David Knight - 8th July 2020

Aella Jordan-Edge puts new indie-pop combo The Snuts through their paces in the video for Elephants, culminating in a suitably mammoth challenge.

In this TV gameshow-cum-videogame scenario, the bandmembers progress through the rounds, from group dance routines to solo moves, and then the big one: the bucking elephant.

No, that's not a misprint. The production's piece de resistance is the elephanine makeover of a mechanical bull. Created by production designer Lucy Cooper to be a delightful patchwork-made creature it indeed has true elephant-like qualities: very loveable, but no man can match its power.

As Jordan-Edge and producer Lily Ashton explain below, this was achieved under the strict guidelines for post-lockdown shooting, which created its own set of previously unknown challenges. They have done a great job in the circumstances.  

AELLA JORDAN-EDGE:

"Let’s be honest, the almost comically cheery nature of this project was just what we all needed after months of hibernation,  confusion and anxiety. The Snuts were absolutely lovely to work with, one of the most hard-working and dedicated bands I’ve had the pleasure to make a music video for. Never having danced before they put their all into the dance routine created by
amazing duo KZ Creatives (Nat and Kane). I was super impressed!

"One of the funniest ways lockdown restrictions affected the shoot was watching the band rehearse the choreography via
zoom. Nat and Kane were having to teach them this intricate dance routine while they jiggled, pointed and side stepped in their kitchens and living rooms.

"So my first shoot in a post-Covid world, wasn’t without the additional stresses and strains of factoring in all the extra health and safety: social distancing; Tier 1 and Tier 2 PPE; a one way system to move around in the studio; all food in self contained boxes, staggered meal times...  The whole studio smelled of hand sanitiser and the presence of a Covid officer who took everyone’s
temperature every few hours and swapped out our masks for new ones meant we couldn’t forget that it wasn’t “all back to normal”. However I was surprised how quickly we all adapted. Soon it just felt like another factor among many we already had to contend with. It’s amazing how over emphasising with your eyebrows over the top of a mask, or ducking out of the way when someone comes too near becomes normal. We all just get on with it. The show must go on!

I don’t think I fully knew if the elephant was going to absolutely 100% work until I saw the first crash zoom.

"Overall it felt like we’d done our absolute best to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible during the shoot and I’m super-grateful to Charlie (1st AD) and Lily (producer) for implementing it all with such grace and charm.

"Ah yes, now we come to the elephant. The idea of a mechanical bull re-upholstered as an elephant was originally conceived by lead singer Jack. I ran with the idea and turned it into a Sesame Street-cum-Muppets-cum-Elmer the Patchwork Elephant creature. Then production designer Lucy Cooper designed and hand-built the most beautiful beast, and what we liked to refer
to as the “Elephantasy”. I don’t think I fully knew if the elephant was going to absolutely 100% work until I saw the first crash zoom Nathalie (DP) did with all the lights and set behind it… and I was like YES. IT F**KING WORKS! It was a crazy idea and it not only worked, it totally stole the show.

"Later, in between takes when bassist Callum was doing some BTS videos he referred to it as Patricia, so that’s what it’s now called! The boys took her home with them so I’m hoping we will see more of Patricia in the future! Fingers crossed her journey isn’t over and she’ll have a long life ahead of her to entertain, buck and spin her googly eyes to her hairy hearts content."

LILY ASHTON:

"Our goal was to make sure we didn’t compromise on creative or safety; but instead work in a smart way to ensure that the elephantasy could come to life within the new normal of post-pandemic filming. Aella’s treatment provided a great starting point; creating a wonderfully bonkers ‘world’ without relying on complicated sets or locations, and focusing on the performance and personality of the band, instead of using additional talent.

"We were very lucky to work closely with Maryland Studios to create a safe working environment for all crew using the APA Covid-19 Guidelines as a basis for our plans, as well as responding to the specific needs of the space. These plans included one-way-systems to prevent pinch points, temperature checks on arrival & a great deal of anti-bac! We also worked to reduced crew numbers, which allowed us to socially distance within the space.

Plans included one-way-systems to prevent pinch points, temperature checks on arrival & a great deal of anti-bac!

"Every department had to adapt to these reduced numbers and new practices; from our DP, Nathalie Pitters, using in-camera effects instead of practical special effects, to our choreography team, KZ Creative, conducting remote zoom rehearsals. We were lucky to work with a super smart team who threw themselves into all of the challenges and found clever solutions which
allowed us to work safely without compromising the creative.

"In some ways it feels like a lot has changed, but in the end the success of the shoot lay, as ever, in a clear creative goal, good communication between different departments & a pinch of common sense!"

PRO Credits

Credits

DirectorAella Jordan-Edge
ProducerLily Ashton
Executive ProducerAlan Traquair
1st ADCharlie Killick
Director of PhotographyNathalie Pitters
Focus PullerJerry Prandon
2nd ACSasha Imani
GafferHélio Ribeiro
Art DirectorLucy Cooper
WardrobeBo Dube
Make-upRobyn Rowan
CommissionerLiv West
LabelParlophone
ChoreographerNat Zangi
ChoreographerKane Klendjian
StudioMaryland Studios
EditorMeg Thorne
ColouristMegan Lee
Other creditsSparks: Giovanni Mattei, Sebastian Nowell Stand By Art Department: Oliver Edinburghy Cooper 2nd AD: Dave Stocks 3rd AD: Nana Quartay Seamstress: Carson Darling Blair Camera & Lighting: Direct Digital Edit Producer: Martin Macnamara Graphics: Chelsea Aldred Colour Producer: Charlie Morris @ The Mill Medic: Movie Medics Rodeo Bull: Texas Rodeo

David Knight - 8th July 2020

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