Its always heartening when a director insists on working with us, and the promo for the new Stereophonics release "It Means Nothing" was just such an occasion. The promo, directed by Charles Mehling of LA's Streetgang Films, was filmed in Romania with post production to be completed in the States. Mehling and Prime Focus colourist Duncan Russell had worked together previously on three other promos (including The Kooks' "She Moves in Her Own Way"), and the director, not content with anyone other than Duncan grading his film, decided to make a detour to London to do exactly that.
The promo begins with singer Kelly Jones awakening in a dystopian dream. From a waterlogged room he sees a rogue barrage balloon sailing by the window and glimpses a raging fire in the kitchen. Wandering into a ravaged, war-torn street he sees both schoolchildren and a stray horse running wild amidst the burning cars.
Its dream-like visuals demanded a cinematic feel, so Duncan got to work in one of our Spirit suites, giving the piece a filmic look as though it was being projected from the print. The brief was intentionally contradictory - flat but not flat, saturated but de-saturated. Referencing a book of Polaroids by the great Soviet film-maker, Andrei Tarkovsky, Duncan achieved just this: a look rooted in reality but with a subtle twist.
As the promo progresses, Kelly follows the balloon, moving of its own free will, leading him away from the urban chaos, through woods, to a smoking field populated by ethereal characters in white-robes, beneath a sky filled with hot air balloons. The tone changes from initially bleak and pessimistic to an upbeat and optimistic feel - a change strongly enhanced by the grade. Shoot conditions were perfect: an overcast sky for the first scenes giving the necessary flat light, culminating in a classic golden magic hour for the promo's finale, giving Duncan a good base from which to go to work.
The film was pitched as "mid-Atlantic", envisioned as somewhere between Britain and the US. Shooting on a Romanian film set helped achieve this netherworld feel and, without the specifics of location, likely further cements Welsh-rockers Stereophonics' reputation as an international band. Following the success of this, Charles Mehling will direct the promo for their next single, "My Friends" once again with Duncan grading. Of the director's choice to use him on "It Means Nothing" Duncan says, "It's always great when a client asks for you by name, but when they break their trip from Bucharest to Los Angeles and fly into the country just to work with you, that's really flattering".
Project: Stereophonics 'It Means Nothing'
Record Company: V2
Production Company: Streetgang Films
Director: Charles Mehling
Producer: Karen Lin