Martin your video for TOM And His Computer’s track Future Ruins… seems very apposite for the current times – a man living in self-isolation desperately wants to revive his lost love. Or have we got it completely wrong? I’m also assuming that the isolation theme was a coincidence, but please do give us your low-down of the narrative.
I like to create stories with a timeless feeling which can be understood in different ways, depending on who you are and where you are in your life. Future Ruins, to me, is on one level the story about two souls. About a relationship and how hard, and important, it is to keep relationships alive. On a higher level, the story to me also can be experienced with a great environmental message and is about Mankind and Mother Earth. About our struggle to keep this beautiful planet alive.
We shot the video long before the whole Covid-19 situation, but I totally agree that the story can be interpreted to be about isolation and the state-of-mind we all are in right now. That’s the beauty of working with art, because it can be perceived in so many ways. And I can promise you, that if you watch Future Ruins in seven years from now, it will have a completely new meaning to you again…
What was the initial brief and did you collaborate closely with the artist throughout the production?
I have worked with the artist Thomas Bertelsen before, who is the guy behind TOM And His Computer, where we did the video for his hit track Organ. Thomas and I share the same kind of taste in many ways and have a lot of common references and he gave me a lot of freedom to interpret the track. The lyrics and vocals are by the singer Roxy Jules and when I heard the track the first time, I completely felt in love. Listening more to it, I saw these images of things falling apart and started from there to develop the story. I presented it to Thomas and he fortunately loved it.
Did you map out the sequences in perfect fusion with the track in pre-production or did it come together with cut scenes in the edit?
On this project I wrote the script, scene by scene, extremely close to the music and its dramatic development. All shots are carefully choreographed and shot to each sound in the music, almost second by second.
Did you visualise the beautiful tones and palette that you used from the beginning or did you have some other ideas how it should look and feel?
I had a strong feeling from the very beginning that the video should be shot in a house in the middle of the deep woods of Canada. But the budget of course couldn’t afford that, on a project like this, as we’re based in Copenhagen. So it took a lot of work to find that perfect spot to shoot here in Denmark, which had the exact atmosphere that I wanted to obtain. It was my producer Rikke Katborg who came up with the location, as she had been visiting the place north from Copenhagen as a child. She took me there and immediately as we stepped out of the car I actually felt I was in “Canada” and totally loved the place. Together with my DP Mattias Troelstrup we developed the visual style, colors and mood. One of our visual references was Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist which inspired us a lot.
What were the main challenges of the production?
Cleaning! Creating a lawn with grass and insects inside a living room is a bit of a mess. And when you on top of that also have a woman growing out of tons of dirt, the place gets a bit dirty at the end of the day. But we managed to cover our tracks. Only problem was, that one of the snails got away. He is probably sneaking around inside that house right now, wondering when we will be back, but also enjoying his freedom and the soft couch.
How are you spending your days WFH and is there anything in particular that you’re finding inspiring to watch, read, listen to?
I was lucky to just have ended the shoot of a youth tv-drama series, which I have written and directed, when the lockdown hit Denmark. So we are now in post-production, working remote, which is working smoothly and without any major challenges.
Right now I’m re-discovering a lot of classic movies, as I have a concept called ‘movie of the day’ where I present my 14 year old son Tristan for must-see movies. Big Fish. Amalié. Eternal Sunshine. Her. Grand Budapest Hotel. Into The Wild. Etc. etc. Talking about these movies with my son gives them new value, interesting analyzes and surprising never-thought-of story angles, which to me is very inspiring.
Within literature I’m also in a mood where it is not about finding something new all the time, but more about re-reading great work with a new point of view. It matches the isolation well, to rediscover the bookshelf. Nick Cave’s Sick Back poems and Mazzucchelli’ graphic novel Asterios Polyp are examples of stuff I have read many times before, but now read again with big pleasure these days.
What have you discovered about yourself during lockdown?
Before the lockdown I got up at 6am to work. Then walked the dog, worked some more, and spent time with my lovely family before walking the dog again and then go to bed. Under lock-down I get up at 6am to work. Then walk the dog, work some more, spent time with my lovely family and walk the dog again before I go to bed. I miss seeing more friends, but besides that everything is the same. I love it.
TOM And His Computer, Future Ruins
Production Company: Circus Alphaville
Writer and Director: Martin Garde Abildgaard
Producer: Rikke Katborg
Executive Producer: Morten Hoffmann Larsen
DOP: Mattias Troelstrup DFF
Editor: Peter Brandt
Wardrobe: Pernille Holm
Production Designer: Emilie Vigh
Colourist: Lasse Marcussen
Man: Cyron Melville
Woman: Sonia Suhl