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In a music video perfectly suited to the name of directing outfit Zero Landscape, we follow an unknown man through a mix of desolate urban decay and wild deserted forest vistas to the haunting tones of Carla Bozulich’s Gonna Stop Killing, as he searches out we know not. Intrigued (and slightly unsettled), DN invited Zero Landscape to provide some clarity on the production and the enigmatic concept of the video.

I am a big fan of Carla Bozulich and asked her if I could make a music video for her song One Hard Man. There was someone else making a music video for that song, so she suggested Gonna Stop Killing. In the end I am happy with that, because I love the song and the possibilities to combine imagery with it. I had this idea to make a portrait of a friend of mine (Steven Lucke) – just film him in his habitat, to get him as natural on camera as possible and to give the impression that he’s a professional hitman. In the end, I went for a more cinematic look, a bit less raw, but still tried to get this portrait feeling. I already had these ideas of flashbacks (destructive buildings and subway scenes) and wanted to combine that with his life, and also to add his future dreams of retiring, and a fantastical desire to merge with nature (some influences which came from Tarkovsky’s Stalker). To use the parakeet as symbol of freedom (and also attachment as a plant is in the film Léon) was an idea that developed during shooting.

The shoot itself took an enormous amount of time, mainly because of my (temporary) back problems. So shooting in the subway resulted in two weeks of pain. Not a huge problem, considering there was no specific deadline for the film, and it gave me the freedom to think through the whole concept very thoroughly. Also, shooting RAW with the help of Magic Lantern software (thanks!) on my Canon 5D Mark III was quite an intense work process. You really had to think as if you were shooting with traditional film, meticulously thinking out shots before shooting. I think that also helped to focus things more. On the other hand, the whole process (with many long intervals considering resting periods and other paid jobs) took a very long time. I think something like half a year.

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Shooting in the Urban Explorer building (a former mental hospital) was a great experience (some asbestos risk though), as was having the opportunity to film in two different nature environments. While the nature environments were quite nice, they were nothing that you would describe as spectacular. However, getting the right camera angle, and some distance from the sidewalk allowed us to give a suggestion of very wild nature. In addition to the 5D, the only other equipment we had were three Zeiss lenses (ZF.2 35/1.4, 50/2 and 100/2), a cheap but sturdy tripod, and a shoulder rig. We didn’t even have a slider – instead we used a tripod on a piece of carpet to get the hall scenes where we move towards the protagonist on the coach. I didn’t use a storyboard, but did try to divide each step (shooting, editing, grading) into separate phases in order to get a good edit with flat colouring, and not be tempted to use heavily graded shots before the grading stage. That way, I hoped to get a better end result.

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