Taking a swipe at certain orange tinged leader of the free world, Dutch alt-rockers De Staat square off against themselves and then some in Director Wouter Stoter’s partisan red versus blue music video for Kitty Kitty. Watch things get riled up below, after which Wouter tells us all about the techniques behind this hip-swivelling critique of polarisation.
When I heard the track for the first time, the looping bass line, made me think of a repeated zooming in camera. Torre Florim (the singer) told me that the lyrics were based on speeches and interviews of Trump, so the idea of zooming in, like hypnosis or manipulation made even more sense. Although we didn’t want the video to be clearly about politics, rather be something cool and layered, people will get it anyway.
Torre, who likes to be closely involved in the concept phase, thought about using masses again. He felt it fitted the epic feel of the track. I was not sure about this, as I didn’t want to compete with Witch Doctor, and loose…haha. But thinking about masses and manipulation, led to the idea of polarisation; driving people of a country up against each other. That’s where the idea of De Staat vs. De Staat came from. A performance video, with Torre rallying his bandmates against another Torre with his bandmates, was a cool and still subtle way to visualise polarisation. ‘De Staat’ even means ‘The State’ in Dutch, which I thought was funny.
The track is 6 minutes, and rigidly structured, like a dance track. Because it was so long, we used the transitions in the song as scenes guiding the viewer through the video, as in a short film. The zooming baseline, the shouting of Hey!, the building up, the quiet moment after the first alarm phases (as I call it) the group shouting and the uprising guitar riff at the end were all different chapters adding up to the apocalyptic end. I just listened to the music and imagined what could happen there in order to get to the end.
And of course, there is Torre’s performance who as leader of both packs, takes us on this journey. He prepared all the bits and gestures himself, which was a treat, cause he is a great performer and really expresses the idea behind the lyrics. And we all know where he got his mimic and manners from…
A performance video, with Torre rallying his bandmates against another Torre with his bandmates was a cool and still subtle way to visualise polarisation.
We wanted to limit CGI shots as much as possible by using the massive crowds sparsely and tell as much in camera through film language. That’s why the first 2:20 minutes are only just zooms in shot-anti shot, like a dialogue. Some parts are shot at 6K and are digitally zoomed in to 2K. That’s why we shot the close-ups in slow motion because you focus on the emotional impact, you don’t actually focus on the background and don’t notice that there are no duplicates.
For all the CGI shots we made an animatic to see how many layers we would need to shoot and how long that part would be interesting to watch. We shot different takes at different positions to avoid too much of a CGI or robotic feel. The first duplication, when we move past the band, we managed to do with a techno crane instead of motion control, just pushing starting on the right beat. Our DP Niels Boon calls it ‘the poor man’s motion control’.
We shot the video on the Red Weapon Helium with Master Primes over 1.5 days. That first half day was for pre-lighting, creating one set-up in which we could film all the different angles and positions without adjusting the light too much. We had a small studio and put the band on a moveable stage in order to get them quickly to the next angle and position.
The most difficult part was to have them play all the different parts in the right position and with the right angle, as we had different set-ups for blue and red. But doing it like that, we could really make them stand in front of each other, everything is shot from another angle, although hardly anybody sees it, haha.
The red and blue colours were part of the initial concept and I wanted to do it on set. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford this and we had to do it in post/grading afterwards. I’m not a fan of adding colours in the grade, especially when dealing with skin tones and also because Niels lit it so well. That’s why we choose to have the colour light coming more from the ground.
The edit/composite/CGI took, on and off, 2 months. It was done during summertime and in between jobs. The guys at The Compound did a fantastic job and were dedicated to make it the best they could, without knowing for sure it would have any success. Same for the production company, WE ARE WILL. These guys and companies make your project happen. You go there with your small budget and they just say, cool idea, we’re in, knowing they have to work their asses off. I’m very thankful to them.
Kitty Kitty is one of the many great projects shared with the Directors Notes Programmers through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them submit your film.