Was it the lyrics? Was it an idea out of the blue? What was the moment when the idea of the young drummer running in and out of the scenes?
The idea was totally inspired from the song, with the lyrics yes, but also the special mix of house music with gospel and the amazing energy and rhythm it had. From a first listen I knew I wanted to create something with a gospel choir and a young drummer; visualising a lot of movements, drumming the beats and also having a gospel singer singing the lyrics felt like something really fun and satisfying to do. Additionally, I wanted to have a simple but energetic story that could build up and as I got to know the track more, it was apparent there was five different sections musically and so the idea of having a groundhog day narrative of a drummer running late again and again just came about.
How did you map out the pace of the runner to the beat of the song? Was that thought through in pre-production or did it come together in the edit?
Yes that was 100% planned. We knew we needed to be on top of syncing points and make sure that the movements, drumming and singing hit certain narrative points but also the music’s beats and sections. So the amazing Charlie Von Rotberg and I edited an animatic with videos from the recce of our camera moves so that our shots and actions would be on rhythm and also the correct length. We also cut digi-slates so that on the shoot days, I was able to cue the drummer and the singers on the right moments in each of the different repetitions. We also played the music every time there was running so that Jeryhuda could respond to the track’s beats.
It’s such a gospel house uplifter – what was your process for selecting the cast?
We initially got in touch with casting agencies around Sheffield and London but as we had to shoot on the first weekend of January they weren’t many agencies opened during Christmas! At the same time, I was spending a fair few weekends in Sheffield at the Cemetery Road Baptist Church, in where we shot, and I got to know, meet and talk to the amazing community there. There was a very strong and welcoming support to help me cast from the community and so this young 12 years old drummer, Jeryhuda, and his dad Rev Daniel got in touch and that’s how we cast our drummer and reverend.
From there, Jeryhuda got his mates Kojo, Henry and Marcus to be play football in the video and Rev. Daniel helped us find our pianist Anthony. The CRBC’s Congolese church was also up for volunteering in the video as our final congregation. And for the choir, we got in touch directly to Janine Dyer and her Sheffield Community Choir and they were up for it straight away. So the casting was all non-actors at the end, and they all came from Sheffield and the CRBC’s communities. It was pretty unique and very heart-warming to be able to feature a real father and son duo too.
Any headaches during the production? Or was it all plain sailing?
The shoot was so much fun! The crew and cast were all exceptional and on point. It was great but it was also very intense and challenging don’t get me wrong haha! There were a lot of outfit changes, repeating camera movements, different variations in performance to plan and remember, continuity errors, shots forgotten, chasing the daylight, getting a whole congregation to dance and celebrate, getting the singing, drumming and movement in sync… but it was all good fun, we enjoyed every minute of it and I think that’s what counts the most in the end.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Sheffield is great to film in. People and city council are very welcoming and accommodating, there’s also a great cinematic feel and beauty in this northern town.