Director: Luis Cerveró
Production Company: O
Record Label: La Castanya
Producer: Fiona Vidal-Quadras
DOP: Marc Miró
Gaffer: Dani Verge
The Electricians: Carles Roman & María González
Shot by: Albert Alcoz, Aitor Bigas, Luis Cerveró, Raúl Cuevas, David Domingo, Xavi Lozano, Luis Macías, Fran Ríos, Joel Rojas, Alex Sardà and María Sosa Betancor
Many thanks to: Irene Asensio, Gerson Aguerri, Edu Grau, Zeferino, Hangar, Crater Lab
The first time I saw Aliment live was at the end of 2012, in a very wild concert at the shabby back room of Luchador Records. The atmosphere was amazing, a perfect communion between band and audience, space and sound.
When two years later Joan and Albert Guardia from La Castanya wrote to me to propose I made a music video for one of the tracks included in Silverback, the only thing I was sure of was I wanted to shoot Ignasi, Pol and Edu playing live.
When they sent the album to me they asked me to choose a song. I opted for No Fuzz because it lasted 50 seconds and I’d always wanted to shoot a short and blunt rock and roll video, something that finishes as soon as it starts and leaves you wanting more, like Chris Cunningham’s Sheena is a parasite. They answered that the band didn’t like No Fuzz too much and that they almost didn’t include it on the LP, but in exchange they proposed Razors, which only lasts twenty seconds more.
We met an afternoon to talk about the concept and they said that Razors was part of a traumatic experience in which Edu broke a string during rehearsal and when this snapped it jumped like a whip and cut his eye. The song deals with the physiological mark left by a cut, about the almost unbearable idea of getting a cut in such a soft and fragile place, as is the eyeball.
After thinking about it for a while, I proposed to translate the idea of the cut into a totally discordant visual collage, in the style of a piece impossible to find on the Internet called Something Is Seen But One Doesn’t Know What, by Keith Sanborn. Each shot would be completely different from the previous one, immersing the spectator in a narrative chaos, like a kind of channel hopping with space-magnetic connections. I worked with this idea in mind for a while, and I even met with photography director Oriol Barcelona to discuss how to make this in a free and erratic way, shooting some loose shots every now and then. But time went by and we never found the way to start tackling this; and, besides, the more I thought of it, the more it seemed to me like the videos we’d made a thousand times at Canada: a more or less random associative editing, made to create a rollercoaster of eye candy.
One summer day, while I was shooting a commercial in Bucharest and the technicians took hours to fix again a giant and very fragile Motion Control, I realised that what I had been thinking about was exactly the opposite from what I should be doing. A cut between two shots is not a visual cut because it doesn’t mutilate anything, it isn’t aggressive at all: you simply go from one to the next. The true visual cut is produced when you cut a continuous action. A very obvious thing, I don’t know how I hadn’t fucking realised that before! But, since then, it was evident to me that we had to shoot a continuous action and exaggeratedly split it up during the editing process. I then remembered two references that have been chasing me for years: one is a scene from the unfinished film by Orson Welles The Other Side Of The Wind, in which John Huston and Peter Bogdanovich meet and talk surrounded by journalists and where shots shift between all the different points of view surrounding the action. The other is a Joe Cocker and the Grease Band performance at a TV show called How It Is in which multi-camera direction is based on an at times frantic and somewhat clumsy live edition which helps boosting the highs of the cover of With a Little Help From My Friends.
I sent both references to La Castanya and Aliment and they agreed to the change in direction.
The Other Side of the Wind
With a Little Help from My Friends
What we needed then was finding all the cameras (and operators) we could that were available and would want to come shoot the band playing Razors live. Because another thing that was very clear to me was that, apart from shooting the band, we had to shoot it on film. Why shooting this video on film is not a question we should take into account. The question we should take into account is why all the things that are shot on high definition video aren’t shot on film and are progressively and irrevocably debasing our lives and our retinas.
My first great ally was David Domingo aka Stanley Sunday, photochemical guru and expert on how to fight the shortcomings imposed by capitalism on the use of celluloid. He recommended a place to by the negatives and several (international) labs that still develop 16mm film. Besides, he let us use his two cameras and agreed to coordinate the whole shooting process and general camera logistics.
After many efforts, we managed to get eleven cameras and as many operators, which gave us an idea of the amount of people in the city who still consider film an alive and possible format. Apart from David, other people who came with their own cameras were Albert Alcoz, experimental director and theoretician in charge, among many things, of web site Visionary Film; photography directors Fran Ríos and Luis Macías, 16mm evangelist and founder of collective Crater Lab, that also let us use four of their cameras. We also borrowed cameras from operator Edu Grau and director Gerson Aguerri. And we had as operators Raúl Cuevas, the camera operators Xavi Lozano and Joel Rojas, director María Sosa, Alex Sardá, director and photographer, and Aitor Bigas, editor and drummer with Mujeres and Univers.
The director of photography Marc Miró was in charge of designing the lighting and sequencing of dimmers and strobes. We had a short meeting in which we talked about different works that had a similar play with cross lights. I particularly remember sharing impressions on the texture and lights in Primal Scream’s video Dolls, but we were far from having the resources to use so many lights or to build a similar white background.
In general, everything was very quick, easy and direct. Quite said and done. We went and did it. We chose the Hangar set because it’s cheap and dark, with black walls. All the operators met a while before to distribute our positions while the band set up and rehearsed. We opened the doors and the people that had come to see the band play came in. They played four tracks to warm up the ambience a bit and the fifth one was Razors. Since 16mm spools last almost three minutes and the song lasts 1’10, after three or four more songs they played it again, with an increasingly more festive atmosphere. When we finished shooting, they kept on playing just for fun. In sum, the whole shooting didn’t take more than three hours. It was fun, fast and easy.
When the concert finished I went up to a small room with David Domingo and we recorded images stolen from YouTube with my laptop to include some inserts that made reference to the physiological cuts of an eyeball.
Once the shot was finished, the worst thing was waiting for six weeks to get the developed material back and also synchronising all the images by rule of thumb. It’s a simple and direct music video, with no other pretension than capturing on screen the band’s energy, how beautiful they are, and how fucking amazing their music is.