Music & Sound in association withJungle Studios

Music and Sound and Its Added Value to the Moving Picture

Music & Sound
Amsterdam, Netherlands
An interview with director Nina Aaldering about her passion project ‘Torres Blancas’

It took a little while, but good things come to those who wait. 

Let’s go back in time and revisit the beginning of this year. Friday 18th March 2022, to be precise. On this day, ‘Torres Blancas’ got released to the world. 

This short film alias passion project reflects on the meaning of beauty in our times and was directed by Nina Aaldering. 

MassiveMusic Amsterdam sat down with Nina and asked her all about the idea behind this surrealistic film, the added value of music and sound and how the use of those has changed her musical approach on future projects. 

Q> So… your very own passion project has finally come to light. How do you feel? 

Nina Aaldering> Humbled… and relieved, as it took quite some time to finish. Since it’s a passion project, I took all the time to make it as beautiful as I could. Most of all, I’m super grateful for all the people who joined me on this project. They’ve poured so much time and energy into this film. It truly was a joint effort. Magical.

Q> The film has a beautiful yet surreal and almost dystopian aesthetic. Could you briefly describe what the film is about? 

Nina> The film is about beauty, a subject with a polarising character, shrouded in taboos – which is exactly the main theme of the story. Today, we live in constant conflict with all the possibilities beauty has to offer. It’s never been easier to buy a new face. You can simply choose your beauty now.

Q> What made you make this film in the first place? 

Nina> I’ve been wanting to make a fashion film for a long time, but it’s something you can’t just do on your own. You need models, a full crew, and lots of people for post-production. So you need to have a solid plan and a really good story. All of this scared me so much that I kept postponing it. 

Then, I got to shoot a commercial in Madrid, one of my favourite cities. I saw the Torres Blancas building, fell in love with it and the story just came to me. I wrote a treatment overnight, as I felt it was now or never. I asked the production team if they wanted to stay with me in Madrid to shoot my overnight script. They thankfully said yes, so I booked us all an Airbnb and we shot our film. 

Q> It’s indeed a beautiful building. How did you find it and why did you choose it for this film? 

Nina>  I saw it from a window when I was scouting for another film. I simply couldn’t stop asking about the building’s history and how it was built. I ended up taking so many pictures of that building that mesmerised me and I just fell in love with it. Definitely love at first sight. 

Q> We see some very strong stylistic choices in the film, both in visuals and sound. Could you give us some insight on how you chose these? Do you follow your gut or is there some kind of decision-making process you go by?

Nina> I’m generally someone who follows my gut, but it’s still a team effort. I really listen to the people around me. I expressed my ideas and feelings about this film to them and everyone ended up adding something unique to it. I try to always keep my mind open for new input, but ultimately I tend to trust my own instincts for those important final decisions.  

That being said, this entire project was truly a team effort. From my amazing DP Douwe Hennink to producer Julian Brinkmann and the rest of Goodhouse Films crew, creative director Kika Douglas, the amazing stylist Lucia Lopez, and make-up artist Lewis Amarante. So many have heavily contributed to this project. 

The dystopian feel came to us quite quickly; the location already resonated with it. We tried to enhance it somewhat with simple light, letting the location be like it was. The black and white part was integrated to give a sense of distance to a specific scene. Our models hardly move in that section – they look inhuman. They come to life in the colourful world, where they see themselves, and fall in love with their reflection in the mirror. 

The edit by editor Rigel Kilston enhanced the dystopian feel, while the grading by Joppo made the colours pop just a bit more: beautiful and elegant. The music was in the hands of Job Poels and Dolf Bekker from MassiveMusic. They immediately grasped and understood the concept of the project. 

Q> And how did the music and sound influence your creative process? 

Nina> The music made this film come alive. The pictures were good, but it needed the music to get it where it’s now. The music tells a story here. Every time I watch the film, I still feel a bit uncomfortable. The Spanish guitar contrasts this upsetting feeling, making it more human and real. Just the combination we needed.

Q> Did you already have an idea of what you wanted in terms of music and sound for this film when you started working on it, or was it something that gradually developed in the process? 

Nina> For the music, I initially only knew I wanted to have a bit of a dark, techno-ish track. I love techno; it’s rough and gritty, but for me techno also has something romantic about it. I can see the romance in a rough club night. 

Job and Dolf from MassiveMusic joined me and Rigel in an early stage of the edit. After vibing a bit with some of our favourite electronic tracks and taking in the dystopian nature of the pictures, the guys really wanted to enhance that gnawing uncomfortable feeling and Job quickly produced this ominous gritty soundscape of a track that got moved and chopped up through the edit. 

It was truly a nice back and forth between the visual and musical edit, changing one to suit the other and vice versa, in order to make it really pop. When those elements started landing, the film really started speaking. It was dark yet beautiful, ominous yet romantic and it was the addition of the Spanish guitar that really drove it home for me. I went nuts about the track – it really enhanced the film. 

Q> Has music played a big role in your previous projects too? If yes, how? 

Nina>  The struggle as a director in advertising is that the client often has a wildly different view of what the music should be; they tend to ‘play it on the safe side’ and pick something many people like, which therefore sadly radiates averageness or quickly becomes forgettable. I always try to give the music as big of a role as the film, but when you strive for something unique, something daring, it means you need to push for it.

Q> Have you started viewing music and sound differently after working on Torres Blancas? If yes, how do you think this will influence your future projects?  

Nina> Absolutely. Since Torres Blancas, I feel more comfortable with making bold choices. To give music experts more space to tell the story through music. Let’s stop making music without any balls or narrative for commercials. I’d really like to keep this in mind for my future projects.

Q> Now that we’re talking about the future, what do you think it holds for you?

Nina> I’m aiming to create at least one project a year that I set up myself. Working without the usual restrictions gave me a tremendous amount of energy. On top of that, I really enjoy working on a project with my friends. I never enjoyed my job more than I did during this film. And last but not least, I hope I’ll be making more fashion-related projects. 

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