ESNAF aka Jovan Todorović and Đorđe Peševski understand aesthetics. In previous promos the cast always stand out and Astronomyy’s ‘Not Into U’ is no different with fiery orange hair calming large striking features in our mixed up lead. Undertaking a one shot on a beach left a lot to chance or perhaps it is equally fair to say an opportunity was taken, one which many may not have considered. With the pressure on ESNAF knew they could rely on their cast (thank you casting expertise) and create their as-expected aesthetic in this touching moment of intimacy.
With the end result so smooth we had to find out if the rest of the production process was, where Astronomyy fit into all of this, and just how they picked Amanda Smith.
Word Is Cheap: Of course we want to know, how many tries did it take to get it right?
ESNAF: The one we used is the last take we shot. There was an attempt at 5 or 6 takes. It was a race against time, and in the beginning it seemed we’d never get it right. In the first one her foot got caught in the sand, in the second he messed up his actions, then the zoom failed on us, and so on. The last take is the second one we rolled until the end.
What were the biggest difficulties with doing a one take by the sea?
It’s such a risk doing a one take when you know you’re gonna run out of light and there’s so many variables like the actors not hitting their marks, the extremely slow zoom not matching up with the end frame, and so on. On top of this shooting by the sea has it’s own challenges.
The big issue was the gap of time that we had to actually do it. We had to wait for the tide to clear up the beach and actually give access to our crew to get into position, but also for the actors to have where to move around. That was around 3:30pm in the afternoon, and at 5pm in December we’re already out of light, so we had about an hour and a half for everything. This included setting up the camera, framing it and blocking it accordingly.
It was quite windy and we had to play the music really loud, but then we also had to yell through the megaphone so we could adjust the actors blocking according to the constantly moving frame.
Then there’s the zoom which comes with its own set of difficulties…
How preplanned were the timings of the interactions?
It was quite precise. Through the process of casting we basically got to explore possibilities and moments that occurred amongst the talent. Then we worked out the movements quite precisely on a random LA parking lot. We spent a lot of time driving together around LA discussing everything, and then we would stop to nail down certain questions that arose. So yeah, we had a pretty good idea of the movements. On the day of the shoot we rehearsed by the production base, so we would be ready for the small gap of time we had for the actual shoot. Of course things change when you have the actual frame and distances at hand, so we had to react quickly and solve some minor issues last second.
There are still details we’re not happy with and that we could’ve done better, but overall considering the circumstances and risks taken, we’re quite happy.
You often cast what look like models did you opt with actors on this occasion, did you know they’d be able to nail it?
Brandon was the best out of the males who attended the casting sessions. There were wonderful girls who had serious acting skills, but for us the key moment in the video is the close up in the end and the few frames of the girl looking directly into the camera. It’s an emotional and contextual ending which is important for us. It’s the moment where the long zoom makes a functional justification for its existence. This is where the form and story finally become inseparable.
We saw Amanda on some photos and were really inspired by her face and eyes. She was traveling and we weren’t sure if she could make it, but when we heard she was up and ready for our video, we chose without hesitating, or actually casting her. This is definitely tricky, as you really have no idea of what will happen when you get to set, and we already had so many risk factors. But, as soon as we explained the idea to her, she just took a few steps back, stood in profile and then turned towards us with that gaze we were in search of. It was exactly what we wanted.
Were Astronomyy a part of the process at all?
Well, we talked on the phone with him last summer. He expressed a wish to work with us. He was quite inspired with Jovan’s photography and we wanted to make something that would resonate with this. He also had an idea for another song that would be a one-take video of a girl on a beach. So in that sense he was quite a part of it even if he wasn’t on set or with us in post. We think the crucial thing is Astronomyy choosing our sensibility and finding himself inspired by our work, and letting us be inspired by his work.