Video Chats: Kinga Burza on "Goodness Gracious" by Ellie Goulding
Posted by Doug Klinger on January 14, 2014 in Interviews
Directed by Kinga Burza, “Goodness Gracious” by Ellie Goulding is an energetic video featuring Ellie and some friends running, dancing, and skateboarding around a neon, almost futuristic version of LA. It features some really extreme color effects from Kinga and colorist Duncan Russell that almost made them lose their mind. We talked to Kinga about the video, light up shoes, and giving away her secrets through BTS videos.
Doug: This video has a really spontaneous vibe to it, how do you go about achieving that feeling? Was the production as spontaneous and organic as the video feels?
Kinga: Well, much like with any shoot - as prepared as we could possibly be, we did get challenged with certain obstacles that got in the way of our planning. For example, one of the locations, when we arrived we realised had its neons turned off, then another location wouldn't let us shoot in front of it even though we had a permit, because it was a strip club and their bodyguard hadn't been informed and thus not impressed. I guess, I was prepared with a few more ideas than my 1st AD would have liked and so if something wasn't working and wasn't possible, we just moved right on to the next thing because time wasn't our friend on this one and it was important to keep the energy of our cast and crew going. Ellie had flown in the day before the shoot and I was aware that it was important to keep that momentum before she hit a wall - which she did finally, but luckily this was just a bit before our scheduled wrap.
Doug: I really love how vibrant this video is and the neon look to the whole thing. Obviously there are several moments that clearly have some intense color adjustments, but I'm curious how much of those neon colors and lights were actually in camera?
Kinga: All the sunsets and a few action cutaways were completely flipped in the color grade. Don't ask me what we did, we just fooled around experimenting until I made some sounds of approval but the rest was lit in camera and then graded to fit with the shots so that the overall look felt consistent. For the neon living room scene, we actually shot this at the Partizan office, but it's amazing how you can transform a scene with a few LED's, a black light and some neon props and reflective fabrics in the costumes.
Doug: How closely are you involved in the color treatment process? Are you working alongside of Duncan Russell for most of it?
Kinga: Of course, I sat next to him the whole time. We probably had a day and half in the suite and as it was an incredibly intuitive, experimental process. I don't think it really felt right until we tweaked it again for a few hours on that second day. It's really hard to color such extreme looks because after a few hours, you lose your mind a bit and you can't actually see it looks too much or perfect. There were particular performance set-ups that we also had to enhance more than I would have liked, to keep up with the consistency. There were also few shots we had to ever so slightly tweak in post - like the sunsets for example, because when you put a negative effect on sunset, increase the chroma, add saturation, it all looks great but the sun (which is so hot it's white normally, turns black) so I made post color some of the black out.
Doug: Were the glowing shoes something you guys invented for the video, or are those an actual thing?
Kinga: The trainers that Ellie actually wears are a product of the very clever production designer Max Orgell. He stuck LED strips around the edges of the sole and hid the battery under the tongue and as these Nike Air Max's were the recent limited edition silver metallic ones, they reflected the light in this particular way. We originally tried to actually source some but light up shoes normally only come in kids sizes which I still can't understand why. Tell me you wouldn't wear a pair?
Doug: This is a really high energy, fun video, and in the behind the scenes clip, it shows you matching that energy. Is trying to personally match the vibe and energy of the video something you often do while directing?
Kinga: Gosh I really do hate behind the scenes videos because they always reveal my directing secrets, you know? No really, I find that with videos you don't have a lot of time to talk through direction, so there comes a point when you have to leave your ego behind and join in the party to make the artist and cast feel comfortable so you can really get the best performance out of them. In my past, I've done some pretty crazy things on set, like held an artists hand while lip synching the performance with them, or danced the routine behind camera so the artist wouldn't forget their steps, or like on Ellie's video, sort of actioned the kind of thing I would want her to do next to camera because with the music up so loud and all your extras really getting into the mood and the camera and crew on a roll, it's a shame to call cut and start and stop all the time. So it seems to make more sense to lift my arms up when I want the artist to lift their arms up, shake my head, booty...well, you get the picture, but this certainly can get very embarrassing, out of context on a behind the scenes video, if you know what I'm saying.
ellie goulding, goodness gracious, kinga burza, video chats
Doug Klinger is the co-founder/content director of IMVDb and watches more music videos than anyone on earth. You can find him on twitter at @doug_klinger.
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