Arnau Montanyes’ latest music video sees a trio of strangers drawn together through their love of music – in this case, Golden Bug’s Krokodil – for an impromptu dance encounter of spellbound bliss. I caught up with Arnau to discover how he rallied his resources to pull off this infectious dance promo after his original shooting schedule was slashed by 9 hours!
What inspired you to make Krokodil?
Well, last year I worked with Antoine Harispuru (Golden Bug) making the video Accroché à moi. It was a complex and ambitious shoot but with very few economic resources. We had to bundle a lot of people and ask for a lot of favors. For Krokodil we both knew that we had to do the opposite: find a simple idea that could be made by a super-reduced crew and using as little technical material as possible. Antoine showed me a great reference video that matched perfectly with everything we discussed: Lonely Boy by The Black Keys.
The dancers have a certain rawness about them, how did you go about casting?
Now I had to think how, with whom and where. To find the dancers I contacted Alejandra Alaff, Casting Director and friend. I had a lot of luck, only a few weeks before she did a casting with non-professional dancers, actually, common people dancing weirdly. When I saw that I couldn’t believe what my eyes saw, it was perfect!
What was your creative process when devising the storyline?
Maybe I was wrong with the approach, but I convinced myself that when I found the place, the story would come out by itself. I spent three weeks looking for a location that would help me think of a script and, in the end, the day before the shooting I had a location and a story that didn’t convince me at all. I couldn’t delay the filming any more, so I began to worry and really felt the pressure!
That night, while I was going back home riding on my bicycle and thinking about shooting the next day, I passed in front of a parking lot. All of a sudden, I saw it clearly. Everything needed to happen there, the story came without effort only by seeing the place. At last we had a location and a story to explain, but I had one big drawback, the parking lot people gave us permission to shoot for just 3 hours!
How did you approach preparing for that unyielding three-hour shoot?
In an attack of suicidal optimism, I decided to convoke the actors only an hour before shooting to make sure that everybody, technical and artistic crew, had the same feeling of improvisation and vertigo. We started to shoot at 8 pm and at 11:20 pm we were walking out of the parking lot door with everything filmed. All the clips are single shots. Only a couple of them had several options and, in both cases, we used the first option.
We started to shoot at 8 pm and at 11:20 pm we were walking out of the parking lot door with everything filmed.
How did you decide on what equipment to use?
Our budget was really low. We had €1000 to carry out the whole project. So the technical equipment used to make Krokodil was chosen bearing in mind the essential and minimum requirements needed to explain the story. First, we had to find a camera that would allow us to film at night and with no lightning. We chose the Sony Alpha 7s, which is small and easy to handle. It can go up to 40,000 ISO with an acceptable background noise, it outputs a 4K file, and its rental price is affordable.
We wanted to be able to follow the characters, circle them, get close and move away fast, without making the spectator dizzy. We set the camera on a Movcam stabilizer so we could move around the set effortlessly without having to cut out in order to change the shot. We went from a group full shot to a close shot of a character and from a tracking shot to a circular one without any breaks.
Except for the interior of the parking, the video clip is made up of three long shots, without any cuts. So it all came down to a camera, a stabilizer, a small spotlight for the car light effects and an eight-person team: a DOP, a focus puller, a two person production team, three dancers and me.
What’s next in the pipeline?
My near future is quite busy and exciting. Thank God! Our film production company Petra Garmon, of which I am a founding partner, has several advertisement projects ready to get started as soon as we come back from summer holidays. For September, we are hoping to find financial help to continue working on a documentary we have already started on a veteran climber specialized in free-climbing without ropes. If everything works out as planned, I hope this will be the year I will direct my first fiction short film. We already have the screenplay written. However, I am also looking forward to shooting more video clips, since I feel it’s a format that gives me the chance to learn new things and I enjoy a lot.