Jaroslav Moravec directs ‘Bylo Nebylo’ for Annet X
Words from Jaroslav below.
Where did you start with building a world for this?
The idea for this world stemmed from my personal experience. I spent a good part of my childhood summers in a summer cottage house called “Chata” in Czech. They are magical places, old and colourful. Having a secondary house somewhere in the countryside is fairly common in Czech Republic and has been an exile for previous generations, escaping the oppressive communist regime in the countryside. Nowadays it’s as popular as ever and Czech landscape is littered with small cottage settlements. I have been scouting the oldest settlements, built before WW2 and then in 50’s and 60’s. A lof of them have been untouched and are still with the original interior decor, a music video dream location.
The playfulness of the 50’s and 60’s architecture was complimented with fairytale-like patterns and designs. Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton films, and even Brothers Grimm fairytales were references. I wanted to bring a darker, broodier atmosphere to the story to balance the beauty and sweetness of the main character.
What can you tell us about the characters and the casting brief?
I have been always fascinated with outsiders and they have been a subject of my films from the very beginning. I find these strange characters show human folly and tragedy almost immediately. I started imagining all sorts of different characters that can show what life can do to adults. I was looking at street photography and comic books for inspiration. We started pretty ambitiously with maybe 20 characters, including animals, naked people and even a random guy with a piece of wooden board nailed to his head. But then inevitably we had to scale things down to fit into three shooting days.
I have been always fascinated with outsiders and they have been a subject of my films from the very beginning.
The lead girl is called Valerie and she’s an amazing young woman who made the video shine. She stayed with us on her own, shoot pretty long shooting days with a smile on her face. Looking back at the experience, I wish I could have had more time to develop her character but since this is a music video, we prioritised quantity over quality and just kept shooting. A lot of the shots required precise timing for the camera and actors so we had to run many takes and improvise a lot. Valerie was learning how to run into a tree right on the day and it took us probably 20 takes to get it right.
A big shout out to the casting agency Simonsays who put the cast together and were very supportive right from the beginning.
There’s a distinct visual identity, can you talk about the camera movements and lens choices?
Me and Veronika Donutkova, the DP, wanted to put a new twist on the genre of the fairytale. Early on, we decided to stick to a tripod for a majority of the time but we also wanted to match the energy of the track. Change of perspective became our tool – by deliberately changing the frame throughout the shot we were able to bring an element of surprise. Most stuff is shot in-camera with a couple of whip-pans added later on. We coupled that with a probe lens on a slider and a body rig for an extra dose of unusual scale and that slightly claustrophobic look, getting closer to what Valerie’s feeling on her journey.
Change of perspective became our tool.
We shot on old Canon lenses on Alexa LF and mixed it with a Sony A7 for extra tight corners.
Did you have any particularly guiding images when starting out on this?
It’s funny to realise that I don’t remember much of my childhood. All that I remember is me cycling through my neighborhood, peeking over fences, watching people curiously. I was probably younger than Valerie, maybe 6 or 7. That exaggerated blurry perspective where everything felt bigger and scarier was a silver lining for this project.
What are you reading at the moment?
I gotta admit that I don’t read any book at the moment. Too much other stuff happening in my life right now.
- Monika Kraft
- Director of Photography
- Bistro Films
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