Up All Night is the latest single to be released from Beck’s new album, Colors, which is out in October. The video is a wild ride through a debauched party, which ends with some supernatural surfing on the roof of a car.
It was directed by Canada, the Spanish directing collective behind previous wonders for Tame Impala, Phoenix and many more. Below, we talk to them about the challenges they faced making this latest film.
CR: How did the video come about? Did you pitch on it or did Beck (or his people) come to you?
Canada: We’ve received the song from Beck’s people or Kevin, the commissioner (can’t remember) and pitched on it. There’s always a pitch. Apparently, the song had been wandering around for a long time searching for the right treatment, we got lucky and got the job awarded.
CR: Can you explain the video’s narrative?
Canada: It all goes around a teenage girl dressed in a chrome medieval armour running across a sometimes absurd house party as if she was crossing a big battle. At the end of this small war, she grabs a drunk boy (passed out) laying on a pool table, and runs away with him.
Canada: If you want to go deeper into meanings and characters, we can. For us, she is a tragic figure, a junkie, that wants to prevent her little brother from becoming something like herself. She breaks into that house to take him out of there and save him. She stops on the way to have her dose and get the necessary strength. After that, she sort of becomes a killing machine that no one can beat. They escape into the wild. She is a bad ass car with him surfing over her.
CR: It’s nice to have a female hero for a change – was that a big part of the story for you?
Canada: We actually thought it the other way around. It was a boy saving a drunk girl. But when we sent the treatment, their only note was if we could change roles and make the knight be the girl. Very good note, we all thought instantly. I think it makes everything much more interesting. Being less clichéd the characters get edgier.
CR: Where and how was the video shot?
Canada: The video was shot in Barcelona. Three long days and one night with our very usual crew, which is the greatest gift we can ever think of. Shooting with the people that know you best makes everything so much easier and fun. I actually enjoyed the shooting as ever. Is hard to remember another shooting with everyone as focused as in this one.
The hard part was the pre-production, as usual. Finding the right place to shoot and getting there in time. We needed a big place with several large rooms joined together. The main character was going to run throughout the whole place and the camera needed space to get the speed too. Our art director César Martínez did an amazing job fixing up an absolutely turned up place that we found. He built every room and dressed every single inch so we could really shoot any direction we wanted. Also, finding Solene [the lead protagonist] was the best thing that happened in the video. Not only she is the coolest and did everything perfectly, also she did all the running and jumping with the armour for very long days, without a single complaint and the prettiest of smiles.
CR: How did you create effects like the inside of the girl’s body and the guy surfing on the car?
Canada: Another great part of the crew: the post-production team from Mathemathic, in Paris. They did an amazing job making the visual effects that you see in the video (and others that you don’t see). They are very creative and so reliable. We worked very closely with Yann Aldabe, sharing references for the inside of the body and found out we were thinking of exactly the same visuals, so it was a very easy process.
CR: What were the biggest challenges? Did anything go wrong on the shoot?
Working with a lot of extras is always difficult. And very slow. Once you have the shot ready to shoot, all the lights, the action, the camera movement and the right timings, the extras come in and you have to start over. If you don’t design the extras’ movement and actions, normally they stand there killing the shot. Especially when they are so close to the camera. We like to be very precise on what they do, so the process becomes quite long.
Other than this, the biggest challenge was to put everything together in very little time. The set, the armour, finding the right girl … they all were major challenges. And also the shoot itself. A lot to shoot, and quite complicated, in four days.