In her new video for the song ‘We’re Good’, Dua Lipa is the glamorous singer performing at a cruise ship restaurant as diners choose live lobsters for their meal, which are then cooked and served. The video’s decidedly surrealist mood (lobsters and Dalí do go hand in hand, after all) plays with perspective as the camera shifts between a wistful Dua Lipa and the lobster itself. Soon disaster strikes the unsuspecting diners as the ship begins to sink, yet it’s a fortuitous turn of events for the lobster, who gets to live another day.
No plans went unturned over the last 12 months and this shoot was no different. Nevertheless, shelter.film embraced the challenge and, thanks to the right creative team, produced a seamless and beautiful piece of work. LBB went behind the scenes to find out more.
Dua Lipa - We're Good from shelter.film on Vimeo.
First things first, congratulations on a great music video! What were your initial reactions when you saw the brief for this project?
Albert> Well, what would you say if you saw the Titanic restaurant drowning in a frame and lobsters escaping it, all shot on camera? LET’S DO THIS!
And how did this work location-wise? You mentioned that originally it was planned to be filmed in Ukraine, but due to Covid and travel restrictions, the label decided not to fly the artist out. To what extent were pandemic restrictions a challenge when filming this video?
Albert> We were all hoping for an option of shooting the video in Ukraine. It would have given us a lot more flexibility and options. Due to everything that was happening at the time the decision was made for us to find a plan B, which ended up even better than plan A. Together - including Natan Schottenfels, producer of Iconoclast US - we made a logistical decision where all the shots without the artist were shot in Ukraine, and all the ones with Dua Lipa, in the US.
Our production designer, Misha Levchenko, was the head of art on this project and made a general sketch of the restaurant. It was built fully in Ukraine and only the back wall of the set was replicated in the US. So, all the shots in the direction of that wall were done in the US with Dua Lipa. The rest, which was the biggest part, was left for us, including all the restaurant shots with actors in period wardrobe, lobster/hero sequences, kitchen, huge pool where most of the underwater shots were done and two smaller pools with miniatures for drowning shots.
You used a local production designer and local directors. What was your experience of virtual production? Was this the first time you had to do a virtual shoot and if so, were there any specific processes in place that facilitated it?
Albert> Vania & Muggia were the amazing directors on this job and they were both present on the shoot. Good thing it’s two of them, which allowed us to shoot two units simultaneously - that worked out very smoothly. V&M already worked with our production designer, Misha Levchenko, in the past and loved it, so there were no doubts that they wanted him to make this one too. Misha did the whole look of the film, including the restaurant sketch, full build and a perfect replica in miniature.
Nowadays, almost every shoot we produce we then stream for the agency and client; they don't attend the set in person. We’ve done it a lot over the past year, gaining a lot of experience in the process, so it now works perfectly smoothly.
What can you tell us about the casting process? How did you find the actors?
Albert> Casting is always key, and this project was no exception. Ukraine has a whole host of strong actors. Moreover, V&M’s past experience in Ukraine meant they already had in mind some actors they’d met in previous casting sessions but didn’t have a chance to work with yet. We received a detailed list from the directors describing how each table at the restaurant was to be portrayed with people, their characters, origin, and other details. This approach worked amazingly for us working and we suggested actors for each role.
A big issue was wardrobe as it had to fit each character and match the period. Gala Sokolovska, our stylist, got the perfect looks by working with local costume warehouses, creating some pieces and parts of wardrobe from scratch, and bringing many of the costumes from Prague.
And is that a real lobster?! If so, how did you find such a great lobster to be the star of this video?
Albert> Most of the shots were done with a mock-up lobster we made in Ukraine with the SFX model making team. For the part that was done on camera, our hero lobster and his friends were real, lived their regular lives at the aquarium, and were not specially trained for the shoot. We love nature and try our best to take care of it.
While we're on the topic, why lobsters, do you know? What's your interpretation of this song and the video's message?
Albert> Good one! Well, we believe there could be many personal interpretations, but the idea was to recreate the experience of the Titanic through the eyes of a lobster, destined to become someone’s dinner, though the tragedy is ultimately spared. It’s always good to analyse experiences from different perspectives.
What's your best memory from working on this film?
Albert> Oh… water… a lot of water! This film and the whole process of the shoot was probably one of the coolest. The best memory is definitely when we were finally drowning the miniature and it worked - perfectly.
What was the biggest challenge on this project, and how did you overcome it?
Albert> Timing and schedule. It was very tight as always for this kind of work and number of tasks. Also, the amount of material needed to be shot during a limited number of days.
We’re quite used to working over the line and delivering on a tight schedule, using a little bit of magic. This project made us use a lot of it!
Looking back, if you could do one thing differently, would you? And what would it be?
Albert> Surely bringing Dua Lipa to Ukraine! That would be a lot more fun and give us more flexibility on all the sets we produced for the film.
Finally, any parting thoughts?
Albert> Got a project with a lobster? Give us a call!
Production Service NY
Production Service NY: Walter Pictures
EP: Lia Mayer-Sommer
Line Producer: Courtenay Johnson
VFX: Vania Heymann and Tal Baltuch
Color & Title Design: Tal Baltuch
3D Production: Yambo Studio
Rig & Lobster Animation: David Beran
Lighting & Shading: Yambo, Nemanja Ivanovic Additional
VFX: Cinnamon vfx
Sound Design: Shlomi Attias
Storyboard: Maayan Shinar
Edited by: Gal Muggia and Vania Heymann
Choreographer: Charm La’Donna
Assistant Choreographer: Alex Clark
Commissioner: Katie Dolan
Director rep: Hands London