GREG BARNES TALKS THE BEACH - TEXT LUKE TIERNEY
Music video has become the place to shine a global light on the infinite corners of the world to explore. We've been to many a shore yet never before have we seen the sun shine on the waves in Acapulco. COMPULSORY + Greg Barnes have graciously taken us, and the world, to a divers haven to see how their spirits and adrenaline combine. 'F off I'm not doing that' diving in essence... It's the emotional touches that offset an engaging video, humanising the obvious entertainment. Greg's a world away from the gritty 16mm aesthetic we've seen before but slickness comes in his stride as another pocket paradise is discovered. We caught up to find out a bit more about the divers, the locations and what it was like shooting in extreme heats. Word Is Cheap: Did you know about the divers before coming up with the idea to shoot divers? Greg Barnes: When I heard the track, ‘Geronimo’, there was, for me, this overriding sentiment of a leap of faith - and I decided to run with it. I began researching diving cultures around the world, and when I came across these divers of Le Quebrada, Mexico it felt like a natural fit.
The sense of webbing a narrative is essentially why I got into filmmaking, and it’s such an attractive aspect in music videos; this format where the only real limit is the track duration
WIC: What drew you to working with divers? GB: They represented so aptly the concept of this ‘leap of faith’ that I was looking for. There’s a very authentic drama to the jumps; they have to patiently wait for just the right size of wave to roll into the cove - it’s only then that the water is deep enough to dive into. They’re aware of the risk at hand, they pray to a shrine before they leap, and yet they do this daily; that lifestyle and passion really drew me to them. WIC: The touching moments seem incredibly real, how long did you get to spend with the divers to get to know them? GB: Our time with divers was actually pretty fleeting - as the shoot was produced from the UK with the aid of producers and fixers in Acapulco, we were only in Mexico for a chaotic few days. The time we spent with them seemed almost inconsequential however, as from the moment we met them they welcomed us like friends and really got on board with the project. When you’re shooting for such long days crews quickly begin to feel like families and they were very much part of that. They were above all so genuinely passionate about what they do, and were excited to jump for us, and try out new things like throwing the powder paint. WIC: Where was this shot? How did you decide on the indoor location for the performance? GB: We shot in and around Le Quebrada in Acapulco, Mexico - which is famed for being the home of these divers. It’s a beautiful place. When putting together the video in the design stages I wanted to place George (The Beach), in environments that felt suited to the geography of the rest of the video, and I also wanted to emphasise a sense of vulnerability - and so the image of him as the lone occupant of some distant hotel room began to appear in my mind. Incidentally the indoor scenes are filmed in the ‘Tarzan Hut’, at the Los Flamingos Hotel, so called because it was built for Johnny Weissmuller, who played Tarzan in a string of films throughout the 30s.
WIC: When there’s a mixture, do you prefer shooting the performance or webbing a narrative together? GB: I think they’re both enjoyable in their own right - and I embrace the challenge of intertwining the two. There’s something special and exciting about forming a narrative though - it’s where you can really let your ideas fly and realise a story or image in you head. The sense of webbing a narrative is essentially why I got into filmmaking, and it’s such an attractive aspect in music videos; this format where the only real limit is the track duration. WIC: What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome? Were there any happy accidents on set? GB: The largest obstacle was really just time. There was only so much time the divers could grant us when they weren’t performing in their public shows, which take place several times a day. We had to operate fast, and without compromise, and sometimes it would mean shooting one dive and then scrambling with all of the kit (including an essential and heavy coolbox of waters), to another vantage point to shoot the next. Add in the added element of just how hot it was in Acapulco, and you had one tired, sweaty crew. For the shots of the waves crashing against the sea break directly in front of George, we headed to a lower part of the cliffs where we’d seen the waves breaking constantly throughout the shoot. Typically, as we set up and readied ourselves, the waves simply weren’t coming in. Light was fading fast and so were our hopes of getting this shot that we wanted so badly in the can. We were just about facing defeat when two enormous waves approached, and we got them both; pretty much as the last light of the day faded. That was the final shot and a perfect end to the shoot.