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22nd July 2020
Taking stock
Title of film: Bronson, Keep Moving
Director: StyleWar
Production Company: Smuggler
As lockdown lifts and we contemplate a return to the daily grind, lunch al desko and a soul-sapping commute, this stunning new promo highlights just how alien and absurd the office environment has become. Breathing new life into stock footage with expert CGI, Smuggler directors StyleWar talk us through their chaotic take on corporate culture

 

Thanks to restrictions on shooting, lots of directors turned to stock footage during lockdown, but Keep Moving is one of the most inventive uses we’ve seen. You say you’ve always been fascinated by stock footage and the process of creating it – why does it hold such appeal for you? 

There are so many things we find fascinating with stock footage. More people than ever have access to high quality cameras and equipment which has really skyrocketed the amount of material being produced and therefore available for anyone to buy. Just think of anything and type in the search bar and you will most likely find it!

 

We imagine these stock shoots are very similar to a “normal” commercial shoot. Selecting your cast, picking your location, wardrobe and make-up etc. But there is no real product or client. The aim is to be as unspecific as possible to maximise the possibility of the shots being sold. All of the actors get their chance to play the boss, to bring the ‘GREAT’ news to the table, to be the one saying the smart comment, point at the screen, nod in approval. Great effort is put into NOT explaining exactly what they are working on, giving the most wonderfully banal results.

 

How much footage did you and editor Noah Herzog have to trawl through to source the material? Were you looking for specific moments or was it more a case of seeing what was out there and then building the narrative off that?

 

We at StyleWar and Noah spent insane amounts of time searching for material. Finding interesting shots, tracking down what else was shot during that specific day, tracing the photographer/company that created that footage to see what else they have done, trying to trace the specific actors to see what other shoots they have been in. There isn’t really an easy way to do this, so it has been endless scrolling through pages looking for hidden gems. And as we found interesting stuff, we started to explore what we wanted to happen in the scenes and built the narrative from that.

 

 

How closely did Bronson get involved in the creative process, or were you given carte blanche?

It was pretty carte blanche to be honest. Also as many of these scenes are so twisted it was kind of hard to discuss them or even know it would be good or bad or even work at all so we kind of just went for it to see what would stick.

 

Part of the process involved integrating the stock footage with CGI to create the chaotic ‘blackout’ phase, and there are some truly stunning visual effects, such as the sequence of miniature office workers pouring out of smartphone screens. It’s made all the more remarkable by how seamlessly the action integrates with the track. What were the biggest technical challenges you encountered in production and how did you tackle them?

There have been endless technical challenges creating this. For any VFX project it is great to have lighting references, clean plates, lens info, green screens etc and we had none of that. The biggest challenge of them all was the amount of work that we created for ourselves. Nico Knudsen here at Stylewar did ALL the post on this apart from the lip-sync and the grade that The Mill LA helped us with, so needless to say his computer has been running pretty hot these last six weeks…

 

 

Since lockdown and the advent of home working, it feels as though the cult of corporate office culture is finally being challenged – a glass-walled office and a 9-5 grind filled with PowerPoint presentations and team-building exercises is less aspirational now that our life priorities have changed. Was this shift something you intentionally sought to reference in the video?

It wasn’t really something we intentionally targeted but maybe we subconsciously did! Even before Covid, this type of corporate-office-work portrayed in the video felt dated and disconnected from reality. And now knowing that many companies will forever abandon their offices or downscale dramatically definitely adds some relevance to the video.

 

Keep Moving is yet another example of the hyper-technical, visually stunning work that you’ve become known for. Now you’ve rebooted corporate stock footage, what’s the next filmic trope you want to turn on its head?   

Good question! The upside to spending this much time researching stock footage is that it made us run into many highly confusing/interesting/weird things that have spurred some ideas. We need a bit of breather right now but we’re pretty sure that creative itch will be back soon…

 

Website: Smuggler 

 

Credits

Bronson, Keep Moving

 

Director and VFX: StyleWar

Executive Producer: Elizabeth Doonan

Editor: Noah Herzog

Online and Grade: The Mill LA

Production Company: SMUGGLER

Directors Rep: OB Management