The rhythmic, modern stylings of Ela Li and the flowing vision of DN alum Director Diana Antunes coalesce beautifully in the More Maria produced music video for Choradeira, which sees a human figure wandering through the city at night, battling her inner demons and wearing a dress that seems to be falling apart. The dress in Antunes’ video is a manifestation of pain however and the parts of it we see falling off come to life and return to this figure, never leaving her alone. It’s a poetic video that is impressively photographed, capturing the warm low light of an enveloping evening. DN caught up with Antunes to have a chat about the video, discussing everything from the rapid turnaround of production and post-production to the creative decisions that went into designing the intricate, voluminous dress that would be crucial to the story.
How did you come to work with Ela Li? Were you familiar with her prior to the project?
This collaboration happened through an invitation from the artist Ela Li, Rita. We didn’t know each other; she had just finished her first album and had some money saved to make her first music video. In a first phone conversation, she explained the concept of the album and its construction. Each song spoke about a feeling; Choradeira was about pain, about the tiredness of carrying sorrow with us.
Right from the start, I empathised with Rita, and despite the minimal budget she had, as it was her first release and individual investment, I decided to accept the challenge. Through the will of a team and several favours, we moved forward with production.
And how did you take what Rita had told you and create a narrative from it?
The idea for the clip came while I was listening to the song on a loop. I imagined a human figure walking through the city and leaving pieces of pain along the way, hoping to empty itself of it. But because we can’t control the time that pain inhabits us, these pieces come to life and claim the place that belongs to them, stubbornly chasing this figure until they fully contain it.
I wanted to convey the visual idea that these pieces were layers that were released from Rita’s body.
The end of the video envelops almost as a contradiction, I personify pain in a human figure wearing the skin of a garbage collector and he is the one that ends up freeing himself from pain.
I wanted to ask about the use of clothes in the video, as it feels so connected with the concept of leaving behind pieces of pain. Could you take us through the creative process behind the wardrobe?
The wardrobe would play a key role, I wanted to convey the visual idea that these pieces were layers that were released from Rita’s body. I imagined her in a long, voluminous coat, and as it moved, she would drop pieces of organic fabric around the city.
Each piece should represent a different part of Rita, a specific pain, and therefore the dancers’ looks should be similar but with various aspects. I wanted them also to have a fluorescent tone that connected these layers to the garbage collectors’ costumes, but that didn’t immediately reveal the relationship. The initial idea was to work the dancers with a juicier look, a more naked body covered with pieces of fabric, but for reasons of execution, we had to rethink something simpler.
How long were you shooting at night for during production?
Due to budget constraints and a small team, we had to shoot the music video in a single night and adapt many of the scenes we had initially imagined to something more straightforward in terms of execution.
I noticed that you’re the editor on the video too. Does that affect how you approach shooting? Do you work on the edit immediately post-shoot?
We ended up shooting very close to the delivery date, which meant that I had to edit it the very next day. I always edit my projects and I love this process. I feel that editing is part of the creation process. However, I always like to have a few days between filming and editing to assimilate the idea that there were things that did not go as I had imagined so that when I sit down in the editing chair, my mind is free and not stuck on the initial idea. In this case, it was not possible due to the calendar limitation. Still, as with everything, you turn around and find a new path, letting go of what you initially had in mind and finding new solutions.
Each piece should represent a different part of Rita, a specific pain, and therefore the dancers’ looks should be similar but with various aspects.
What provoked you to shoot Choradeira in a 4:3 aspect ratio?
The reason why I decided to shoot in a 4:3 aspect ratio was mainly to give a feeling of enclosure, which represents the idea of the music video, helping to create this visual idea that the artist is trapped in her own pain and that everything creates a tightness for her.
How did you collaborate with your dancers? Did you create the choreography or was that an aspect they brought to production?
Filipa Peraltinha was the choreographer. At first I structured the times in the music, defined the way each dancer appeared and then Filipa choreographed the blocks. On the day we had to adapt some parts that weren’t working so well on location and add some freestyle blocks. I think the biggest challenge Filipa had was the little rehearsal time, especially with Rita the artist, who had to interact and dance with the dancers and had no experience at all.
And to round out, what can you tell us about anything else you’re working on at present?
I’m currently finishing a script for a fiction film I want to shoot next year and I’m going back to Palestine in a few weeks to finish filming a project I started a few years ago in Jenin Refugee Camp.