FEATURE: Alta – Push (Dir. The Folks Upstairs)

[dropcaps type=’normal’ font_size=’60’ color=’#ed145b’ background_color=” border_color=”]T[/dropcaps]he dying embers of a party. The crowd is thinning but somehow the music keeps getting louder. You’ve lost one of your mates, you can’t remember where you left your phone and your standing over the other side of the room hoping nobody realises you just spilled most of your last beer on the couch. It’s this near-universal experience that filmmaking duo Jesse Vogelaar and Ryan Gasparini (collectively known as The Folks Upstairs) sought to tap into in their recent video for Melbourne electronic duo Alta.

Alta – ‘Push’ (Behind The Scenes)

Delivered as a fluid one-shot video, the viewer follows along as the camera makes its way through a party that is clinging to life, as people in differing states have varying experiences throughout the space of this house. Whether cutting a rug, losing yourself in a mirror, obsessing over a missing lightbulb or spacing out so hard you tuck into a can of catfood, everyone has their place at 5am at a house party, as director Jesse Vogelaar explains: “Look, you can tell yourself you’ve never eaten cat food but there’s no shame in being tempted by a bit of Fancy Feast. I think that parties really open up possibilities, especially as they go later into the night. The crowd shrinks and the tolerance for cooked behaviour increases. People find their own nooks, assign themselves with quests or some just want a boogie. Personally, I love a good mischief.”

Throughout the video, moments of occult or mysticism are subtly eked into the plot, culminating with the video’s final shot where the loungeroom, suddenly completely empty of partygoers, is cleansed by an orthodox priest. Vogelaar elaborates on this peculiar ending: “All good things come to an end and after a party like this there’s always consequences. We built a lot of broken superstition into this narrative – the umbrella, ladder, black cat, broken mirror and an orthodox brief priest wandering in the street. The least we could do was cleanse the palate with a bit of sage. God forbid that bad luck is real.”

Alta – ‘Push’ (Behind The Scenes)

This conclusion to the video ties up a comedic presence that exists throughout the video, which is not only more than suited to the subject matter of the video, but ever-present in the work of The Folks Upstairs. The choice to keep things light is brought home by the fluid movement of the camera as utilised in this continuous one-shot video. It presents as a snapshot in time, a multi-faceted experience we are privy to only in glimpses. Director Ryan Gasparini explains the approach: “The main choice behind making it a one-shot is really that it’s always something I’ve wanted to try, and this idea lends itself to it more than just shoehorning it into any concept.”

”I love films like Russian Ark and Birdman, the way the narrative unfolds in a linear way as the viewer is kind of just transported around a space, meeting new people and discovering new things along the way. The fact the video is contained to one house makes a one-shot achievable and also fits with how you’d experience a party as a guest. We also wanted to play with the concept of time not being so linear or tied to the camera, which is really fun and amplified in a one shot where things can quickly appear and disappear from rooms when the camera’s focus is elsewhere (such as the priest at the end). Even though the video is 3 minutes, it’s as if hours pass while we journey through the house.”

 

Alta – ‘Push’ (Behind The Scenes)

“Of course, this was before really fleshing it out and rehearsing it, which was when we realised how challenging it was going to be, especially with lots of extras! Thankfully we had access to the space for two sessions before the actual shoot, so Jesse and I could block it all out and decide on placements of characters and their movements before the real thing. I think if we didn’t do this, the whole shoot wouldn’t have worked, as there were just too many moving pieces and things happening to just improvise on the day!”

Vogelaar adds: “Personally, I love live theatre and I’m regularly involved and seeing shows. I loved the opportunity to blend that and cinema. We had rehearsals with the lead talent prior to the shoot but the rest was a matter of keeping the cues simple enough so that once twenty or so people were in there it would flow. The extra’s cues would be relative to the lead cues and so forth. Having everything daisy chained and giving everyone a short sequence of queues made it doable in a very short window of time.”

Alta – ‘Push’ (Behind The Scenes)

While the video has been lit quite strikingly, with some cinema quality pop looks of rich colour, throughout the video the lights used can be seen as part of the scenery. Tubes are just stashed throughout the house, feeling a lot like the way you and your mates would light a house for party. It is stylish, yet grounded in the concept. When asked about achieving this balance, Gasparini replies: “We knew we’d need a 360 degree lighting setup for this, as we’re moving through a house in all directions, so hiding lights that aren’t practicals wasn’t really an option. I think that a house party lends itself to tube lights more-so than most locations and situations, especially when using the RGB & Strobing effects.”

“We looked to shows like Russian Doll for inspiration too, though as our house is a little more dilapidated, it made more sense to just have them mounted on chairs as if they’d been setup by the party goers. We also decided on placement depending on where we wanted to group our extras and talent then it was just deciding on colour themes for each room. Tube lights might be a tad overused at the moment, but they’re a lot of fun in the right context! I don’t think this concept would have been achievable without such a flexible lighting option. The only other lights we used were more traditional Fresnels and LED panels for both the outdoor section, and through the back doorway.”

 

Alta – ‘Push’ (Behind The Scenes)

The way Gasparini and Vogelaar have tapped into this feeling of the waning party, the varying levels of enthusiasm, the battle of spirit vs sleep, is really enjoyable. And intertwining the sub-story of the superstitious elements gives a certain uniqueness and intrigue to the story that certainly would’ve been lacking if they had just played it down the line.

Here is the official video for “Push”

Music Video Credits

Directed & Shot by The Folks Upstairs (Jesse Vogelaar & Ryan Gasparini) Produced by Tim Sharp Production Design by Diane Vu 1st Assistant Director Logan Davies Styling by Annabelle Topham Set dressing by Susan Calyk & Paige Gannon 1st Assistant Camera & Stills by Eric Dittloff Online & Colour by Jesse Vogelaar Production Assistant Angus Miller Leading Cast Ella Lawry Meerna Yousif James Ward Wikki Aidan Tregillis Nyuon Thong Nathan Renfree

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