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20th August 2018
Dalston – Jo’burg mash up
Title of film: Rudimental & Major Lazer, Let Me Live (feat. Anne-Marie & Mr Eazi)
Director: Chris Saunders
Production Company: Believe Media
The low-down from director Chris Saunders on creating a dance fest for Rudimental & Major Lazer's Let Me Live track

Rudimental’s local territory Dalston’s Ridley Road market easily morphs into the same vibe in your own home ground Johannesburg. What was behind the decision to use these locations?

From get go in the brief the band wanted to create an inter-continental festival vibe in the video that easily crossed between two places, one being their home London. When I found out that the guys in the band were from Dalston, it made so much sense to shoot in this incredible colourful and multi-cultural space. For me it is one of the most authentic and original spaces left in London, with a true sense for the real city that it is. It also blended super well with the colourful attire seen in the Johannesburg scenes.

For the Johannesburg location I wanted to stay away from the typical urban or township scenarios and bring the focus in more on the performances in a neutral space. The space we shot in was under the M2 highway underpass in Johannesburg’s CBD, this space also allowed us the opportunity to lock down the street for the entire day and shoot through the midday blaze without having issues with the harsh Johannesburg light over midday. It’s also a space that creates magical surrealism within the video, us not knowing exactly where we are and how we got there. 

In fact the performances are seamless from location to location – did you work everything out in detail with storyboards before the shoot?

Yes, we worked with two separate choreographers in Johannesburg. However we loosened up and allowed for new footage and shots to be created on the day. I always find it tough to follow the storyboard down to the line. I found the video flowed well thanks to the use of Steadycam and having one DOP who travelled with me on the project, Alex Jamin, who managed to create a visual language which allowed the easy flow between spaces. Our editor Paul O’Reilly also extensively matched up actions to the music and spaces between both London and Johannesburg to create the flow in post. 

There’s something fabulously natural about the choreography, these guys really know what they’re doing – did they choreograph their sequences themselves? What was your process for bringing this dance visual fest together with the track?

In this board I wanted to work with people I knew very well. For the Pantsula dancers, I had worked for several years documenting the culture and wanted to work with a cultural organisation who works with several of the top crews called Impilo Mapantsula, they assigned an incredible choreography team (Thomas Motsapi & Kgotsofalang Mavundla) and some of the best dancers in the city.

For the female GQOM dancers (a normally very masculine culture), I connected with a colleague who had just wrapped up a documentary project on the new music and dance scene in Durban South Africa and asked who he thought was the best in the very new culture and he recommended Welile Artchild Gumede who both performed and choreographed those elements of the video. 

Lastly our incredible Voguers, I had seen Lebo Otukile/ Fakamatah dance in other videos and around Johannesburg, he was always the best in the city and we later brought on Lebo Otukile dancer, Alonzo Strauss to work with him in the performance. 

I wanted to allow great choreographers from those specific cultures to choreograph themselves, I always find it very annoying when outsider choreographers who have no understanding of the cultures themselves plonk dancers from very rich and developed forms into other videos without consultation and treat the performers from these places like hired hands. More this made the process more authentic which shows in the performances on camera. 

The film is joyous, it’s going to being playing out all summer long – what were the worst nightmares of the production and how did you resolve them?

Strangely enough there where very few major obstacles and besides a load of hard work and planning which is always extremely nerdy consumptive we only had one major issue. That issue was, that the make up and hair team for one of the main artists had been booked on an earlier flight back the same day as the shoot but we had planned to shoot into the evening, we had to convince the label during the shoot itself that it was imperative that they stay onboard and get them new tickets, otherwise we would have lost that artist in the final scene. A small breakdown that was quickly resolved by the label and production and I feel fortunate nothing else went wrong! 

Was the edit mind boggling – or had you already sussed out how it would all cut together?

I thought I had it sussed out before heading into the room and our first run went according to the book, this however didn’t work at all and we ended up re-editing the entire video from scratch which is when we ended up with this version. Sometimes you just can’t plan these things, especially with a concept like this.  

Director - Chris Saunders Production company - Believe Media Executive Producer - Jannie McInnes (US) James Covill (UK) Producers - Shabana Mansuri (UK), Maurice Dingli (SA), Allison Swank (SA) DOP - Alexandre Jamin (Kinou) Editor - Paul O'Reilly (Homespun) Colorist - Arthur Paux VFX - Gloria FX Commissioner - Dan Curren (Asylum Records) London Production - Shabana Mansuri 1st AD - Mark Mcpadden Art Director - David Hamilton Steadicam - josh brooks Anne Marie: Stylist Phoebe- lettice Thompson MUA - Kim Neeta Hair - Emma Osborne Rudimental: Stylist - Bevan Agyeman Stylist - Laurie Haleigh MUA - Liz Taw Major - Lazer Stylist - Tati Cotlier Mr Eazi Stylist - Mariam Abass South African Production Ola Films Producer - Maurice Dingli Producer - Allison Swank Art Director - Tamzyn Botha aka. Tamzin Limb Costume Design - Nao Serati & Tamzyn Botha Steadicam - Jo Oosthuizen Make-up - Orli Merli (Lampost) Hair - Mimi Duma (Lampost)