Marking her third collaboration with Polish rhythm and blues singer Natalia Przybysz, Ogień from Director/Visual Artist Ania Bajorek captures the frivolity of youth in an entrancing series of frozen tableaux where the only movement comes from the slow circular progression of the camera. A music video homage to the work of photographer Justine Kurland, Bajorek explains how drones were an essential production tool for her motion photograph concept and the challenges that posed on a windy set.
What inspired this motion photograph concept?
The concept came from my photographic background and fascination with American photographer Justine Kurland’s photography project Girl Pictures 1997-2002. She photographed teenage girls as vagabonds exploring city outskirts – these are large format photographs. The song is inspired by a true event – a political murder that occurred in Poland in 2019. The idea of making teenagers characters of the video was favoured by Natalia.
Being a teenager is being the best possible self. When you’re young, your life is full of possibilities – oneself seems to be undefined. As we grow older the possibilities narrow, we chose some actions over the others, we become more and more defined. Our characters – teenage girls and a boy are at this exact age. Kurland’s photographs were a direct inspiration, so I consider this project a kind of a tribute to Girl Pictures 1997-2002.
I decided to work with the idea of photography as a medium that freezes an event in time. A photograph is always shot from a single point of view. I wanted to work with this idea and describe the photographed event with movement – this is how the idea of circular movement of the camera came up. We use the same circular movement in all the situations.
Were there any initially conceived scenarios which became impractical once you decided to shoot with a drone. Likewise, what possibilities did the drone cinematography open up for you?
The equipment set up was the hardest part of preproduction. In the beginning, before scouting, we were considering a few types of drones, a quad and a Ronin. Scouting showed us that a drone would be the best option in most locations. We were also very lucky to find part of our “nature” locations during those tests outside of Warsaw.
I decided to work with the idea of photography as a medium that freezes an event in time.
We had two shoot days. The first day we were lucky enough to have no wind but unfortunately, on the second day of production we were shooting in big wind. The drone was impossible to stabilize so we used the Ronin. We also had to use the Ronin during shooting our last scene because of the rain.
I think the whole project was a drone challenge. Normally you use a drone in a few shots and the drone department prepares during the day to shoot. This time it was all about their work – every shot was their work from the first to the last. We were on location, the batteries use up very fast, and you have to fight with the wind. What I would change about our setup was the camera. We shot on a Red Dragon with old Cook Speed Panchro lenses and we had some delay on set because of it. An Alexa would have been more compatible with the drones we used.
This is your third music video with Natalia Przybysz, how did your creative partnership begin and what is it about each other’s work and collaborative processes which brings you back together?
Natalia called me a few years ago and asked me to direct the music video for her song Miód and Niebo. We went on a crazy trip to Sweden where those two clips were shot on a very low budget but with passion and freedom. What I really love about our collaboration is that she is a mature artist and she considers a filmmaker to be an artist as well, she is open for one’s creative process. I appreciate that she doesn’t want the video to be a direct illustration of the song. The image should add another layer of meaning to the song.
What new projects do you have waiting in the wings?
I’m currently looking for female characters for my documentary, I also have a few ideas for new music videos which I would like to shoot.
Ogień 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.