I don’t think I was fully prepared before watching Feedz’s (aka Lucas Fiederling) music video for Space Chaser’s Remnants of Technology, an ambitious sci-fi opera which sees the German thrash metal band transported into a space cantina à la Mos Eisley from Star Wars. It’s a wonderfully bonkers video which continues Fiederling’s longtime collaboration with the band, and is possibly their largest project yet. The director and his crew pack each corner of their set with bustling alien life and twisted sci-fi scenery. It’s truly an impressive delight and DN was lucky enough to converse with the director about the challenging journey his crew faced in bringing it to life, discussing everything from frantic location hunting to capturing the chaos of Space Chaser’s electric live sensibility.
How did you first come into contact with Space Chaser and what led to you making videos for them?
Well, in 2013 I relocated from Barcelona to Berlin to leave my skateboard-filming career behind and get deeper into the narrative filmmaking world. So an old friend was visiting Berlin and asked me to join him for a Kadavar show in Berlin’s infamous SO36 club. Space Chaser were the opening band and we both loved them so much we didn’t even remember anything from the Kadavar show, since we talked about Space Chaser all the way through it. Then somehow we ended up at the after party where I met Siggi, the singer.
I didn’t remember this the next morning though as we got pretty wasted. So as we were talking about Space Chaser again suddenly my phone rang, and Siggi was on the other end saying “Hey man, this is Siegfried, you said you’ll make a music video with us!” So we did, and I’ve done every music video for them so far. It’s always a great creative outlet since the band members are super cool, open for ideas and all the madness I put them through every two years when there is a little budget in their band’s cash pot again.
Who developed the initial concept of the band being transported to an alien bar? What inspired it?
It was obvious from the very beginning that someday we’d need to go to outer space. I mean they are a thrash metal band and called Space Chaser, it just has sci-fi written all over it. Siggi writes very cool lyrics on these topics too and I love it. We never had any budget though, so I avoided it in the first couple of videos. Then for their last video for Waves I wrote the cantina script, at least the main story of it, but then realised with the budget we had back then it wouldn’t be possible to make it the way I wanted. We did have that ongoing theme of the Space Chaser Brew though, a green drink with dry ice resembling a sci-fi version of a very typical Berlin liquor called Pfeffi. So I decided instead of going to the bar in another galaxy where it’s served, we’d go ahead and explain what the drink is made of. Obviously: Predator blood. If John McTiernan can shoot a whole movie in a jungle, well then we could definitely shoot a music video like that.
I mean they are a thrash metal band and called Space Chaser, it just has sci-fi written all over it.
So to give the band something to hunt with we decided to put all the money into renting a tank for a day. We did 80 shots in two days of shooting all run-and-gun style in the forest. With me both being the editor and VFX guy too, I could quickly decide what shots would work. Anyways, it was always in the back of my head that we had to get back to that cantina script eventually. So three years later I finally took it out of my desk drawer again.
What was it specifically about Space Chaser’s music that you like to convey with your videos for them?
The way they write their songs, the often sci-fi related topics and the fact that they are just the best new thrash metal bands, if not one of my favourites of all time, made me want to make a video that can live up to that.
As usual with fast songs I was a little worried about the pace, which is something you often want to match in the edit as well. But I told my Editor Tim Plaster from the start that I believed we could mix long shots and slow scenes with fast paced sections, since I had done that for Waves as well. So my DoP Konrad Losch and I came up with the plan to get Trinity/Omega Operator Jörg Schenten to help us out. We wanted to get a cinematic feel and show off our skills too, which we tried to do with all the longer shots. A good example of this is the intro bug flight, which required a lot of planning and blocking actors. In the end I wasn’t sure if it would actually work without cutting the long takes into smaller chunks, but luckily it worked out great in my opinion. A fine line to balance, as with so many things in filmmaking and life.
How did you approach that cinematic look of the video? What camera/lenses did you use and why?
We shot on Alexa Mini simply because I own one and it was a great way to save money. At some point I decided it would be too much to shoot and direct simultaneously on a project of this scale and got Konrad on board. Until then I wanted to shoot on cineovision lenses since I love their look. But Konrad was against the cineovision idea immediately, and for good reasons, because they are ancient and have a lot of flaws on top of their weight. And as much as I adore their look, Konrad was right about how they limit your composition options since they are only really sharp in the center area. We would have lost too much of our set and costume details, so we ended up going with Cooke Anamorphics. I wanted the special flares version, but they were all rented out. In the end I’m happy that we have that cleaner look since we can really show all the amazing stuff that was going on around our set. There was nothing to hide this time.
The set design of the bar is insane! Who did you work with on that and how challenging was to transform your location into this intergalactic space?
The set design was one of our highlights by far. Hannah Siegfried and her crew made the impossible possible. I had written the whole cantina video concept because I had shot a comedy show at this other venue in Berlin years ago that was already decorated in that Mos(h) Eisley style. Of course when I approached them three years later, they told me they had changed the bar’s concept to a minimalistic style and thrown all the old design elements away. Hannah told me we’d be able to recreate it though. So I started building everything in 3D, lighting it up in cinetracer and made the first storyboard tests as I was writing more scenes. We also had a tech recce with the set design and lighting department to measure and plan everything. Then ten days before our shooting date the location cancelled because they had the opportunity to transform the location into a vaccine centre and make a lot of money back which they had lost during lockdowns. So here we were, everything and everyone booked but no location.
Hannah and her team had to build the walls, the practicals over the tables, the bar, the stage, basically everything you see.
We all started searching for a new place, which was very complicated since no one would give us such a good deal as the old place either. On top of that Easter holidays were coming up that weekend so it all came down to this very last option we had, a dark basement that hadn’t been used in over 20 years under a famous Berlin club. We had decided if on that day by 6 pm we didn’t have a location we’d have to cancel the project for good and shoot a different video in time for Space Chaser’s fixed release date for the song. We were only able to go scout the location at 6 pm though so we told everyone we’d give them a final decision by 7 pm. So Hannah, Konrad and myself went there and we didn’t even have a laser to measure things or anything. We just stood there in this cold, wet basement with a ceiling way too low for the lighting concept we had planned and we had to make a decision fast.
Hannah measured things with her arm span, Konrad and I came up with a different approach of lighting and bringing it ‘through the windows’ even though there were no windows. The walls you see in the video, with the ventilator/fan in them and all the cool metal stuff, they weren’t there. Nothing was there basically. Hannah and her team had to build the walls, the practicals over the tables, the bar, the stage, basically everything you see. Additionally, I was out with my friends of Neulandt van Exel building the sci-fi shuffleboard since I wanted that casino corner. All the cool looking steel tables and chairs we were able to borrow for free from another venue for which I had shot a freebie project to support them during lockdown.
That sounds pretty intense. Similarly though, the hair and makeup are straight up Star Trek! How did you find developing your own monsters/aliens?
That part was very fun! I mean, at some point it was also overwhelming and I was really over it after some weeks. Starting every day with hours of scrolling through contact lens options, makeup ideas, costume additions and also matching that all with the scenes I had written and rewriting them according to whatever costumes we were able to get. Luckily my creative producer and 1st AD Candela Catarsis was there to help me from the start.
Originally I had planned to use a lot of animatronics, but all the options were really outside of our budget. In the end we did a combination of cosplayers we found online who brought their own costumes, self-created creatures with cool outfits, masks we ordered online like the barkeeper or lots of makeup like the green lady, and a lot of cool costumes and masks that our friends over at SmirkMasks put together. Finally, our Costume Designer Alba Gador, who did costume design for a film the first time, made sure it was all taken care of and put together properly. She was basically alone during the shoot and was in charge of 50+ costumes made up from different pieces and orders. I still don’t really know how she did it and at the same time dealt with me coming by every now and then to tell her: No this is not good, change this, I wanted this makeup for the other costume, etc.
They say you shouldn’t do more than 15 shots a day on a big set. Well, I had 25 scenes I wanted to shoot each day.
Given the massive ambition of what you set out to create and all the challenges you faced, how do you feel looking back on the shoot with the result of what you achieved?
I would’ve actually loved to have got at least a few more scenes done that I had written. There was still a lot of cool Star Trek, Rick & Morty, Alien, Predator and drunk-Jedi scenes we didn’t manage to get. Mainly because we had to make sure to let go of the whole lighting and set design dept on time on the second and last night of shooting since they all had big commercial jobs to go to early the next morning. It was clear once I started making a shot list that there was no way we could shoot all of it. They say you shouldn’t do more than 15 shots a day on a big set. Well, I had 25 scenes I wanted to shoot each day, consisting of a lot of shots each. And we had our friend Jörg Schenten there to shoot Steadicam/Omega which was gonna take quite some time too. So we decided we’d focus on the most important scenes to tell the story of the band arriving in the bar, the whole intro and outro sequence etc. and then just get as much of the other ones as possible. In my dreams I would’ve loved to have another verse in the song filled with little stories and only towards the very end switch to the chaotic vibe. In general the number of challenges was intense, especially since we only had 14k budget.
Looking ahead now, what will you be shooting next?
I’ve been running around doing little TV camera jobs or live streams to try and get my finances under control after spending a lot of our own money on the Space Chaser project. I got to direct a music video for German rap artist NURA with my friend Wizzl recently. We shot and released it during pride month. It’s about the sexual objectification that’s been going on in the music industry and we shot a fun colourful pool party. We did a second video for Space Chaser too, for their song The Immortals. It was a very rushed thing with no budget we had to do on the same weekend we shot the intro scenes in the countryside for Remnants. So, I wouldn’t call it our best work but it’s still a fun song and sci-fi themed, with some special effects I did myself since our VFX guy James Barry was busy on another job.
Sadly our good friend and Executive Producer Bastian Loewen passed away in a skateboarding accident recently. He’s the father of the little country-girl at the end of Remnants, and she’s kind of like my niece. He was also my partner in my company Peregrine Films. So it’s all still very overwhelming and very sad, while we are all at least happy that we got to do this last project together since he loved thrash metal and Space Chaser. Life goes on though, and right now I just hope I’ll get to direct more music videos, while DP’ing a few commercials here and there to help make a living simultaneously. I will also be DP’ing a sci-fi feature film my friend David Lichtenauer will direct, but as of now we’re still in the very first steps of the project.