We last saw Kevork Aslanyan on our pages with his piano restorer documentary short Balkan Royal, today the Bulgarian director takes DN through the creation of Holey Wholly Holy, his emotionally intense music video for Sasha Siem which provides an uncomfortably raw look at a doomed relationship, destined to rupture despite the longing for connection of its two lovers.

A heads up, there are some NSFW images in here.

What was the starting point for this doomed couple tale and what were you looking for when casting the roles?

After hearing the track for the first time I got to this one image of this sad couple. They are from those guys who are struggling with the lack of love for quite a while now. Regular folks who have reached the end of their path as a couple. Literary too different to walk the same path any more. That is what makes them pretty disappointed with each other and even angry. They are trying to keep up the spirit but lately, it is getting impossible. We are going to peek into their relationship during a “romantic” date at a cheap motel/hotel room where they will try to set things right. But we all know that this won’t happen though. They are going to get wasted. Love has faded away far too long ago from their nest. It is going to be a complete disaster.

I felt the melancholy of the track very intuitively. That is what I wanted to create with the story as well. I cast Stanislava Nikolova and Mak Marinov, actors that have strong chemistry. Love affection that hits you like a train. They had to be able to showcase their love and affection to each other pretty easily because in the end, we were going to see on screen their hate for each other. We were going to investigate their relationship as detectives, but not too much. Keeping some distance on the emotional track line where things are just messy and devastating. This needed to be an emotional journey as the track is exactly this.

Love has faded away far too long ago from their nest. It is going to be a complete disaster.

In what ways did you design Holey Wholly Holy’s cinematography and lighting so as to further convey the fractious distance between the couple?

Everything was thought out from the being. In this case, the most important part that regarding the DOP’s job was the location and we did a brilliant job in the search for the ‘right’ place! It took us 2-3 days of scouting but it was worth it in the end. The following is taken from my treatment word for word:

“Our camera will be on a tripod, under the status of classical cinema style – mostly static. Beautifully lit and meticulously designed shots. As this narrative requires us to give space to the actors, we need to make the environment open and easy for them to be able to create and to give 100% of their capabilities – nothing too complicated camera wise. We will be shooting with old lenses in order to achieve this vintage vibe and grainy image. With the Arri Alexa mini, in 2:39:1 aspect ratio. The image will be created out of cold colours in terms of feelings and for sure looking distant. Achieving this atmosphere is a must. We want to empathise with our characters’ problem. To see their destroyed world as it is. To create this huge dent – metaphorically for the lack of love. Because we are going to use those old lenses the depth of field will be superb – cinematic style. We are going to use light equipment, creating a colour contrast as the location that we are going to use eventually “motel/hotel” will be within minimal reach of natural light.”

How difficult was it to shape the disintegrating progress of their ‘romantic weekend’?

After the casting was done and we picked the right people with the right chemistry, we had a rehearsal period. We just basically sat in a room and were talking with the actors about their characters. Their relationships and experiences as well. Who are they in the movie! What their relationship was all about and what it is right now. So on set everything was shaped already and everybody knew what was going on and where they were headed in the relationship.

So the editing process was but of course the key element in our storytelling, to keep the right emotions on the right spot, but have nothing to do with the build in the relationship!

What are you working on next?

Pff… the hardest question. Everything and nothing 🙂 I am cooking some stuff, but would prefer not to say anything at this stage. When they are done I will share fo’ sure!

Holey Wholly Holy 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.

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