Video Chats: BRTHR on 'Bounce' by Iggy Azalea
Posted by Doug Klinger on May 10, 2013 in Interviews
For their last music video, Wasted My Time by I/O, director duo BRTHR spent three days running around Long Island, packing in multiple locations with multiple setups all within a short period of time. For their latest video, Bounce by Iggy Azalea, they also packed in a lot of locations, but this time they were in Mumbai, India shooting with an elephant that legally isnt supposed to be there. We talked to BRTHR about shooting in India, working with a large budget, and collaborating with a Bollywood crew.
Doug: How did you guys get involved in the project?
Alex: Alexa Haywood from Free Agent UK is our music video rep. She got us the last Iggy Azalea brief for Work. That one we lost out to Jonas & Francois. We got the second brief a week after that, and we were awarded that one pretty much right away. That's basically how we got involved. It's been something we wanted to do for a long time. One our goals was to do an Iggy Azalea video. It was pretty cool that it happened.
Doug: Was the concept of shooting in India part of the brief, or was that your idea?
Kyle: Upon hearing the song, we really felt this Indian vibe. There are some undertones to the beat that just felt really Indian - like the Indian violins. A couple of minutes into listening to the song and thinking of ideas, we instantly visualized an Indian wedding, and we sent the treatment in. They really dug the idea.
Alex: It was supposed to be shot in LA though, so we weren't thinking big. The budget wasn't small, but it wasnt huge either. We weren't thinking crazy because we though we could only should in LA. It was basically going to be a wedding hall and there was a speech that we shot. There's actually dialogue, but it got cut out unfortunately.
Kyle: Shout out to Deepak.
Alex: Basically, Iggy liked the idea so much that she put in some of her own money. The label put in more money as well, so we could do it India. We took pay cuts. Everyone on our team pretty much took a pay cut, but we all wanted it to happen in India.
Kyle: We felt like if we were going to do a video about an Indian wedding, we wouldn't be able to do that idea justice if we were to shoot back in LA or America. Once they said India was possible, we felt like that was the best decision for us.
Alex: Everything is authentic in the video because our crew was pretty much all Indian. There were more than 30 Indian people working with us. We made sure we weren't offending anyone. Obviously, there's shit talk about cultural appropriation and racism on YouTube, but that's just YouTube. We made sure we weren't offending anyone because we had Bollywood producer on our set. He said, "This is all good." If there were some parts where he thought, "Maybe we shouldn't do that," we didn't do it. We didn't do anything that he told us not to, which wasn't even that much. We just had to take out a swear word in the dialogue. We just had to make sure she wasn't wearing anything too offensive in some scenes, but that's about it.
Kyle: Everyone in the crew was really interested in learning about India and the countrys rich culture.
Alex: We respected them. In our minds, the video is a celebration of Indian culture.
Doug: When it came to assembling the Indian crew, did you guys get an Indian producer that took the reins?
Alex: They're a very established Indian production company and they do a lot of foreign jobs, like Daniel Wolfe has done stuff with them. Brad Pitt was in one of their things. It's pretty crazy.
Kyle: Supposedly, they're the go-to production company in India for the western world.
Alex: They're fucking insane. Amazing and efficient. Eli our DP and producer Brendan was saying, "They're probably the fastest working crew we've ever seen." Everyone spoke English, too. We got our money's worth.
Kyle: For the first experience working on a video with a budget and a big crew, it was the best possible experience ever from that perspective.
Doug: What was the casting process like? Were they heavily involved with that as well?
Alex: We just had a casting director and he literally did everything for us. He would just send us people that stood out to him. We did want an audition because one of the characters had dialogue initially, but it got cut out. He did a perfect job.
Doug: You mentioned a little bit with working in Eli Born, how did you guys get in touch with him and what was it like working with him?
Alex: Eli's amazing. He's the nicest guy ever. He's a saint. That's all I can say.
Kyle: This is our first project working with a DP, and it couldn't have been a better experience. The label wanted us to work with Eli because they felt confident in him after he shot Iggys video for Work. They felt like he would be perfect for this job as well. He's known for his vibrant color style, which we felt would work perfectly for a Bollywood video.
Alex: He obviously knows a lot more about cinematography than we do. He's been doing it for a long time. He's been shooting a lot of Tim and Eric's stuff recently. The way he was working was super professional, and he's a friendly guy. Easy to work with. Were definitely planning to work with him again.
Kyle: Everyone vibed really well. Us, Eli, our producer Brendan. We became really close friends in the process of filming.
Doug: The last project you guys worked on, the I/O "Wasted My Time" video, is self-funded. You guys basically all sold your DSLRs and stuff to make it happen. This video is opposite of that with the size of the budget. Can you compare the two projects from that perspective? What was it like working with such a large budget, was it always easier or were there a lot of difficulties that came along as well?
Alex: I think there's definitely more pressure with a bigger budget because you have to give them something that's worth that much. The mindset's a little different, but we quickly got used to that and tried to just focus on the work. Just keep doing what we do. At first, we definitely felt some pressures though.
Kyle: When working on a low budget video, all the responsibility is in our hands. There's a tremendous amount of things that we have to do, think about, and take into consideration. What was so amazing about this project, was working with Brendan Lynch, our producer. He was doing all the dirty work. That's something that we had to do in the past. It was an enlightening experience because prior to shooting this video, we didnt fully grasp how important the role of a producer was. Now we know.
Alex: I guess one thing that was tougher was definitely the post-production process because, obviously, there's a lot more notes, corrections, and just comments that you have to deal with. You have to please everyone. At the same time, you want to keep your creative control. That's a lot more limited when it's a high budget. We all managed to work it out. This is now the eighth cut.
Doug: What are some of the notes that you get from them?
Kyle: We had a narrative component in the video in the beginning where there was speech introducing Iggy, because it was her wedding. It was a challenging scene that took a lot of effort. It was a large setup and ultimately it got scrapped. That was our intro for the video. In the post process, we had to reconstruct the entire intro to this video leading up to the performance. This was really hard for us to take out at first because it was how we envisioned the intro for the longest time. Then suddenly it had to be changed. But I think now in the end, the video is better off in some ways.
Doug: Iggy's image is very sexualized, obviously. Her first single was called "Pu$$y." However, you mentioned that one of the things your Indian producer was to make sure things didn't get too provocative. How were you able to balance the image that Iggy has already created for herself with the Bollywood style that doesn't promote sexuality as much?
Alex: The song's called "Bounce," it's a party song. It could have easily been a video about twerking or something, but we know other directors would probably write that. Her last video was all twerking pretty much. We wanted to make a classier video. We wanted her to be sexy but not showing much skin, like classy-sexy.
Kyle: We really wanted to respect India and to pay tribute to Bollywood. Many people in India know very little about Hollywood, or western movies. Bollywood reigns supreme.
Alex: One of the guys on set out where we were working with, said he didn't know who Tarantino is. He works on a film set every day. Another guy only knew Spielberg, he didn't know any other directors. He was one of the biggest guys on the set, he's a production manager. He's big and he does a lot of stuff, but he couldn't name Scorsese.
Doug: I remember before the video, you guys mentioned to me that you had to shoot the elephant scene in a different part of India than where you shot the rest of the video. Why did you have to go into a different city?
Kyle: In Mumbai, shooting elephants and any wild animal is illegal. There was an incident a few years ago where an elephant killed some people. However, that same production manager, Ganesh, was incredible. He was able to do some wheeling and dealing, work out a deal with the police in India, and we were able to shoot in Mumbai.
Alex: We didn't have travel time. We had so many locations, as we usually do. We didn't have time, so we had to get it and shoot in Mumbai. It was perfect. He sorted it all out.
Kyle: If we were shooting in America, it would have been a fiasco.
Alex: It would cost a lot of money too.
Kyle: It was like we arrived to the road, the elephant was there. Iggy pulled up, she came out, she got on, and we did it. Eli was on the roof of our car to capture it all.
Alex: I was on second camera on the 5D, some of which we used. It was just so hectic. We tried to get as much as we could. Unfortunately, we didn't get that many wides, because it was just too crazy. We went to the slums right after that. It was insane because we stood out so much. Shooting in the slums, we had to maintain a small crew because people would complain and the police would show up. There's a law where you can get your equipment taken away if youre shooting without a permit on the street. That's a new law actually. That's why we had to be very hush-hush, and Ganesh was just amazing because he would sort all of that out.
Kyle: There is something really interesting about walking around in India, in these slums, with this glammed out, goddess-like rapper. She really turned heads. We worried at times when we were in the slums that it could feel like exploitation in a way, but we felt like we approached it with respect.
Alex: One thing I learned about India was they're very open. For example, there are shots of kids dancing in the slums. We would just put the music on and Ganesh would say, "Come on everyone. Let's have fun!" They would just start dancing because dance is in their culture. Everyone loved it and they were really open about it.
Kyle: We definitely appreciate everyone that was involved. These people weren't props. They were people. There is a really special energy in India that we really wanted to express.
Alex: We got to know a lot of people. A lot of extras in the video, we got to know really well. The actors playing the father and the groom, we were fortunately able to communicate with them constantly. They had a great time, and now we're all Facebook friends. We didn't just use them. We formed relationships with these people.
bounce, brthr, iggy azalea, 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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