OSCAR HUDSON TALKS BONOBO :: QUESTIONS BY LUKE TIERNEY
Ah Oscar, we've been expecting you; although maybe not in such ridiculous Oscar Hudson fashion. If you think that this was all done in-camera then you can start to understand what a feat it actually is. Forget that it's aesthetically pleasing on the eye as straight lines follow line of sight down the mind-bending road that is perception. Forget that. It was all done in-camera! Clever trickery and conceptual mastery have always been Oscar's weapons of choice, now matched with exquisite execution... We can't wait to see what's next! In the meantime to help get your head around Bonobo, we asked Oscar a few questions. Just to clear things up.
Word Is Cheap: Do you feel this video perfectly represents who you are and what you stand for as a music video maker? Oscar Hudson: Ooof. Straight for the jugular. I don't think I can answer this with a straight 'yes' cos otherwise I'm done & I'll have to retire now... I think it's better to say that the video has a number of formal and stylistic qualities that I'm interested in as a filmmaker and that I want to continue to be interested in as I make more music videos. I like minimal structure, coherent conceptual ideas, detailed set design, inventive ways of using cameras and reality bending physical effects... so yeah this one checked a fair few boxes!
I’m not sure many other DOPs and Art Directors would spend entire hungover saturdays in B&Q trying to find the perfect frictionless combination of lino and carpet.
WIC: Was the edit as meticulously planned as the technique? OH: The film actually features a total of one single edit... in the smallest room right at the moment the camera pulls back, and whilst we knew that this was going to be the joining point between the two shots- the actual execution of that edit ended up being slightly differently to how we planned. Better actually. We were going to do a lights out thing but when I got it in the timeline it was clear there was no need.
WIC: Why did you decide on Japanese culture references? OH: When I first wrote the idea for the film it wasn't attached to a particular culture or aesthetic. It was a more ambiguously human metaphor for feelings of containment and increasing psychological pressure. But as conversations about set design & the space's aesthetic began picking up I learnt about the Hikikomori, who are these young Japanese people who are almost pathologically housebound and who spend years and years without leaving their rooms. It fit so well with the physical metaphor of the film that I was totally sold on it. Also the Japanese pollution mask that the character wears was a big help in obscuring all our actors faces and making them appear more alike. Then beyond that, it worked on a number of practical levels too. The floor level furniture suited our low camera angle. The minimal and right-angled interior design was good for scaling down our props and simpler for room construction. Even the traditional windows and flooring helped hide our lights and dress in our little sliding floor dolly we developed. Not to mention I was in Japan for the first time whilst the video was getting commissioned and was feeling pretty enamoured with the place. There were too many reasons- it was just the right thing for the film.
WIC: How important to you has been working with Ruben (DOP) and Luke (set designer) for such a long time in coming up with an idea like this? OH: Vital. We're all really close friends and I'd been talking about various forms of this idea for a long time with them before it finally got commissioned- so we'd done a lot of the technical thinking for the project in advance. I'm not sure many other DOPs and Art Directors would spend entire hungover saturdays in B&Q trying to find the perfect frictionless combination of lino and carpet. What's more I've never done a project where the various departments crossed over so wildly. The success of the grip system we designed depended entirely on how smooth Luke & co could lay the floor and then Ruben was having to rig his camera to the scale of the smallest doorways... So every decision was a dialogue that would then of course ripple down the set x18. So yeah, it definitely helped that we're all really good friends and that we actually like talking to each other.
WIC: With some of the sets potentially the size of a camera body, did you know for certain you could pull the idea off? OH: The camera and set were very much interconnected so the plan was always just to make the smallest doorway as small as we could make our camera rig. And in any case I was pretty open to how we achieved the idea so pulling it off could have looked a number of different ways. At one point I had thought about using sewer cameras that are designed to go down little pipes. That would have been a cool lo-fi thing but quite different. Of course you have your doubts and fears, especially when you starting getting into unchartered waters with a technical idea but I was quietly confident from the outset. Though once we'd done our tests I stopped worrying and just got really excited cos it was just clearly working and then I could focus on the set design and narrative and all the other bits that make a good techy idea into a proper film. WIC: Once complete, in hindsight, would you have done anything differently? OH: No Regretz.