You don’t have to wait for the spaceport, something else is taking off in Cornwall! We’re talking about the band Haunt The Woods, who seemed destined for the stars. Their latest video, Supernova, steps beyond space into the world of fully-formed sci-fi.
We caught up with director Billy Abbott to find out the how’s, the why’s and the what’s of the film. Supernova shares some of the elements of the Haunt The Woods’ Elephant video: evocative images, powerful colour and a sense of mystery. But the filmmakers explored whole new technical, emotional and story-telling spheres for Supernova.
D&CFilm: Why did you decide on the sci-fi theme?
Billy Abbott: The scale of the meaning of the song and its anthemic nature I felt would be matched by a grandiose aesthetic. It’s important to keep evolving the band’s visual style, so I settled on a character-driven concept using art direction and locations to drive the abstraction and world building. The video was in pre-production for a long time to nail down the concept and production elements due to the nature of producing a sci fi video on a tiny budget.
I’ve been an enormous sci-fi fan for a long time (tasteful ones I promise) and since hearing the song for the first time I knew I wanted it to be sci-fi, but budgetary constraints were a major issue. This took all of my resourcefulness, I wanted a challenge and knew going in that this would take a lot of energy and resilience to make (and I now owe multiple favours to a variety of friends and colleagues!). Filmmaking is a constant learning journey and if one isn’t striving to improve or learn then there’s a risk of losing what you love about it in the first place.
D&CFilm: Where did you film it?
Billy Abbott: This was a 4 day production shot across Gwithian Beach and Tehidy Woods for exteriors; and Enys House, Maker Studio and Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre for interiors. I’d love to give a huge thank you to CAHC, who were not only extremely welcoming but run one of the most fantastic displays of vintage aircraft I have seen in the UK. Truly a treasure trove.
It’s not often you get the opportunity to film on a jet and it was a wonderful experience. The initial concept was to build a sci-fi cockpit but it swiftly became clear that this simply wasn’t achievable on a low budget and would require a lot of manpower, resources and time.
D&CFilm: There’s some beautiful imagery and great use of light – where did where did you get the ideas and inspiration?
Billy Abbott: Thank you. Ad Astra (DoP Hoyte Van Hoytema) was a huge inspiration for me, as well as First Man (DoP Linus Sandgren). Both of them present an isolated and personal perspective of a spaceship and the loneliness of being in space, it just so happened that this style is inherently more favourable for a low budget production due to not requiring any time-consuming establishing shots or relying on green screen elements. The manner in which Brad Pitt’s character is presented in Ad Astra is extremely introspective and invasive which complemented the abstracted narrative we were intending to produce.
I decided to concept the video with a view to creating distinctive scenes each of which were built from my desire to explore elements of cinematography. I think the strength of the video comes from a passion to explore and experiment which was felt within the crew at absolutely all times. The excitement was palpable, and my fantastic crew and cast were keen to get involved in something that we said from the start was going to be a huge challenge!
D&CFilm: Can you give a quick run down of the narrative?
Billy Abbott: The narrative is quite purposefully abstract at points, focusing on world building and mystery. But at its core it’s a representation of an event which causes wholesale change in someone’s life, in this case an event which causes her loved ones to have aged or time to have been manipulated.
Supernova’s core theme is an event that changes your worldview, you look behind you to see a very different person or vision, you look forward and see both the light of the new world and the dark of the lost time. There’s a bittersweetness in this that I very much wanted to explore and represent.
D&CFilm: Thanks Billy!
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