French directing duo Truman & Cooper caught our attention earlier this year with their striking films for Kid Wise and Son Lux. They return this week with an equally gripping video for Rag n’ Bone Man. We talk to them about how it was made…
Truman & Cooper (who picked up the Best New Director award at this year’s UK MVAs) seem to have cornered the market in telling stories filled with passion, longing, and violence. This new video, for track Hell Yeah, is no different, featuring a dysfunctional family whose tragic story, while told in a stylised way, features performances that are compellingly real.
We caught up with the directors over email to ask how this video was made, and find out what their future plans are…
CR: How did this video come about? What inspired the idea?
T&C: We wanted to tell a story talking about a conflict between a dad and his kids in a kind of road movie. We wrote the script first thinking about shooting it in real locations but we felt it was too classic and repetitive with what we’ve done before. We decided to work on a concept based on a minimalist set to really attract the attention toward the performance and to make the story more iconic. Of course, we had the film Dogville in mind but we also thought about the work of land artists like Robert Smithson or Richard Long.
CR: Your videos always include great performances – how do you work with actors?
T&C: We definitely always need time to really connect with the actors but the way to work with them really depends on the project. We really adapt to the people we are working with. For Hope, the actors were all amateurs but they were real friends and above all super excited about doing a film. We spent a whole week with them and became really close. We tried to make the shoot really fun and challenging, like a huge game. For our Son Lux video, we worked with a former couple. To really take avantage of their complicity, we sometimes had to take time to talk about their own story to find the authenticity we wanted.
For Rag n’ Bone Man, it was different because we decided to work professional actors. We were lucky to have such a brilliant cast because on that shoot we had less time than for our previous videos so we needed the performance to be perfect in a really short amount of time. Plus, they came from London to Paris just the evening before the shoot so we didn’t have time to rehearse anything at all. We were confident because the three of them made a really good impression during the casting session so we just had to push them as far as we wanted in their performance while we were shooting. We often speak to them or shout while we shoot to really push them. We drove the sound engineer crazy.
CR: When did you first start working together? What makes you work well as a duo?
T&C: We have known each other since high school. We spent a lot of time doing films for fun and playing music together but we decided to work seriously on films and started as Truman & Cooper something like two years ago. I think it works because we go back such a long way. We really know each other and share the same sensibilities.
CR: How would you describe your style of filmmaking?
T&C: We like to tell stories and above all to convey emotions. We are always trying to find original and personal ways to do it. It’s often a good balance to find between realism and style. But we don’t want to stick to a style. We always try to progress, to develop and explore new things but keeping stories and ideas at the centre of it all.
CR: What would you like to achieve in the future?
T&C: So many things! We want to continue to find new ways to tell personal stories and emotions through commercials and more music videos. We also know we want to work on features and have a short film we are working on getting the funding for at the moment…. We also want to explore other fields: probably coming back to music and thinking about collaborations with some artists we like…. (We’re really obsessed with Arca & Jesse Kanda right now!)
Truman & Cooper are represented by Colonel Blimp and Wanda Productions