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17th September 2021
Wild horses
Title of film: BADBADNOTGOOD, Beside April
Director: Camille Summers-Valli
Production Company: Somesuch / Division
Combine a vague brief about ‘horse dressage’ with a majestic white steed, an equine-phobic director and a TikTok challenge, and what do you get? A simply extraordinary music video-slash-psychedelic fever dream in which an intriguing cast of characters intersect with technical camera trickery and stunning Georgian landscapes. Somesuch director Camille Summers-Valli tells 1.4 about overcoming childhood fears, endlessly duplicating horses and why she won’t be making Avatar 3 any time soon.

 

We absolutely love the video for Besides April – it’s like stepping into a psychedelic fever dream! The brief from the band sounds quite vague – ‘they wanted to do something around horses and equestrians’ – how did you work together to flesh that out into a creative concept?

Thank you! So happy that you liked it. The brief was fairly open, yes (like all the best ones). BADBADNOTGOOD wanted to do something with horse dressage. Which was where this begun. As I looked into it, I found horse dressage very formal. The horses felt really disciplined and controlled which I honestly struggled to fit with all the track. So that’s where I chose to explore the horse in many forms. And really wanted to build this feeling of the horse being the protagonist. Something that everyone was chasing. A really beautiful horse that wants to get away from us horrible humans…

 

 

The first-ever film footage from 1878, Horse in Motion, was a strong source of inspiration for the video, but we’re also reminded of Edvard Munch’s horses. Tell us more about the visual and filmic references you drew on?

Yes, as a kid I had a toy, a metal wheel which you could spin. Through a small frame you would see the Horse in Motion. I was fascinated with it. I love it because the history and the visual potential for metamorphosis of a character – layers and layers that can morph into something else.

The stories and mythical characters of horses in Greek Mythology were a huge inspiration.

I wanted the horse to become something surreal, intangible like they do in many myths and legends.

Harold Eggerton photos were an inspiration.

Duplication being a theme, I also looked at tiktok challenges. There is this one where people will duplicate themselves while they dance which I found so entertaining to watch. It’s great.

 

 

You’ve admitted to being terrified of horses, but there’s no sense of that in the final film, it’s an incredible tribute to a horse’s power and beauty. How did you deal with your fear during production? Was that the most challenging aspect of the shoot for you?

As a child I was thrown of a horse quite violently and ended up in hospital for a while. I do remember that, as I was driven off in an ambulance, that the horse in question looked incredible sad and apologetic. I can remember the look in its eye.

I didn’t get back on the horse, as you are meant to, so alas I don’t love being super close to them.

But I didn’t really need to. Max Pittner, the DP did. I kept a safe distance.

The most challenging aspect was the prep. The cuts in the film where all completely planned out and carefully timed with the track, so there was very little margin for error on the shooting days. But our great local AD, Sopo Parjiani was really on it with timings.

 

 

You’ve talked before about how your work is extremely image-led, and the way you piece images together is instinctive rather than theoretical – was that very much the process here?

This one was slightly different. The track, Beside April, is really emotive. And varies a lot. There is melancholy, there is tension, violence, tranquility. I was very much responding to the music when coming up with the creative.

 

 

The range of filmic techniques you’ve used is impressive and really adds to the dreamlike quality of the video, particularly the kaleidoscopic shots of the horse and rider. Was this an opportunity to explore any new techniques or push your filmcraft in a new direction?

Yeah, it really was. And I am so grateful to Monumental FX, the Paris-based post house, who put so much great work into this. I have always wanted to dabble in VFX and the team at Monumental were so collaborative and didn’t mind trying stuff in different ways.

It’s a new skill, for sure, but I won’t be making Avatar 3 anytime soon.

 

 

What are your favourite aspects of the finished film?

The casting is a big one. Shooting in Georgia we had access to some amazing actors and incredible faces and personalities.

The dog chasing the camera. That was a tricky shot. We only managed to get one good take out of about 20 because the dog kept getting distracted by other things. And the trick duplication in there which connects to the duplicating horse sequence.

I also love the mother character, Baia Kereselidze, screaming at camera. That was a goosebumps moment.

 

 

 

Interview by Selena Schleh

@camille.summersvalli

Camille Summers-Valli website

Somesuch website

Division website

@monumental_fx

 

 

Credits

Director: Camille Summers-Valli

Exec Producer: Emory Ruegg

Producer: Maddy Perkins 

DOP: Max Pittner

Costume Designer: Tati Cotliar         

Costume supplied by: Chopova Lowena 

Music Video Rep: Andre Reid-McKinley 

Production Company: Somesuch & Co

Co-Production Company: Division 

 

MONUMENTAL FX

Post-Producer: Germain Robin

Editor: Antonin Bronès 

Assistant Editor: Simon Tristant

 

SQUARE

VFX Supervisor: Colin Journée

VFX Coordinator: Mathieu Jussreandot

2D artists: Isabelle Tchoungang, Adrien Avenel, Romain Bedouet

 

WGT

Colourist: Nicke Cantarelli

Colourist-producer: Therése Misgena

 

METRO PRODUCTIONS

Producer: Masho Tevdorashvilli 

1st AD: Sopo Parjiani 

Production Company: Metro Production

Executive Producer: Sandro Gabilaia

Head of Production: Maia Gurabanidze

Producer: Masho Tevdorashvili

1st AD: Sopo Parjiani

Production Manager: Tato Pantsulaia

Casting Director: Tina Khizanishvili

 

Commissioner: Caroline Waxse