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Your Shot: Adam Berg's Homage to Love

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Director discusses a very powerful Valentine's promo

Your Shot: Adam Berg's Homage to Love

Adam Berg's 'All Apologies' promo for Happiness is one of the most powerful videos we've seen in a long time. Released in time for Valentine's Day, it's a heart-grabbing homage to love, but not as you might expect it. Gone are the hearts and cupids that make up the majority of cheesy Valentine's content. In its place there are striking performances, a potent music track and the ability to conjure up thoughts of lost loved ones. LBB's Laura Swinton spoke to the director about telling a universal story. 

LBB> When you first listened to the track, what were the feelings and ideas it inspired in you?

AB> Well I heard the song in a few different versions. My brother had been involved in writing it so I got an insider's look into the project.

The very first time I heard it we were driving, on our way home from a road trip, and my brother played it to me as the sun was setting over the incredibly bland landscape along the five freeway. It made me very proud and incredibly sad at the same time. It has such a surrendering tone. There's not much hope left. You know it's over but can't help trying to linger. 

LBB> So often love stories can be so tumultuous and dramatic, especially in music videos - why did you decide to portray a different kind of love?

AB> Actually the singer in the band came up with the idea. So I can take no credit for that. We were taking about making something different, not with young people with all their emotions and tantrums. We wanted to be with this older couple, find a calm place in their love, while around them a drunk angry silence, people staring, gossiping. These weird looks from red eyes. But everyone just staying. Except for the children, who are in a reverse role trying to be the parents for their parents, painfully aware of the awkward situation. 

And in the centre of attention this beautiful, loving elderly couple. It's like the most tender intimate moment. Dancing, holding each other, real true love in the eye of the storm with only eyes for each other at the heart of all this animosity. So I guess it is kind of tumultuous and dramatic, but in a very small way. 

LBB> Speaking personally, I found it a really beautiful but difficult video to watch. I guess it stirs up memories of grandparents' funerals and things like that - and I would imagine other people will be really moved by it in a similar way too. So, as I think it's a story that many people can relate to I was wondering if, when you were developing the video, you felt like you were telling a universal story or a more personal one?

AB> The hope is always to tell a universal story in a personal way. Not telling people what to think and how to react, just trust them to do that for themselves. Im glad it made you feel something. 

LBB> The actors performances really struck me -  especially the woman who I'm guessing is the daughter. The concern and upset and awkwardness she expresses felt so real. How did you cast her and how did you work with her and the other actors to get that level of performance?

AB> We had only cast for the elderly couple. The rest were people from the location, an Elks Lodge in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, and extras. I gave everyone the basic concept of the story and we started moving around them, kind of looking at all these great people. When we started shooting I had some ideas of the narrative that I wanted to unfold and I was looking for the people to play those roles as we were shooting. The daughter was an extra that we picked for her beautiful face and she was just wonderful and completely got it. So I put her in the role of the daughter and just started giving her more stuff to do. 

LBB> Moreover, all the performers even the extras really captured that feeling of sadness so beautifully. It looked like there were a lot of pairs of eyes with that glassy, nearly tearful look. What was the atmosphere like on set? And did you have any directorial tricks to set the mood?

AB> Yeah it was a very special feeling on set. We tried to shoot it all in as long takes as possible - really following the action, letting it unfold in front of the lens - so we were also playing the song while we were shooting and I think that got everyone in a certain mood. It was very calm and quiet and felt quite respectful. It felt almost like we were shooting it for real. 

LBB> While the story itself is quite simple, there's a lot of complexity in terms of the family relationships underlying it. How tricky was it to convey that, particularly with no words? 

AB> We discussed a bit about getting sound on set, but didn't really have the money for it - so we decided against it. I kind of regret it as it was very strong when the daughter was pleading with her mother and when the aggressive brother was trying to drag his mother off the floor. 

The biggest discussion was actually in the edit later, whether to show the portrait or not. I still think we could have left it out. But for the rest, the exact relationships were not so important. Just the emotion behind the behaviour. 

LBB> In terms of the lighting and the grade, the film has wonderfully faded look to it, and for me it seemed that that look and the spotlights combined to create an almost ghostly or ethereal atmosphere. I was just wondering how and why you opted for the look you did?

AB> Well I have Joost Van Gelder to thank for that and for not lighting much at all. We kind of just went with what was already there. The post lights were standing on stage already, it was kind of perfect. 

LBB> What were the most challenging aspects of the project?

AB> Just finding the money and time to do the song justice. We shot it in one day off the back of a commercial shoot and Smuggler spent their money to make it happen. The crew all worked for essentially nothing so I am very grateful for everyones time and effort. 

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Genres: Storytelling, People

LBB Editorial, Fri, 14 Feb 2014 10:09:52 GMT