ADVENTURES IN FILM : CLOWN CONTROL


THE SHOOTING GALLERY 
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SPANISH


 

So, my dear friend and long time Studio Murmur collaborator / producer Serena Noorani (she's also a damn fine photographer, check her work out HERE) decided to pay me a visit. I warned here there was a video which could happen when she comes out here and asked if she'd be down to produce it if it happens. I got a big YES. So Serena essentially came out not knowing if she would have a holiday, or be fully flung into a video being shot in Bolivia, for a band in London, with the label in Australia, with the edit happening in London, the colour in Chicago, and the money going from Australian dollars to US dollars to Bolivianos. Guess what happened?

A nightmare ensued with scheduling in which three different time zones had to communicate, including currency conversions and more. Needless to say Serena smashed the ball out of the fucking park.

A very nervous Nayeli on her first ever acting scene.

 

I met the lead actress in the video, Nayeli, during this government video job, the same place I met Franco, the Naughty Boy kid. She had really impressed me with her acting ability and how well she listened to direction, so Nayeli and Franco both came to the casting for Naughty Boy. She was incredible! So much so I nearly rewrote the video to have them both in it, but it just didn't work. I kept her in mind though and when the idea arose of a vengeful birthday kid when listening to the Cloud Control track, it had to be Nayeli. I didn't bother to test her out at all as I had never met such an intelligent kid her age nor one with such natural acting ability. So, when I wrote out all of the lyrics from the track in phonetic Spanish, she managed to learn them in just a few days. The rest of the cast were sorted by our casting director Monica Soliz. It's hard to cast in Bolivia, so working with her was a dream. She dedicates herself to casting and so has a huge database and knows it inside out.

A few days before the video was confirmed, I got a call from Alvaro Manzano, an excellent director here in Bolivia. Alvaro was interested in collaborating on some work, and after meeting with him and Serena, we were both very excited at the prospect and decided to co-produce the video with his crew Color Monster. They are usually dedicated to post production, but you would not have guessed from the production. It was incredible to see such a fantastic crew at work, one which had such similarities to our own at Studio Murmur in terms of their work process. And so we started...

 CREWDEM!   (esto es slang para equpi Luis, asi que, "El Equipo!" tal vez mejor)

 

We just about scraped the budget barrel to afford to fly Sy Turnbull out, an incredible DOP and good friend of Doug Walshe who wasn't available for this one, also part of the ex-Farnham massive. I was rather anxious as I only ever shoot with Doug, but Sy went to our university and I knew him from there, so there was already a shared history. On arrival we force-fed him coca leaf tea, which warded off any altitude sickness and we started to recce. Sy also brought me a massive pot of Marmite, much bigger than the one Serena brought me, so he was in my good books from the get-go.

We went to the death scene location and walked around, working out what street we would shoot in. "Clip, clop, clip, clop." A white horse stood behind us. This wasn't in the middle of the countryside, it was an urbanised area, but this white horse had walked up to us and started eating weeds from the roadside. We stood in awe as it carried on down the road. Apparently some horses are treated like cats and are let out and stroll around for food and walk back once satisfied.

Why the long face?

 

Another location we had to sort out was a police station, and a working police car. In the UK you would be laughed at for the request, even with a budget to pay for it, simply due to the script content which they have to check sheds a positive light on the force. But here, how did we get it? How much did it cost? A football trophy. That's correct. Ferdi, our wonderful location manager managed to swing us both the cop shop, and the car (with two cops who attented to look after the car) in return for us buying them a trophy for their staff football match. I love Bolivia.

There was a time though we thought we wouldn't get all this as some big protests kicked off, but they still let us use their facilities despite there being miners in the city centre blowing up dynamite and two police having been kidnapped. We shot amongst them getting suited and booted outside the police room we were in.

Fucking love these guys, excellent actors, Luis Zamorano and Fernando Peredo.

 

Talking of blowing up, we had to explode some confettii out the back of the runaway clown, so we went to see ‘El Chino’. This literally means ‘The Chinaman.’ It seems to be a not that unconventional nickname here as a lot of Bolivians have very similar features to that of Chinese and Japanese, and El Chino looks just like Jackie Chan. He started out as a gaffer with little money and had the idea to do a sort of collective with other gaffer friends of his; to buy their own lights as back in the day they were always rented from outside of Bolivia. They weren't all keen on the idea so he started up on his own, with just a couple of lights. He then got some Kinos and slowly built up his gear. He's now THE go-to guy go for lights and grip, as he has a huge collection. El Chino is even building Bolivia’s largest studio, it's immense, you can fit a few lorries in there. It's incredible to see a guy who started with a couple Fresnels go on to owning the largest shooting studio in Bolivia in the space of a few years. He's also the go-to guy for effect work such as gunshots and the like, so he sorted this out for us. What a guy!

The view from Bolivian Express' house. They are an english language magazine out here, top journalistic work in La Paz, who completely sorted us out with opening their house to us.

 

I woke up with butterflies, as usual, on the morning of the shoot. An incredible director  and dear friend Kimberly Warner (check out her debut short "CPR" HERE) recently shot her next short film and wrote THIS excellent piece about that feeling in the morning before a shoot. In part it was because we were starting with a chaotic kids party, but it went surprisingly well, with the kids behaving and misbehaving when asked to. Nayeli was incredible throughout the shoot. I don't know what Nayeli and Franco's parents did, but they have brought up two of the most incredible kids I've ever met.

Yamil Del Villar our 1st AD helping teach a kid how to drink.

 

The shoot went great, Sy smashed it, as did the rest of the Color Monster crew. We had fun times and went over schedule, as usual. Serena flew back with the drives, managing to dodge any food poisoning in Bolivia but decided to eat Ceviche in Miami airport. This gave her a highly contagious and extreme bacterial infection which knocked her for six and forced to her to stay in hospital there.  Serena wasn’t allowed to board a plane for five days, screwing Gaia Borretti once again on an international edit. Sy got pretty ill on return, Nayeli caught a bad cold which lasted for a good week, and I got a stomach and urinary infection meaning I had to take antibiotics for the third time in 5 months!

The video came out to a hungry audience here in Bolivia due to the success of the last two videos, so I felt quite a lot of pressure. It went down very well though, phewwwwwww.

Double chin.

 

I recently signed to Wanda which I'm very excited about, so it will hopefully mean trips back to London for projects. I miss London dearly. Next up will hopefully be another music video shot here based on a dark urban legend I heard when I first came, for another Australian band. I'm also writing two feature films, one with Varun Raman and Tom Hancock (parallelmadness.wordpress.com), two very talented writers from Manchester, and the other with long time collaborator and general genius Dobrina Manolova. Let's see if we can make an F word.

 

WORDS: IAN PONS JEWELL

PHOTOS: SERENA NOORANI


 

CLOUD CONTROL | DOJO RISING | DIR: IAN PONS JEWELL