Slider Image
18th January 2024
Runway success
Title of film: Supermodel, Push
Director: Joe Connor & Emile Rafael (aka Supermodel)
Production Company: Rogue, Agile, Closer, Arts & Sciences
Emile Rafael and Joe Connor are both artists, musicians and established filmmakers in their own right, each with their own distinctive style. Although they will be continuing with their independent directing careers, they have created Supermodel together as a music project and released three singles over the past six months - Push, Have You Forgot and Bowery. We talk with the two renaissance men about collaborating artistically and making their first Supermodel music video for their track Push.

Self-reflection: Emile Rafael and Joe Connor on set directing their first Supermodel music video, Push 

What was behind the decision to collaborate musically and what were the initial conversations like?

Joe: After an aborted attempt to write another folk album (following my first one in 2017), I couldn’t quite get my act together to record some new music. I would chat to Emile most days, just chewing ideas back and forth, and we started to feel that maybe we were looking for the same thing, a sound that resonated with the post-Brexit decay we both sensed.

Emile: It was Covid, lockdown; we had to stop everything, and there was no directing for a while. I started looking at some music sketches I had done over the years. I sent some to Joe, and we did our first track together, called “Have You Forgot.” A small label wanted to release it, and suddenly we realised that this could be something much more serious than a side project.

I think, yes, we are very much pursuing our own projects, but what’s nice about Supermodel is that it has its own voice because it’s so much of both of us. It has its own look and universe that it creates. We thought a lot about this at the start. I can see a possible future where there is a Supermodel production in other outlets.

Joe : I think we’ve both looked for a home for our extracurricular activities, music, art, poetry. Supermodel feels like an umbrella for a lot of exploration.

Making music

Supermodel does indeed have its own unique sound – were you always in agreement about the music you wanted to make?

Joe : Actually, the sound has emerged organically. We share similar tastes in music and reference points. The first major decision for me was to speak instead of just sing. I wanted to embrace being Northern for the first time in years, and speaking allowed me to just lean into my voice more, to not sing with any american-isms. The lyrics seemed to just flow out of me, the bits you say to yourself and try to keep hidden.

Emile: Joe is an amazing lyricist, I think, a real storyteller with his words, and it fits so well with the sound. And yes, while we think a lot about the presentation and constantly create a visual universe, the music is where I think we feel free. It emerges very spontaneously, and yet there is a definite Supermodel sound to it.

Joe: I am aiming to be the Northern Keats, Emile is the thinking man’s Dre.

Emile: Lol, that’s one dated reference.

From Supermodel, Push

The three singles all have strong visual narratives – we particularly like the line in Push “I might get sober next October, if I get myself together” which feels very apposite for this time of year. How does the creative process, writing the lyrics and then producing the tracks, work between you?

Joe: I’ve always written lyrics as a sort of daily habit. I do it instead of doom-scrolling. I find that it helps me to process life and understand the little corners of my brain. I’ve always really admired lyricists who plug right into the truth and don’t sugarcoat it. While I don’t struggle with alcohol, anyone living in London or the UK, in general, knows that our culture has a symbiotic relationship with alcohol and substances. They play a significant role in how we socialise, do business, meet new people. There’s a truth to the sentiment that ‘if I could get myself together’ life would be better. Like the lotus flower, growth often comes from out of the mud. I like to dig around in the muddy bits to find truths to write about.

Emile: A lot of the songs start with my musical ideas, and then Joe adds lyrics and other instrumentation too. Although the next single came pretty much from Joe, with my production and musical additions, we somehow manage to be very prolific together, there are a bunch more tracks waiting to be mixed.

Joe: I think that’s one of the strengths – we can both write tracks but it always seems to sound like Supermodel.

Supermodel, Push

Although Supermodel was created as a passion project your parent production companies – Agile, Rogue, Closer and Arts & Sciences – supported you all the way with the production of the just released video for Push.

Joe: I think all three companies support the artists they work with to expand their work and push their boundaries.

Emile: I think they liked the music; that was one big test for us.

Joe : We asked them every week if they liked the music, and they have always said yes, so…we just forged ahead.

Emile: It was actually anyone who worked on this; they got constantly asked, “Yes, but do you actually like the track?”
But in all seriousness, we are incredibly grateful to everyone who believed in this, starting with our production homes.

On Set shooting Supermodel, Push

How did the creative process evolve co-directing for the first time? Did a working balance between you come about naturally, for instance did you fall into your own particular strengths and skill sets or did you work together on every production decision? Any major tug of wars?

Emile: I think it was one big tug of war. You can just feel it in the video. I think we both have very similar tastes, but we get there in very different ways. So it was more about an approach rather than fighting over a particular decision.

Joe: I love anything Emile does, so I just kept him from himself so that he could do his best work. That was my main job. I found the tussle quite nice to be honest, I like being challenged and having to bounce creative ideas around.

Emile: In a way, I do think the tension brings out a pretty interesting result, both in music and in the visual aspects. I think if we both were super similar in our approach, it would be boring. We’re both strong-minded and obviously have quite a few hours on-set under our belts. I learned a lot, but man, sometimes we really did wind each other up.

Joe : Everything’s alright in the end, if it’s not alright, then it’s not the end. No stress.

Emile: Ah, that John Lennon quote.


Was everything nailed down in pre-production?

Emile: I like to nail everything down in prep as much as possible; I do storyboards, animatics, and I usually don’t stop until the day of the shoot as it gives me a feeling of being in control. Joe, however, is much more open to chance, I think, and works within the set parameters, taking those broad strokes. It really took me out of my comfort zone in that sense, and I could see the benefit of that, finding interesting things that happen on the day.

Joe : I come from a live theatre background, and I’ve always loved work that feels alive. Risk is an inherent part of creating something that has a pulse. You have to have risk, chance, reward, failure, passion, fear…and you have to embrace all of them. Set the stage, tell the players their parts and find the work. Obviously, I can be buttoned down when I need to be on a project, but with Supermodel, I felt that there was so much life and possibilities in spontaneity around a simple story.

90% of commercial filmmaking shies away from this reality. Great work always has a little element of spontaneity to it. If you have the chance to embrace it, like we did here, you must push it.

Emile: We pushed it alright.


Can we expect some live performances soon? Perhaps with astounding visuals?

Emile: Well, I really hope so. Joe just needs to finish his insane job, where he has been living in the desert for the past half year, and realize his true calling in life, which is Supermodel.

Joe : Supermodel was born to be heard live.

Emile: The answer is yes, that’s the next big step.









Directed by: Emile Rafael, Joe Connor

Produced by: Matouš Marcinko, Emile Rafael

Executive Producers: Myles Payne, Mal Ward, Marc Marrie, Kate Taylor, Charlie Crompton, James Howland

Production Manager: Alžběta Novosadová

Director of Photography: Michal Babinec

Editor: Liv Ay at TRIM EDIT

Edit Producer: Noreen Khan

Choreography: Kristina Tukan

Stylist: Tereza Kopecká

Stylist's Assistant: Filip Vlček

Make Up Artist: Phil Noiraude

Make Up Assistant: Anna Ipatová

Set Designer: Matěj Kos

Prop Master: Michal Jalůvka

PA: Adéla Veríšová

First Assistant Director: Matěj Bláhovec

First AC: Filip Kettner

2nd AC: Michal Vojta

DIT/VTR: Lubor Riedl

BTS: Rita Watson

Gaffer: Jirka Vrána

Best Boy Lights: Vít Morawski

Grip: Ludvík Hradílek

Steadicam: Daniel Vagenknecht

Casting: Arwa Salmanova of Simon Says

Cast: Kristina Tukan, Waitress: Barbora Jílková, Medium: Tereza Hofová, Dancers: Tina Breiova, Marek Mensik, With: Hana Janata, Julie Rezková, Veronika Vaculíková, Oswaldo Osorio


Post Producer Agile Studios: David Horsburgh, Oksana Steblyk

Online Editor: Joe Corrie

Sound Design: Izaak Buffin at Rascal Post

Sound Producer: Maddy Lebel

Voice Over Recording: Lukáš Mutňanský

VFX Team: Kevin Marien, Thomas Dunleavy, Andrew Loughnane, Andrius Vizbaras


Colourist: Tom Mangham

Colour Producer: Jade Denn