In his single shot, tracking promo for WALL’s Shoestring, Oscar Hudson takes the message corruption inherent in a game of Chinese whispers and turns it on its head; instead distorting the appearance of the messengers as the whisper passes from ear to ear. We asked Hudson to give us the straight story behind the video’s production:
I find myself sometimes feeling a little frustrated at the intangibility and immateriality of the film making process, where thanks to fancy effects and clever editing a film can feel largely disconnected from the actual experience of making it. So for me, making a one-shot film presents a very different and very satisfying type of challenge. One where the real labor behind a video goes into organising people, props, movements and precision timing, I always prefer doing things in-camera.
I settled on the Chinese whispers concept because I figured it does that clever thing where you quickly establish a structure for a video but leave the content to unfold gradually and compellingly. So in this case the whispering/camera tracking format is established right away but the identity of whisperers is left to slowly unfold. Normally in the game of Chinese whispers its the whispered secret that gets warped, but here I made it so that it was the whisperers themselves that grew stranger and I hoped that doing that would provide a reason for a viewer to want to keep watching.
The video is in slow motion, so the whole sequence had to be completed in about a minute and a half to fit to the track. To achieve this we had the song playing double time with a series of painfully shrill and piercing beeps overlaid onto it to help us hit our marks. Add to this me screaming directions at our poor actors to help them time their whispers and Lyla of WALL charging around set trying to beat the camera to her next mark, it made for 6 incredibly hectic takes. And it ended up being the 6th and final attempt that made the cut. Some of our actors were not in costumes particularly suitable for the freezing cold February air (the last chap in the sequence most of all), so we really did have to work at lightning speed. We didn’t even have time for proper playback on set, so when we had to call the wrap I was still uncertain if we’d even gotten the take we needed! It was such a massive relief to final watch the footage along with the track and see everything come together.