I’ve noticed the kind of film, book or in general art that I enjoy most are the ones stay with you after you finish watching them, reading them or when walk out of the gallery. The kind that pushes its audience to think because they are required to project their own imagination back into the piece and try to fill the gaps. For Cassy’s ‘Back’ I thought there would be a good opportunity to explore this kind of approach, and make something that doesn’t try to be too artsy or outsmart the viewer, but something that would just give an impression of what it’s about or what it could be about. But most importantly it should be engaging to watch at the same time. I think it was also a massive help that Cassy and her manager Ben from Insanity were very much after something not mainstream and that we were working together very closely. This is a rare occasion in the music video world.
In terms of the look I was constantly going back and forth between 16mm film in colour or black and white and in the end what made up my mind was when I asked myself what I would prefer watching it again in 10 year from now. The answer was pretty clear then and I chose black and white. I really wanted to give the film a photographic look, almost as if it was something out of history book. So Nicholas Eriksson our director of photography came up with the idea of shooting it on Double X 16mm film stock which is not very common and not often used these days. We also used a low shutter angle throughout the film to avoid motion blur, and this helped to keep the actions very crisp and photographic. This was another great idea by Nick. I think it really made the film look great and exactly how I imagined it. It works best throughout the struggle and violence scenes. The other thing that I think separates this video from anything else I’ve done or been involved in before is how simple I wanted to keep the shoot. We shot everything handheld, not a single steadicam or tripod shot. No light set up. Everything except one shot was shot on 14mm lens and we didn’t even use any slow motion.
The cast were really great too, almost 90% of the dance performance is completely improvised and all of it is inspired by what the cast performed in the audition. My brief was to think of a situation that could make you very sad, angry or happy and express it out in your performance. Anything but sexy stuff. Daisy Smith our choreographer did a fantastic job on guiding everyone, and prepping them for the shoot.
I had a thought that constantly came back to me on the shoot day and I mentioned it to a couple of people over drinks after we wrapped. I was constantly looking around at everyone running around asking me “is this the lense we should use?”, “is this the kind of performance, make up, location you want?”, etc and I was constantly thinking, wow, there’s not a word to describe how a director feels when everyone is there to just make sure your vision gets executed. You tell people weird shit like, “I don’t care about the continuity, about the changes in light or weather (rain, cloudy or sun), let’s just keep shooting”. You ask people to do weird stuff in front of the camera, and the answer is always: “okay sure”, even when they probably think you’ve completely lost it. That trust means a lot. I honestly don’t think there’s a word for that, I think ’trust’ or ‘support’ just doesn’t cover it. Whatever it is, without it I would have never been able to make the video it is today and most importantly I would not have enjoyed making it as much as I did. So thanks to everyone involved in this, it’s been a blast!’
– Reza Dolatabadi
Producer ALASDAIR MITCHELL Executive Producer FRITZI NICOLAUS Cinematography NICHOLAS ERIKSSON Editor DAVID HIGGS Production Coordinator FRANZI NICOLAUS 1st Assistant Director BARBARA NANNA
2nd Assistant Director ANDREA FACHINETTI Choreography DAISY SMITH 1st Assistant Camera ANDREW BRADLEY 2nd Assistant Camera JULIAN SHARMA Camera Trainee CATALINA VELEZ Makeup Artist LORENA CARMONA Runner HARRY PROSSER Colourist TOBY TOMKINS Grading Company CHEAT Lab CINELAB
Director REZA DOLATABADI Production Company RUMBLE
ANNIE BROBBY YVONNE CAMPBELL MOLLY O’DONNELL TIPPY ELGAR GEORGINA EZUANYAMIKE
YANA LYAPUNOVA LEVINYA PAGE-KRAMER FAY MIARI CRISTINA MASSARO LORA MIRCHEVA
RACHEL LIN KATIE-ROSE SPENCE