Behind the Work in association withThe Immortal Awards
Your Shot: Life Moves Forward
Production Company
Brussels, Belgium
Czar director Koen Mortier on how he created a tricksy, in-camera ‘human puppet theatre’

With its tablets and smartphones and numerous other allegedly ‘time-saving’ gadgets, modern-day life has also infected us all with a widespread and unavoidable busyness. Time is precious and we often find ourselves trying to juggle three activities at. This spot out of Publicis Brussels for BNP Paribas Fortis bank relays that hectic 21st century lifestyle in glorious fashion. Czar Belgium and director Koen Mortier use a moving, life-sized ‘puppet theatre’ and very minimal VFX to produce brilliant, orchestrated chaos. Koen gave LBB’s Laura Swinton the scoop on how he brought an ambitiously complicated production to life, beautifully. 

LBB> What was the original brief like from the creatives and what was it that appealed to you?

KM> A couple running while their life moves forward. And use iconographic elements to tell that story.

LBB> What sort of pre-production research and planning did you have to do?

KM> The most important thing was that I wanted to find locations that were real, but in a simple way easy to rebuild in moving sets. The planning wasn't that complex because we only had three days of shooting, so we almost had to fly through the scenes, which in a way gave the film a certain ‘shot-from-the-hip’ dynamic.

LBB> Where did you shoot?

KM> It was shot in Budapest, Hungary.

LBB> How much of the shots were in-camera and how much VFX was there?

KM> I believe there's only one shot where we used VFX and that is the shot where they change from their normal clothing into their wedding attire behind the three. I planned to do that differently at first, but it didn't work.

LBB> Who did you work with to build the props and choreograph the stunts?

KM> I worked with my fixed set designer Geert Paredis, who has been my filming partner for more than fifteen years now. The stunts were choreographed on the spot by myself, because the actors were chosen for their physical capabilities. 

LBB> What were the trickiest shots to create and how did you get them?

KM> The most complex scene to shoot was the one where they move from the delivery room towards the hospital room because I wanted the right pace and speed - and the third wall of the hospital room had to close off the room once they were on the bed. I didn't want too many cuts, because the film had to feel organic and natural, and definitely not scientific. The bed scene at the beginning was also really difficult. It was the first scene we shot and it was a real experiment. We learned by the minute and my set designer invented elements on the spot to make things work.

LBB> Benoit Debie's cinematography is beautiful - what sort of feeling/look were you trying to capture with the lighting and colour? 

KM> I asked Benoit to give me flairs throughout the whole film and the atmosphere of evening light. He found me the right flair colour and for the rest we tried to camouflage the fact that there wasn't any sun at certain moments.

LBB> How did you cast the actors and how did they feel about the choreography and stunts?

KM> The cast was done by Lina from c/o Jones who works in Sweden. I searched for a couple that would fit together and was believable in what they did. I didn't want to use any stunt doubles, so that meant they had to do all the actions themselves. In a way everything looks complex and difficult, but at the same time it wasn't dangerous at all, they just needed good rhythmic coordination. 

Agency / Creative
Post Production / VFX
Music / Sound