fascination for these weapons of war with the devastating effects, in both a symbolic and realistic way.
Undoubtedly there were major challenges to making this film – or were the dancing tanks cgi and the hospital scenes studio set-ups? Please tell us about making the film, especially the tricky moments and how you resolved them.
No, everything in the video is real! There is no CGI! I love a challenging shoot. it wouldn’t be that exciting if we faked all of this. The tanks are real and driven by precision drivers. It’s very difficult to coordinate the moves and we only had two days for filming the tanks. Some moves that I had imagined were impossible to do or too long to have in the film.
The hospital is also a real military hospital in Kiev. We got permission to shoot there. All the people you see in the corridors are real patients and doctors. My idea was to set up this dance in a very realistic but also symbolic environment. It’s part also of my style to work around reality. I thought it would be interesting to have a very choreographed dance in such a lively and unprepared atmosphere. I like this contrast.
We filmed the documentary part that’s in the film in this hospital. We spent time with people wounded in the war. That was heartbreaking moments and difficult to film. But I think it was necessary for us and for the audience to see the reality of what happens in the war.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
What is very special about this project is that we created it in a very unique way with the artist. First, I wrote the idea and sent it to the artist. The artist loved the idea and composed a track. I loved the track and adapted my idea. We were in a collaborative process all the time. It’s really different to just write a script for a track as you normally do in the music video industry.
This was a really collaborative process. The result is that our two universes, visual and musical, totally matched as they came together. I’d really love to work more this way with artists. I still have a lot of ideas I want to give life to!
Thylacine, War Dance
Director Cyprien Clément-Delmas
Production Companies Caviar & Garage Films
Exec Prod (Caviar) Daniella Manca
Exec Prod (Garage Films) Oriol Uria
Exec Prod (Garage Films) Luciano Firmo
Producer Javier Alejandro
Dop Igor Kosenko
Service Prod. Company Esse House Productions
Ukraine Producer Anna Zobnina
Editor (Paris) Edouard Mailaender
Post House Metropolitana
Colourist Marc Matons
Commissioner/Management Clarisse Arnou
Directed by Cyprien Clément-Delmas https://www.clement-delmas.fr
Produced by Caviar Content & Intuitive Records
Executive producer: Céline Roubaud
Director of Photography: Dani Fernandez Abelló
Editor: Carlos Font Clos
Post production and color: La Metropolitana
Colorist: Marc Morató
Local Production Manager: Kiril Krastev
Camera assistant: Nikolay Pavlov
Production assistant: Charlène Richardeau