DN recently joined filmmaker Iacopo Carapelli for a intriguing conversation about his branded short You’re On, the latest campaign spot from global brand Ray-Ban. We were taken by Carapelli’s frenetic camerawork and grasp of potent imagery and when we saw another one of his films in our submissions we knew we’d be in for another visual treat. The short, this time around, is a music video for Caterina Barbieri and her song Broken Melody. It’s a beautifully crafted and contemplative film which metaphorically represents the journey of the creative process visually through a portal into an abstract plane populated with picturesque imagery. DN caught up with Carapelli again to talk over his collaboration with Caterina Barbieri, how he matched her sonic sensibility with equally dynamic images, and the feeling of ecstasy that motivated him through the production process.
How did your working relationship with Caterina Barbieri begin? Did you pitch a concept for a video to her?
The whole piece was born as a collaboration between Caterina Barbieri and Ruben Spini. They had initially put together several references and concepts. I have to say that this is the first time I’ve worked on a music video where the artist has already set a concept in place that actually works really well.
Caterina Barbieri conceived her album Spirit Exit, which Broken Melody is part of, during lockdown. I believe that this experience allowed her to detach herself from this feeling of seclusion that we all experienced. This is why the video was meant to represent the metaphor of the artistic process, a portal towards an abstract world made of contemplative imagery leading us towards a feeling of ecstasy.
There’s such a distinct visual language in the video and the shots are beautifully composed. Did you approach the video as a strong visual interpretation of Caterina Barberi’s sonic sensibility?
We started collaborating from the point of view of the mise-en-scene: styling, casting and shooting techniques. With regard to the interpretation of the sound and lyrics, I focused on that feeling shared throughout the concept, aiming to highlight the contrast between being still and our internal movement, somewhere between letting go and feeling ecstatic.
Together with our DoP Giuseppe Favale we pushed ourselves to use super slow motion. Even though it isn’t easy creating rhythm with this technique, we were convinced that it would be the right interpretation of the sound. The track is composed of several musical layers and it wasn’t easy to just focus on a specific one. Sometimes, for example in the scene of the levitating guy, the sound was interpreted through the upward movement of his actions, the shooting technique and our editing.
And for your performers, was there a specific approach you took to casting given the particular look you were going for.
As far as the casting and styling are concerned, we preferred to work with people who were part of this world. The aesthetic of the pieces is inspired by the oeuvres of Bill Viola, who would include in special settings characters belonging to our collective imagination. Once we nailed the cast, we met up with the movement director in the theatre. Together with Caterina and Ruben, we worked on the movements and poses to recall paintings and highlight this feeling of ecstasy.
When you’re shooting something as abstract in narrative as Broken Melody does that change how you plan the video across the various stages of production?
As is often the case with passion projects, I personally managed the pre, production and post. Even though we received a well-developed concept, I started to prepare a treatment straight away, trying to respect the concept as much as possible while figuring out how to manage the budget. From the treatment we realised that the shooting had to be split into two parts, one on location (caves which I had previously checked out personally) and the other in a theatre. The second step was to come up with the sketches. We also looked into which materials reminded us of the location, which we then used in several areas of the theatre.
We worked on the movements and poses to recall paintings and to highlight this feeling of ecstasy.
We started shooting the part of the tableau vivant in the theatre, a stunning shoot. To be honest I didn’t think we were going to shoot so much and so well. I spent the days after that part of the shoot converting files in Phantom to then focus on the selection while planning the shoot outdoors. When that day finally came, it felt light, but at the same time the location ended up being very satisfying. At that point we were all super excited about all the footage and that’s when the real editing started. I have to say that after three weeks of editing, which included feedback from Caterina and Ruben, I needed to have some clarity. So I called my dear director friend in London, Elena Petitti, to give me a hand. All in all, after a whole month, we had our final edit. Working on a passion project takes up a lot of energy, but I must say that it’s utterly satisfying.
What kit did you use during production? Were there any specific movement-based pieces of equipment you used to achieve certain shots?
For the most abstract shots we used a Phantom Flex4k. The majority of the shots are fixed to highlight the internal movement of the scenes. Only in a couple of instances did we move the fisher to modify the dimension during the action. For the cave scenes we used a Red Komodo on our legs, as we had run out of petrol.
How familiar were you with Caterina Barbieri before making the video?
I had the pleasure of getting to know Caterina Barbieri during a documentary piece for Club To Club in collaboration with Gucci. It was a short documentary piece looking at the open rehearsal of the Forse Ora project, composed of Lorenzo Senni, Caterina Barbieri and Jim Nedd. It wasn’t at all a standard project; it was actually quite experimental in its approach. On top of that, shooting during a live piece with an audience is never easy. A few months after this project, Caterina reached out to me to talk about her new album.
Given your ambitions for the project, was it a challenge balancing your expectations with the realities of the budget?
As is often the case, anything to do with budgeting is a challenge. It’s just that when you care about the project, you really try and push yourself from a creative point of view and this often has to deal with the reality of the resources available. It was intense, but I’m very satisfied. I was involved emotionally and I’m very happy with our result. I hope you were also engaged during the viewing!
As is often the case with passion projects, I personally managed the pre, production and post.
And how long were you working with her in total across the making of the whole video?
We started with the creative part in January and it took longer than expected. My ideas, as well as Ruben and Caterina’s, were very clear. But due to organisational and budget issues we had to rewrite some scenes several times and we also lost some along the way. All in all the creative and pre-production part took about four months. On the other hand the shoot was very quick, one day in the theatre and one outdoors. As far as the editing is concerned, we are probably looking at two weeks and several timelines.
You mentioned this project when we last spoke. Can you tease us with anything else you’re working on at present?
Unfortunately, I can’t share what I’m working on at the moment. But it’s exciting.