Master Peace, I Might Be Fake
Did you grow up in a creative environment? What was your route into directing?
I’m fortunate that both my parents are creative people. The films, and other arts, I was surrounded by during my childhood undoubtedly influenced me. I always loved drawing and comics as a child; they were a form of distraction from the drearier moments of school.
As a teenager, I photographed my friends on our escapades around London; the city and characters we met offered infinite amusement and inspiration. Around this time, I began to deepen my knowledge of many great filmmakers, photographers and artists. Subsequently, I became more considered in my approach of documenting the people around me. I started to write, shoot and edit short films or documentaries. Naturally, I learnt the limitations of being a one-man crew so I began to collaborate with people. Without design or intention, I fell into the role of director. Making shorts, often with no funding, became a frustrating process. Music promos offered a way to make films with some kind of budget. Fortunately, after making a couple for musician friends, I was noticed by record labels.
I Might Be Fake takes us to the bookies at a greyhound racing track. Where did that idea first come from?
In 2017, interested in the dying (often rightfully) parts of British culture, I shot a photography project on one of the last greyhound racing tracks in London. As the song, ‘I Might Be Fake’, is about pretending to be something that you’re not in order to succeed, I wanted to place Master Peace in an unfamiliar world which he could only navigate using deceit. Given Master Peace’s image, the controversial world of greyhound racing with its perceived association with white, working class Britain gave me the ideal setting.
The track ‘I Might Be Fake’ has a hyper, manic energy which I felt would be aptly personified in the scampering liveliness of the greyhounds and the volatile nature of betting itself.
Master Peace, I Might Be Fake
Eliciting extreme joy, and then disappointment, to the outcomes of the races must have been awfully good fun for everyone on set. Tell us a bit about working with the cast.
Many of the cast were background artists, not used to expressing emotion in close-up. They needed to give intense, physical performances but with the film crew watching and the time-sensitive environment of a set, they found this quite daunting. Acting out specific moments myself (not always particularly well!) to show the way I wanted them to be performed broke the ice and created a more lighthearted, collective feeling on Set. I also always play the song on set, even when we’re not shooting to sync – it gives the cast a rhythm and energy to act to.
Your work has a definite nostalgia to it – not only in your warm, saturated colour palette but also in your narratives, be it a night in a classic British caff or a day out at the races. What would you say draws you to examine nostalgic themes?
I’m driven to tell stories that make everyday existence feel meaningful and magical. By investigating the commonplace moments of life, and giving them scale, I try to take ordinary situations and make them feel extraordinary. I like to set these narratives in specific worlds that act as microcosms of contemporary Britain.
Loo Song, another film for Master Peace, brings together a whole host of individuals who might find themselves in a greasy spoon late at night. What were you looking for during the casting process, and how did you keep the party atmosphere going on set?
I wanted the characters to be a truthful representation of contemporary Britain. I’m tired of seeing work where the cast is contrived or unrealistically “beautiful”. The concept was about everyday individuals owning who they were and what they desired without a care for the repercussions. The actors kissing one another on-screen were all partners in real life. Their bravery and willingness to show desire for one another on camera transcended into a vivacious atmosphere on set.
Master Peace, Loo Song
I’m interested to hear more about the process of shooting Brussels, spending days in the eponymous city. What challenges did you encounter during production?
The record label’s brief was simple, ‘go to Brussels and shoot a promo’. Neither I nor Master Peace like “stereotypical” music videos that lazily intercut performance shots with aesthetically pleasing, yet often unrelated, images. However, shooting a narrative-driven promo was set to be a tricky endeavour as all the budget had gone on travel, accommodation and equipment. Inspired by Romain Gavras’ video for Justice, I wanted to adopt a documentary-esque shooting style that allowed for guerilla filmmaking whilst capturing the raw, frenetic energy of the track.
Although I’d written a narrative, it quickly became clear I’d have to be flexible and adapt spontaneously to what the city offered. The director of photography, Cassius Kane, carrying an Arri Amira with a vintage super-16 lens attached to it inevitably attracted interest from many passersby. After asking what we were shooting, many were happy to feature in the film. On the spot, we’d improvise and shoot scenes like the girl storming through the house or Master Peace attacked on the staircase. It was incredible how willing the people of Brussels were to participate. I doubt we’d have had the same responses if we were shooting in London. Every evening, I’d edit the rushes so I knew what we’d need to shoot the following day. Moments of serendipity led to the story evolving and writing itself while we were there.
Master Peace, Brussels
Having directed three music videos for Master Peace, you must be developing a creative shorthand between you. In what ways has your partnership progressed or changed since your first project together?
The main thing we’ve developed is trust. Subsequently, he’s become more fearless in front of the camera; giving so many unique moments to choose from in the edit. Master Peace, like myself, doesn’t settle for the ordinary or expected. As we share a similar taste in music, film and other art forms, it’s a blessing to have a creative partnership where you both push each other in the same direction.
What are you working on next? Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Currently, I’m working as the creative director on Master Peace’s debut album. We have three more videos coming out before its release in March. After that, I’ll keep working on music videos. In addition, I have a short documentary in early stages – I’m very excited to get stuck into some longer form projects!
Interview by Becca Nichols
I Might Be Fake - Master Peace
Directed by Freddie Cattaneo
Produced by Kate Shelley
Production Assistant: Tomas Leslie
1st AD: Maxim Elliot
2nd AD: Billy French
Cinematographer: Cassius Kane
Steadicam Operator: Jak Waughman
1st AC: Teddy Udsholt-Clayton
1st AC (Greyhounds): Grace Campbell
2nd AC: Poppy Langley
Gaffer: Adam Trz
Spark: Ken Liew
Spark: Fin Grover
Production Designer: Freya Osborne
Art Assistant: Tigerlily Campbell-Smith
Art Assistant: Roz Mather
Editor: Luke Anderson
Offline Edit House: Stitch Editing
Edit Producer: Sarah Adewunmi
Sound Mixer: Stanley Banbury
Graphic Designer: Edgar Ocampo Pazmino
Colourist: Thomas Kumeling
Colour House: Black Kite Studios
Colour Producer: Lewes Bridson
Special thank you to Saun O’Mahoney, Shaun Reynolds, Bronte Yeldham, Pixi Pixel, Milly May, Adam Fox and Chris Wilson.