South African creative collective Bring Back Choirboy decide to capture downhill skateboarder Decio Lourenco racing against a Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG Edition One. The result is this beautiful piece of monochromatic cinematography. I asked director Luke Apteker a few questions about the making of the film.
How did this film come together? Was this an idea you just wanted to see realized?
My friend Cale Jansen and I both work in the film production and photographic industry and we have always managed to pull of passion projects on the side. We have predominantly been interested in shooting stuff with an extreme nature and decided to take it to the next level. To help our vision come true we decided we should create a branded film. And the brand that worked perfectly in this instance was Mercedes-Benz.
How did the collaboration with Mercedes-Benz work? We're they involved in the actual production?
Mercedes-Benz have taken a new direction with their image to be a little more lifestyle oriented. So in this case our direct line of contact was a friend of mine, Dylan Culhane with MB Life, which is a subdivision that caters for exactly that. We pitched the idea and they agreed to fund it. My company Bring Back Choirboy handled the entire production from shooting to editing and finishing.
There are some visually stunning shots in the film, my favorites being the two shots starting at 1:47, with the skateboarder going into the curve in slow motion, followed by the car. Were most of the shots storyboarded or pre-visualized in some way, or was there a lot of room for improvisation during production?
We had a few meetings leading up to the shoot where we were all throwing ideas around of what would work the best, but to be honest the 1st time we actually did a test run with Robbi and Decio (driver and skater) was literally a day before the shoot. But as soon as we saw the flow and connection on the road between the two we started having a better idea of what we wanted. We shot listed the big moments that needed to be covered in the film, like the hairpin shot that you mentioned, and obviously intro and ending, but a lot of it was getting a feel for it as the shoot progressed and it happened to turn out just right.
It looks like a lot of different gear was used to get the shots you wanted: a Phantom, a RED Epic, GoPros, DSLR time lapses, an aerial camera... Did you have all of this gear and expertise in-house, or was this a collaborative effort?
Bring Back Choirboy is basically a collective of super talented people that I got together and Silver Slipstreams was a perfect debut job to pull it off to show people what we are capable of. We had Dean Engela and Tommy Gunn from Darkwing on the drones, Karl Shmidt on the Phantom, Cale on the Epic, Rory Allen from helloiamrory on the timelapses and it all came together in harmony to produce something pretty special.
The location you chose works really well for this story. How did you go about choosing a suitable location?
We had a few ideas where to shoot but I had my eyes set on Franschoek from the beginning. It is just so epic and beautiful to shoot on. But at the same time can be very unforgiving. We had a constant battle of weather, shooting in between rain spells and gusts of wind. It literally goes from windy to sunny to freezing to raining all in the space of an hour. Battling the elements aside getting permits to shoot there is no cheap and easy task. We did have to close off the road for safety reasons and everything worked in our favour in the end.
Which aspect did you enjoy most about creating this film?
The energy on set. It was such a crazy idea that we had no idea if it would work, but we had such committed and amazing people all doing their part to make this film happen. It was something really special that i would never forget.
What were some of the biggest challenges you ran into?
You would think that the biggest challenge and concern would be to not get the skater and the car to collide, especially on those tight corners, but Robbi and Decio formed this relationship where they could sense each other's movements on the road and really connect and descend in concert. But in the end it all boiled down to getting the timing right. We had to slingshot Decio in with a scooter most of the time to get him going the right speed for where the cameras were set up. But we had radios and with good communication and direction we were able to pull it off.
What would be your next dream project? Think big, it could be anything.
We are already in discussion on the next project we can do with Mercedes-Benz so trust me, you will have something to look forward to. But I really want to keep having this progressive approach with my team at Bring Back Choirboy and to keep pushing the envelope with what we shoot and what our attitude is in this forever evolving industry.
Thanks for taking the time. I'm already looking forward to your next production!
Always a pleasure!