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10th March 2021
Light and dark shades of Lucrecia
Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, birthplace of Lucrecia Taormina, translates as ‘fair winds’ – an appropriate description of the talented photographer-director, whose bold, unapologetic approach is a real breath of fresh air in the world of music videos. Having stumbled into directing on a whim, she’s tackled such weighty themes as rampant consumerism and female empowerment, carving out a niche in dark narratives where body parts get traded for designer goodies and bloody revenge is meted out on useless boyfriends. Fresh from the release of a new promo for Steven Wilson, she talks to 1.4 about the importance of meticulous planning and why her subconscious always steers her to the dark side.

Lucrecia on set for Personal Shopper with steady cam op Doug Walshe 

 

You’re originally from Buenos Aires, a city that’s renowned for its creativity, and we heard you were a bit of a rebel child… What was it like growing up in BA and how do you think your background/heritage has shaped your approach and aesthetic?

Buenos Aires has always been at the forefront for creativity, especially in the commercial world. Ad agencies over there have been piling up Cannes Lions for years, so I was very lucky to grow up there. Buenos Aires taught me to embrace colour, architecture and nature but most importantly, that no matter how hard / uncertain things get, we porteños [Buenos Aires locals] always find a way to make it work and we do it with a whole lot of passion. It must be something in the air! Maybe that’s why the city is named after its good air?

As for growing up, I never really liked anyone telling me what to do (looking back now, I feel sorry for my parents).  My mum recently told me a story that I’d completely forgotten, which I think sums it up – when I was 16, I decided I didn’t want to go to school full time anymore. Even though I had all my friends there, I felt like my time there was done, I’d learned everything I could and I was ready for new things. But I still had to graduate, so I said I was happy to go to a different school for half days, so I could have the afternoon to do other things. Always beating my own drum, following my own rules.  You should have seen my mum’s face though…

 

You then moved to London to study photography – what inspired you to make the move and was that a creatively fulfilling decision?

I was visiting a friend from school who was doing a Masters here and fell completely in love with London. I really can’t put it in words, it just felt like home to me. My decision to come was not so much driven by my career – which I was yet to discover – but more about being in a city where anything was possible, and if I worked really, really hard at something I could create a life I could only have dreamed of. FYI, I just got my ‘indefinite leave to remain’ – so you guys are stuck with me!

 

Lucrecia nails it with Bree Runway and cast

 

How did you transition from stills photography into moving image? Was directing something you’d always wanted to do?

By accident, really. A friend of mine, Kim Jarrett, was a director’s rep at OB Management at the time, and she sent me a text on a Monday morning saying, ‘Hey, have you ever thought about directing?’ I hadn’t. I hadn’t even had the thought until then. The rest is history!

 

And how much does your photographic background inform your directing approach?

Loads. From framing, composition, styling and textures to colour combinations and saturation, everything comes from my photography background. You should see my grade decks, I screengrab the scenes and sketch them over it exactly like I do when I give retouching notes on my images.

 

Even though you’re relatively new to directing, you’ve already developed a recognisable aesthetic: bold, dark narratives, grotesque characters and a hefty dollop of violence, which we see to great effect in your award-winning video, Hi, It’s Me, for Ashnikko. Is your work an outward manifestation of a dark interior?

Ha, good question! Yes. We all have dark and light [sides], but when I think of ideas my subconscious always tends to take me to the darker side of things. Maybe one day, though, I’m going to wake up and start pitching sunshine and rainbows to everyone.

 

Ashnikko, Stupid

 

Stupid is your second video for Ashnikko, and it carries a strong female empowerment message underneath all the gore. Can you unpack the creative concept and process for us?   

The lyrics are: ‘Stupid boy thinks that I need him’. So I thought to myself, what’s the least clichéd way of showing you don’t need a guy in a music video? Fucking kill his ass. I wanted to move away from the visual stereotypes of female artists when talking about not needing a guy. For example, girl walks into club, ex is with someone else, girl grabs another guy and dances on the dancefloor to make him jealous, ex gets jealous goes to her and begs forgiveness, girl is over it. She leaves with her friends. The end. That’s not empowering, is it? That’s just lame.

So, I wanted this video to be bold. A strong statement for a strong female artist like Ashnikko with a strong track. I couldn’t make something vanilla, because that wouldn’t be very ‘me’ and have you listened to the lyrics? ‘I know you think about me in the shower, PornHub in your browser, fantasising about the PUSSY POWER?’! I mean, yeah. The only way of doing justice to a song like that is to have a killer narrative and I think we got both.

 

Strong choreography and styling is another hallmark of your work. Are you the kind of director who plans things out meticulously in pre-production or do you prefer a more organic approach?

Anyone reading this question that knows me will be laughing. I’m SUPER meticulous, down to the exact millisecond – e.g. ‘at 0:05, she extends her hand’. Planning, going over shots a billion times, challenging yourself constantly… it’s the only way I know how to direct. Having an organic approach works brilliantly for other type of directors that maybe are more visually-led and don’t have narrative as their centre piece. But for me, no. I have to plan. All my biggest influences plan loads and only through planning can you see their magic.

 

Steven Wilson, Personal Shopper 

 

Your video, Personal Shopper for Steven Wilson, is a nightmarish comment on consumerism and takes the idea of ‘selling your soul’ to gruesome physical lengths. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the film and how you brought it to life?

I was inspired by the lyrics and pacing of the track. The track is a social criticism of consumerism and how we fill our lives with unnecessary goods to feel important, special or loved. But the truth is, the feeling of unhappiness won’t go away with the next pair of sick trainers. Those feelings will only go away when we look within, and if we don’t… well, then we’re going to end up with a lot of stuff around us, but still pretty empty.

Luckily the track being six minutes gave me enough time to develop an interesting narrative. I wanted to create a fictional world in which people buy goods and the transaction would not only be money but also a part of their body, alluding to the concept of the more you look for answers outside, the more you disappear on the inside.

It was brought to life thanks to my talented production team Luke Tierney and Joseph Goldman. It was a true production and logistical nightmare and they pulled it off. I’m forever grateful of the amount of work they did for it. A two-day shoot with an ambitious shot list in a super-busy London shopping centre with a very modest budget, and to top it off, the day we started shooting was the school break, so it was busy as hell.

 

BTS, Bree Runway, ATM

 

Your latest video for Bree Runway with Missy Elliot completely blew our socks off. Everyone seems to love it. What was it like working with Bree and Missy?

Thank you! Yeah the response has been crazy, I was quite surprised! When you release a video you never know how people will respond to it, you just hope some people get it. And a lot certainly did, Cardi B loved it so much she shared it twice!

Working with them was really great. I had more contact with Bree because we had a few rehearsals so that gave me a chance to get to know her in person. She’s a power house: full of energy, confidence and talent. But mostly she was really trusting with her song and let me run with it. As for Missy, I met and talked to her team closely but sadly didn’t have a chance to meet her as she had to shoot in the US. However I was really grateful that she understood my vision for her section of the track and think that shows in the video. Her part fits effortlessly into the whole concept even though she was in Atlanta and we were in UK.

 

Where does an idea like that come from – was it in the original brief?

The original brief was the aftermath of a party: full of empty champagne bottles, money all over the floor. A luxurious chaos in which Bree and her friends are enjoying the success of their own empire.  For me, the idea of Bree and her friends enjoying their own success was very appealing so I started exploring the money empire idea in combination with ATMs like in the lyrics.  Because of the track’s melody and pacing I wanted to create a Chicago / Moulin Rouge narrative. In it Bree and her friends control everyone and everything and what’s easier to control than a machine? So it all grew from there.

 

Lucrecia directing on set for Bree Runway’s ATM – click on pic to view video

 

How was it shooting between lockdowns? Any major challenges for the production?

I shot quite a lot during lockdown and never had a problem – I’m one of the lucky ones! But on this particular production national lockdown hit us the same day we were meant to shoot. We were meant to film ATM on Wednesday and on Sunday the Government announced we were moving back into full lockdown as of that Wednesday. Out of panic, the location dropped us. Somehow we managed to convince the location to let us shoot as productions could go ahead – phew!

My production team managed to hide the stress of it all from me but then my AD walked in for a run-through of the shot list and the first thing he said was ‘did you hear we lost the location?’ You should have seen the producers’ faces (Luke Tierney and Joseph Goldman) Lol. I laugh now 😉  In the end, they managed to resolve it so all the credit goes to them.

 

You’re signed to FRIEND in London and we hear you’ve just signed to Landia in Buenos Aires. Will you be flitting back and forth?

Yes! I always wanted to be with a production company in my hometown, and with Landia I’ve found that place. Excited to do great things with them in Buenos Aires and Sao Pablo. As for flitting back and forth, too soon to tell but I hope so!

 

What other projects do you have in the pipeline?

 I have a few photoshoots and music videos in the pipeline. Same as always… just casually taking over the world. #latingang

 

Interview by Selena Schleh

@lucrecia.taormina

lucreciataormina.com

FRIEND

Credits

Bree Runway, ft Missy Elliott, ATM

Director: Lucrecia Taormina
Executive Producer: Luke Tierney
Producer: Joseph Goldman
Production Company: FRIEND
Production Manager: Ash Teague
1st AD: Jack Green
2nd AD: Emma Chenery
DOP: Nico Poulsson
Trinity Op: Charlie Rizek
Art Director: Elizabeth El-Khadi Brown
Fx: Machines Shops
Choreographer: Kash Powell
Styling: Holly Adamwhite
Bree Make Up Artist: Paige Cole
VFX Supervisors: Mark; Dominik
Production Assistants: Rosie Hill; Joe Coulson
Covid Coordinator: Julien Cornwall
Commissioner: Anique Cox
Commissioner: James Hackett

Post
VFX Artist: Steve Hawken
VFX Artist: Mark Gregory
VFX Post House: Primary VFX
Edit: Meg Thorne
Edit Producer: Maggie McDermott
Edit Producer: Ruth Minkley
SFX Designer: Seb Bruen
Colourist: Luke Morrison
Post Producer: Oliver Whitworth
Post House: ETC
Online: Phil Wood

 

Personal Shopper

Director – Lucrecia Taormina
EP – Luke Tierney
Production Company – FRIEND
Producer – Joseph Goldman
Production Manager – Hugo Holford
Production Coordinator – Ash Teauge
1st AD – Ty Hack
2nd AD – Heini Susanne
DOP – Pieter Snyman
Steadycam Operator – Doug Walshe
Focus Puller – Phil Heron
Grip – Charlie Wyldeck-Flowers
Clapper Loader – Rob Hawkins
Camera Trainee – Jack Plumbridge
Gaffer – Peter Bishop
Spark – James leech
Spark – Matt Simmons
Spark 1st day – Simona Pran
Spark 2nd day – Greg Probert
Lighting Trainee – Josh Wood
Casting Director – Hannah Ashby Ward @ Lane Casting
SFX Prosthetics – Natasha Lawes
SFX Prosthetics Assist- Jess Heath
SFX Prosthetics Trainee – Alice Platts
Production Designer – Oliver Hogan
Art Department Assist – Jame Middleton
Art Department Assist – Rupert Wilson
Stylist – Flora Huddart
Stylist assist – Molly Robinson
Wigs & Hair – Natasha Lawes
Nails – Natasha Lawes
Make up – Andrea Gomez Anzola
Movement Director – Simon Donnellon
Runner – Joe Coulson
Runner – Tara Sadeghi
Runer – Tom Stuart
Location Manager – Dean Whittaker
Commissioner – Natalia Maus

Post
VFX Character Animation & Additional – Crystal Spotlight
VFX Artist – Kelvin Chim
VFX Artist – Steve Hawken
VFX Artist – Rob Chandler
VFX Artist – Abi Tomasiewicz
Edit – Meg Thorne
Edit Producer – Maggie Mcdermott
Edit Assistant – Rob Mcguire
Grade – Richard Fearon @ Black Kite Studios
Grade Producer – Polly Dur

 

LGBT Foundation, Locked Down And Out

Director: Lucrecia Taormina
EP: Luke Tierney
Production company: FRIEND
Producer: Joseph J. Goldman
Casting Agency: Lane Casting
Casting Director: Hannah Ashby Ward
AD: Jack Green
DOP- Joe Cook
Focus Puller: Phil Thomas
Steadicam: Justin Theodore
Sound recording -Charlie Hinde
Gaffer: Joe Sherno
Spark: Shaun Witherup
HMU artist: Natasha Lawes
Stylist: Holly Adamthwaite
Art Director: Bon Walsh

Cast
Lead: Miya Ocego
Mother: Cate Debenham

Post
Editor: Meg Thorne @ Cut + Run
Edit producer: Ruth Minkley @ Cut + Run
Grade: Richard Fearon @ Black Kite
Grade producer: Tamara Mennell @ Black Kite
Post Sound: Ben Gale & Shervin Shaeri
VFX: PJ Wood

Agency: The Gate
ECD: Lucas Peon
Creatives: John Osborne & Rickie Marsden
Account Manager: Blake Field

 

Ashnikko Ft. Yung Baby Tate,  Stupid

Director: Lucrecia Taormina
EP: Luke Tierney
Production Company: FRIEND
Producer: Joseph Goldman
Producer: Georgia Rose
AD: Jack Green
DOP: Matthew Emvin Taylor
Steadycam Operator: Richard Lewis
Gaffer: Peter Bishop
Spark: Matt Simmons
Spark: Peter Riches
Spark: Greg Probert
1st AC: AJ Golesworthy
2nd AC: Bennett Clarke
Production Designer: Bon Walsh
Production Designer Assist: Afra Zamara
Choreographer: Jamie Neale
Choreographer Assist: Harry Parr
DIT: Sebastian Hinds
Snake Handler: Celso Robayo
Action Vehicle: Dan
Low Loader Op: Jamie Robinson
Stylist: Holly Adamthwaite
Stylist assist: Emilia Zeihi
Make up: Georgia Olive
Make up Assist: Craig Hamilton
Hair: Claire Moore
Hair Assist: Carlo Avena
Nails: Yasmine Elwakill
Prod Assist: Hugo Holford
Prod Assist: Will Gore
Prod Assist: Sonny McMillan
BTS: Sebastian Hinds
Label: Warner
Comissioner: Sam Seager
Commissioner: Olivia West
Management: George Shepherd
Management: April Wright

Post
Edit: Thomas Brigden @ Final Cut
Sound Design: Chas Langston @ Final Cut
Grade: George Neave @ Coffee & TV

 

Ashnikko, Hi It’s Me

Director: Lucrecia Taormina
EP: Luke Tierney
Production company: FRIEND
Producer: Joseph Goldman
AD: Jack Green
DOP: Matthew Emvin Taylor
Steadycam operator: Grant Phillips
Gaffer: Kieren Alexander
Spark: Joss Lawson
Spark: James Duffy
1st AC: Malte Hübner
2nd AC: Connor Hall
Choreographer: Jamie Neale
Stylist: Holly Adamthwaite
Stylist Assist: Emily Clarke
Art director: Ash K Halliburton
Art Assist -Toleana Mcgeown
Art Assist: Jorge Higgins
Art Assist- Francesca Nwokeocha
Nails: Maria Mckenna
Prod Assist: Ellis Fox
Prod Assist: Hugo Holford
Prod Assist: Tara Roxanessa Deghi
Prod Assist- Sarah Garrett
Label: Warner
Comissioner: Sam Seager

Post
Edit: Meg Thorne @ CUT + RUN
Grade: Jonny Thorpe @ Glassworks
VFX: PJ Wood

 

Salt Ashes, Go All Out

Director: Lucrecia Taormina
EP: Luke Tierney
Producer: Rosie Litterick
Assistant Producer: Claire Stidston
1st AD: Ben Veasey
DOP: Ben Coughlan
Focus Puller: Phil Heron
Camera Trainee: Callum James
Grip: Steve Wells
Gaffer: Lee Brinkley
Spark: Liam O’ Leary
Spark: John Joe Besagni
Gimbal Op: Dan Lobo Pires
Art Director: Bobbie Cousins
Art Asst: Declan Price
Art Asst: Sara Kuna
Choreographer: Jamie Neale
Wardrobe provided by Magdalena Celeste Collection
Make up Artist: Sophie Cox
Make up Asst: Cat Gibbons
Make up Asst: Sophie Gia
Hair Stylist: Amidat Giwa
Nail Artists: Yasmine Elwakil
Runner: Jerry Matthews

Editor: Megan Thorne @ Cut + Run
Grade: Ruth Wardell @ ETC