An enigmatic blend of the music video and the arthouse film, Eclipse is a unique audiovisual experience courtesy of the Gasser Brothers – last seen on DN with visceral underground boxing short Beloved Stranger. Featuring the music of the Dutch group Weval as interpreted by Dancer Yao Dapre Nicol, aka Oulouy, it takes us on an oddly beautiful journey across the desert that reflects on man’s place in the world. We talked to the Barcelona-based Swiss brothers about finding the right tone for their distinctive experiment.
Tell me the inspiration behind the movie?
Once a year we like to make a personal passion film. It’s important to make something you really enjoy. Not just commercial work. We really enjoyed the butterfly scene from Dallas Buyers Club, and wanted to develop something in a similar kind of way. We also knew that we wanted to make something related to the impact of human actions on the environment. Another inspiration was definitely the music from Weval. Two of their tracks feature in the short.
We were listening through those songs and thought they worked very well for what we wanted to tell. And a lot of the time inspiration comes from such simple things as having a shower and listening to those songs and developing things in your head, slowly trying to find different sequences and how to match them together. It was a bit of an experimental film too. We had a lot of things really precisely developed but a lot of other stuff was just more improvised. Especially all the dancing. That’s a thing we enjoy a lot; it can come out bad, but we like to see how things develop on set and just go from there. Of course we have a shot list but sometimes these magical moments just happen.
It’s important to make something you really enjoy. Not just commercial work.
The film takes place in the desert. Is this one near Barcelona?
It’s in the Monegros desert, two and a half hours away from Barcelona. We first wanted to film in another desert called Las Bardenas Reales which we thought looks better but it’s like five hours away. It was just impossible in terms of logistics and production. Then we found this place by accident on Google Maps. A few years ago a rave party happened there and some random guy posted some pics from that location. And as we wanted to have this vastness but also these small mountains where we could film from, this location was perfect.
What’s the language being spoken during the film?
This is Yoruba. It’s a language spoken in certain parts of Africa, especially in Nigeria and Uganda. We didn’t know from the beginning that we wanted to have an old lady speaking Yoruba in a soft voice. Originally we wanted to record the voice of the actor but we thought it would be much better if the message came from like Mother Nature. Then we wanted it in English, but it’s hard to find an English-speaking African woman in Barcelona. We met this lady with the perfect voice, but she didn’t speak good English so we ended up deciding to make it in Yoruba. Now we actually prefer it.
How did the VFX for the butterflies come about?
That was a hell of a trip. We knew we wanted those butterflies and knew it had to be done in UV effects. It was a bit of a challenge. All the preparation for filming and knowing that we would have to introduce those butterflies was new for us. So we actually had one guy that supervised filming on set to make sure everything worked. And it just got trickier and trickier, so at the end we had to start everything again from zero. We had 19 butterfly shots but we had to change everything when we had six or seven halfway done. We collaborated with a post-production studio from Barcelona called Studio 84. It was just perfect to be able to work everything out with them, because special effects are ‘very’ time-consuming.
These scenes are intercut with stock footage. Where did you find it and how did you think about cutting it into the movie?
The stock footage was something we knew we would like to introduce from the beginning. We looked at several stock footage pages and found this guy called AV Geeks. Real footage shot on 16mm film, 8mm film, everything you can imagine. And as we wanted vintage footage to give the film a historical feeling, it was exactly the footage we were looking for.
So you work not only as a duo but also as brothers. What’s this like?
It’s the best. We’re not just brothers, but twin brothers. We don’t even have to talk to each other when we’re on set. We can just feel what the other is thinking. It’s just a natural connection, which helps a lot. There are these brothers fighting with each other all day, but we’re definitely not that kind.
We don’t even have to talk to each other when we’re on set. We can just feel what the other is thinking.
Was one of the most difficult challenges the desert heat?
Actually, we shot it at the end of October last year so temperature-wise, it was perfect. It was actually cold in the morning, then it got a little hot during the day but not like the typical desert heat you’re imagining. It was actually important to make it possible to film everything before winter because then we would have to wait until March or April 2020. Now thinking back — with the whole Covid situation — we were lucky.
What are you working on next?
We have several small projects we are working on with medium size brands. But we still haven’t entered into a production company yet. So now we are working on video clips to show them what we’re capable of.
Eclipse 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.