Searchlight: We Are From LA

The difference a year can make:  Their career was kickstarted by their first prize win for their web film Eastpak at the YDA in 2012  only last year and now We Are From LA have become international names with their interactive 24-hour music video for Pharrell Williams. We watch it daily, sometimes twice, or three times a day, depending on how blue we’re feeling. Here we talk with the new directors about their feel-good dance-athon film.

and here’s the interactive link to be immediately bookmarked:

How did the idea come up to make a 24-hour video of Pharrell’s track, Happy, on a loop?

Yes, this track makes us want to dance. It’s actually been a while since we had the idea of a 24 hour-video clip and although it might be a bit restrictive to watch, the new digital technologies the internet allows us to use, gave us the tools to create something uncommon and enjoyable to watch.

We spoke to Yoann Lemoine (Woodkid) who is head of the creation for Pharrell and the idea appealed to him and he asked if we would adapt this concept for Pharrell. Needless to say we said yes immediately!

The filming seems straight forward – was it? Where were the shoots and what were the main complications of filming so many dance routines?

The concept of directing was to do the longest backwards travelling ever made. We filmed the whole clip in Los Angeles because it is the best spot to find dancers (everyone knows how to dance in LA) but also to get more diverse locations.

We had a small team (approximatly 20 people) in order to move fast and not loose a minute. But let’s put it this way: measure the motivation of the people surrounding us – we were thousands!

How did you cast so many dancers?

We contacted LA professional dancer networks, made some non-professional dancer castings and a lot of improvised ones. We wished above all to get some freshness, some spontaneity, to catch something blurry in each of them. This is why we tried to shoot a maximum diversity of dancing and dancers so that the audience could identify themselves and just say: “Why not me?”

Were most shot in one take? Did a lot of film end up in the trash can? Or did more or less everything you shoot make the film?

Indeed, most of the time we shot one take per dancer, true, for timing reasons, but also to get their spontaneity and the power of each of them. It was truly interesting to work this way, it made us realize that sometimes letting things be and flow as they are when filming and accept the unexpected to happen is a good way to direct.

Furthermore, when you explain the clip to the dancers and tell them they have one take, it puts pressure on them but then they give their upmost.

If the shoot looks straightforward the interactive construction must have been challenging. How did you work this out and develop it?

That’s right, this project was a real challenge because it was long and everything had to be carefully organized and understood. That’s what is so pleasant at Iconoclast Interactive, there is a true dialogue with the developers throughout the project, they are proactive and the idea of creating a circular timeline appeared as we were exchanging thoughts and ideas with them.

Have you been inspired to experiment further with music and interactivity?

Of course, this adventure gave us the desire to search for new ideas and stretch our limits.

We can see more and more interactive video-clips every day on the internet and the good news is that it gives us the opportunity to challenge ourselves and to make the music field, which used to be a bit scared of new technologies, move on.

See earlier interview with We Are From LA here

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