Irina Alexiu directs ‘The Will’ for Valeria Stoica.
A contemporary fairytale.
Filmed in Bucharest, Romania.
Words from Irina below.
Irina, you describe this music video as a contemporary fairytale, can you talk about that?
In my work, femininity played an important part – from female friendship to simply documenting womanhood.
I wanted to visually portray her growth as an artist, her ‘becoming’.
When Valeria approached me, she gave me complete creative freedom – which, needless to say, I always appreciated. I was familiar with her music but I also knew she wanted something different, so after listening to the track several times, I started to envision the mood. When working on a music video, I let the track guide me.
With the risk of sounding cliche, I wanted to visually portray her growth as an artist, her ‘becoming’. I wanted to stay in a conceptual area, so I picked two very different locations (forest and brutalist interior) that reveal different parts of the story. When Valeria is in the forest, she is surrounded by three girls with arrows, representing different instances of herself, her inner saboteurs. She ends up taming them, connecting with them and eventually moving in sync.
There’s a subtlety in the film’s approach that compliments the song, was this intentional or discovered?
From the beginning, we wanted to do something that would enhance the look of 35 mm. The truth is that I didn’t have much time to come up with the concept and tailor the script. I would say that in the end that played out to our advantage, as sometimes I tend to go back and forth trying to perfect an idea, risking losing the momentum.
You need to really listen to the track, go beyond the lyrics and the rhythm, and use it as a soundtrack.
Valeria’s music is somehow timeless and comforting, but this new track had a little darkness to it, so my ‘director brain’ wanted to capture this on camera. You need to really listen to the track, go beyond the lyrics and the rhythm, and use it as a soundtrack. I wanted to have slow camera movement, slow characters movement, sometimes both at the same time.
I would say that most of the choices we made were intentional, with a few exceptions that were either discovered or had to be adapted due to some of the challenges of filming on 35mm.
And what was it like working with 35mm?
I filmed on 16mm before but never on 35mm- this was my first time. Mihai Schiopu, the DOP, had the film rolls (Kodak Vision 3) as part of his dissertation project. We were aware of the challenges of shooting on film, this is why we discussed the storyboard several times before we started filming. The fact that we had a relatively small number of shots to film did help a lot – we were realistic in terms of what we can achieve.
During each shooting day, I usually leave some time to go ‘guerilla’ with the DOP and the actors – a lot of good things come from spontaneity and improvisation on the spot. But for ‘The Will’, this wasn’t really possible – every shot required rehearsals, we barely did any takes and any tiny changes required new preparations.
Also, not being able to go home and watch what you filmed on the same day was challenging. But then the joy of watching the footage for the first time a week later was worth it.
Did you work with a choreographer, how were the movements and still compositions devised?
We didn’t involve any choreographer, Valeria was the one who came up with the moves. However, we did share a lot of references.
Complement the visuals with movement: either dance, staging or diegetic movement.
I believe that when you’re directing a music video, since there is no linear narrative nor dialogue, you should complement the visuals with movement: either dance, staging or diegetic movement.
What are you reading at the moment?
‘Real Life’ by Brandon Taylor.
- Irina Alexiu
- Mihai Schiopu
- Director of Photography
- Dima Litvinov
- That Thing
- Production Company