If you found yourself tearing up at Peter Mullan’s loss in the To Build a Home promo then might I suggest that you arm yourself with a box of tissues before hitting play on Crowns & Owls’ moving take on grief for Jarbird’s debut track More Bad Celebrity Poetry. Dabbing my eyes, I asked the Leeds based film directing collective to share how they tapped into the emotional vein without tipping over into mawkishness.
We developed the concept after we heard the first demo of the track several months before we started shooting. We’d never really tried to deal with anything particularly poignant before, so it took some time to work out the right angle from which to approach. I think it’s fair to say the main catalyst in the shaping of the idea was Frank Ryan who we cast as our lead. We’d worked with him in our Toby Gale promo and realised what a talent he was. Frank really, really cares and it shows in his work.
The concept remained largely the same as our initial script, albeit a few alterations for pace when we were sent new mixes of the track. The night before the shoot we were sent the final mix, and there was a section after the last chorus that added a good 8 bars that kind of took us by surprise. We took a gamble and added the shot where we track back from Frank’s face for quite an extended time before we cut to the vast wide shot with the reveal. In all honesty, we weren’t sure it would work, which isn’t a position we like to put ourselves in, but I think it’s became one of our favourite shots in the promo and we feel delivers the emotion more than what we’d devised initially.
The piece was shot on the Red Epic with Zeiss Super Speed PL mounts. The lighting was fairly minimal and only came into play during the bedroom scenes. We had a mix of all sorts going on, we set up an 8×8 Silk outside of the window which was bouncing a lot of the natural light back into the room which gave us a good starting point. From there we used a Reefer for fill and 150’s were clipped around the room to give us hair lights and kickers for the close ups. The shot where we go from day to night was an awkward dance of dimmer board usage and light panning. It was pretty clumsy but we got there in the end. The crew was small so a lot of multitasking went down to pull that one off!
The piece was approached with a very DIY style, along with a lot of our other shots. The bedroom scenes were actually shot in what was the band’s living room that we decorated ourselves without telling the landlord. It was all tacky carpets and flaking walls before we sanded and varnished the floorboards and painted everything. That took us a good week to pull around. We sourced all of the hospital equipment from the set of Emmerdale!
The shoot took place over three days and went incredibly smoothly. The crew consisted of 7 people so it was an all hands on deck affair. We turned the shoot around on a sub £2k budget as the band are good friends of ours.