RINGAN LEDWIDGE TALKS MASSIVE ATTACK - TEXT LUKE TIERNEY
Isn't it lovely to see Ringan Ledwidge making music videos. This is a man that has built an empire through commercials and returns to remind the music video world that simple ideas executed by a strong team leads to memorable work. It's not an easy feat, something many a "commercial director" has tripped up upon having not respected the hurdles that come from within our industry. Ringan however most definitely has.
Bringing Rosamund Pike on board now seems like the obvious thing to do (hindsight's a lovely thing isn't it) so we asked Ringan how he came to make the right choices time and time again.
Word Is Cheap: Had you missed making music videos?
Ringan Ledwidge: I’ve always loved making music videos as it’s a chance to fully express yourself. So yeah I have missed it. I’ve not avoided them purposefully its been more about the stars not aligning so when I the Massive track came in I thought, ‘time to make those fucking stars align again!'
Working with a brilliant actor means as a director that you can really achieve and sometimes even surpass your aspirations for a project
WIC: What came first: cast, idea or location?
RL: The idea came first. It was one of those rare ones that came in quickly and very clearly. The track is so atmospheric that it really conjured various images in my head and certain references from my youth. Next up was Rosamund. She’s such a great actress and a bit of a chameleon. I have to give her a huge amount of credit, it was a brave thing to take on, she committed a 110% and knocked it out of the park. Location came last. I always knew I wanted it to take place in some kind of public subterranean space. And when the location shots for the ‘Joe Strummer’ underpass came in I knew that was it. It almost felt like a set of the future designed in the 1970’s. I loved the bright colours and feel as it wasn’t the colours or lighting you’d associate with a dark tale. I didn’t want anywhere for the viewer to head and somehow it seemed perfect for that.
WIC: Had Rosamund Pike worked with such extensive CG before? How did you prep her for working with an invisible partner?
RL: I’m not sure if Rosamund has worked on something so reliant of CGI before but if she hasn’t you’d never know.We talked a lot about the orb and what it was doing to her. There’s a very clear arc to the narrative which is important for the story and for her as an actress. She goes through a real journey and she immersed herself in that. I think that’s why her performance is so captivating.
WIC: To what level were her movements choreographed?
RL: Very. Rosamund suggested a wonderful choreographer and movement coach called Scarlett Mackmin, whom she worked with before, and we spent a couple of days together working through the story.
WIC: What does working with a brilliant actor mean to you?
RL: It’s incredibly inspiring. Working with a brilliant actor means as a director that you can really achieve and sometimes even surpass your aspirations for a project.
WIC: With bold colours and poses, was the fashion scene an influence at all? If not, what was?
RL: The fashion scene wasn’t a direct influence as such. The location as I explained was chosen as I felt it was nicely at odds with the idea.. With Rosamund’s dress I wanted something that somehow felt timeless and slightly out of place. Natalie Humphries my Costume Designer is a bit of a genius and came up with something based off various vintage dresses we’d looked at. It’s also pretty hard not to put something on Rosamund and for it to not look cool.
Horror movies of the 80’s were an influence and leaping off point for the idea. The idea is about modern technology and it’s grip on us. For whatever reason a movie called ‘Phantasm’ and a fantastic movie called ‘Possession’ came to mind when I listened to the track. They were films that left quite an impression on me in my youth. I guess they’ve been floating around in my mind since then.
WIC: There's a slight sexual submissive undertone, was this intentional?
RL: I definitely wanted the piece to make you feel different emotions. Sexual tension being one of them, The idea is about the allure of technology and how technology has been made sexy. We desire it. But ultimately it’s benign until we engage with it. I guess some of us become submissive to it and allow it to rule our lives and perhaps that comes through.