FEATURE: Fortunes – Disc Read Error (Dir. Jesse Vogelaar)

Sometimes you can get diminishing returns on trying to fit too much cool into one video, but when “Disc Read Error” opens with a soft toy-covered army jeep blasting through the Australian countryside, it is immediately apparent that will not be the case here.

This beacon of colour and vibrancy among this barren landscape perfectly sets the tone for the video, which is based around Fortunes. vocalist Conor McCabe and his all-star troupe of voguing revellers partying their way to eternity.   

Fortunes – ‘Disk Read Error’ (BTS photo by Sam Ingles)

Director Jesse Vogelaar, who describes this video as “a contemporary blend of Mad Max and Priscilla” talks about the way in which the idea for the video came together: “I bounced ideas with Ryan (Gasparini, cinematographer) and we came up with this absurd shipping container concept where we end up out at sea. Visually our pitch referenced artists like Rosalía and MØ and that’s where the avant-garde fashion came from. We knew we wanted it set in a Mad Max landscape as it would be a good world to contextualise the outfits. We found an original location from one of the 80’s films as a starting point.”

Fortunes – ‘Disk Read Error’ (BTS photo by Sam Ingles)

When the Fortunes. party jeep breaks down at this iconic location, they are rescued by a passing trucker, played by Fortunes. producer Barnaby Matthews. From here the main narrative line of the video moves to internal shots inside a shipping container. And even as the container is shipped out to sea, gorgeously illuminated by coloured light tubes, the merrymakers party on. It is only once they are dumped into the ocean that Conor’s counterparts begin to lose hope.

Setting these eccentric and extravagant partiers against this workmanlike landscape of truckers and dockers, the easy narrative choice would’ve been to make them outsiders battling against rural buttoned-down attitudes. But to Vogelaar, this would have been disingenuous: “I’ve done a lot of jobs in the country and have felt paranoid about being mocked as a city slicker. Ultimately, I just don’t think that’s the case. People in rural areas can be the most accommodating and accepting of differences. That was exactly our experience while shooting this video too.”

Fortunes – ‘Disk Read Error’ (BTS photo by Sam Ingles)

Vogelaar elaborates: “Andrew, the farmer who let us use his land was so woke. He didn’t really know of Fortunes. but before he left, he gave a mini speech to Conor about following his dreams and that he’ll get to where he wants to be if he keeps at it. It was very sweet. From a narrative point of view, that was very much the point – the absurdity was in Conor’s positivity and his will to keep the party going. Even when his friends realise they are doomed.”

There is just so much cool in this video and none of it feels contrived. It’s just a wonderful expression of the individuality of its characters. So much of this can be attributed to the wardrobe and production design choices throughout the video.

Fortunes – ‘Disk Read Error’ (BTS photo by Sam Ingles)

When asked about these factors, Vogelaar replies: “We had an amazing team. Diane Vu, our production designer is passionate about fashion and the cast were very much into styling as well. Some ideas were obvious from the start, like fluffy pink seat covers. Other elements, like the car – had to change entirely the day before the shoot. There was a conflict with another project that had an uncanny similarity that forced us to change. In the end the military vehicle served us much better. Diane really pulled through on all fronts.”

“Conor had strong ideas about how he wanted to express himself and Shezaana (Sadikool, aka Loser Art – one of the video’s party crew) had done some amazing work in fashion prior to this. We managed to pull together outfits that were worth many times more than the budget of the video. Imogen Walsh (Wardrobe) is also a very resourceful costume designer so it was a matter of pulling all of these different elements together.”

Fortunes – ‘Disk Read Error’ (BTS photo by Sam Ingles)

“Our experienced colourist Julien Chichignoud made a comment that I think is valid advice for filmmakers. He said he wished more people save the money they would spend on high end cameras and put it into production design, especially on low budget projects. You can’t grade what doesn’t exist! – That’s why we stuck to the Ursa Mini – and put most of it in front of the camera.”

When it comes to what’s in front of the camera, “Disc Read Error” walks this wonderful stylish line between music video and fashion shoot. Among lively free-moving performance and revelry shots we get these glamour shots that would look just as at home in an ad for a new fashion line. As a result, the whole video has this feeling of freedom and energy.

Fortunes – ‘Disk Read Error’ (BTS photo by Sam Ingles)

Vogelaar discusses the factors that brought this together: “A lot of that comes down to casting it right. I made sure Conor was involved in choosing. Ultimately, I wanted people with chemistry and people he felt comfortable with… When the performers were on standby, they would often be doing their own photo shoots with our BTS photographer. They are fashion people.”

Fortunes – ‘Disk Read Error’ (BTS photo by Sam Ingles)

Vogelaar continues: “In terms of shots it was all planned out pretty thoroughly. We did the entire video in two days – that didn’t leave us much margin to mess around. We got everything in one or two takes. I just find myself in a zone where I have to ask for things and make decisions very quickly. People will respond to that and not overthink it too much. The last thing I want to do is intellectualise it and kill the fun… As for the beauty shots, we just over cranked the frame rate to give them that difference for pacing.”

Fortunes – ‘Disk Read Error’ (BTS photo by Sam Ingles)

When a film clip is so thematically driven by this idea of fun at all costs, it definitely seems integral to the success of the video to ensure that vibe is there during production. Vogelaar echoes this sentiment: “At the end of it all, Conor said the whole shoot felt like a theme park ride. That made me feel like I did a good job. As a director I am there to protect the cast from the realities of the shoot so they can exist freely in their little world.”

Here is the official video for “Disk Read Error

Music Video Credits

Director: Jesse Vogelaar. Producer: Timothy Sharp. Cinematographer: Ryan Gasparini. Production Designer: Diane Vu. Wardrobe: Imogen Walsh. Production Manager: Sam Ingles. 1st AC: Eric Ditloff. Drone Operator: Jake Moore. Hair & Makeup: Kat Webster. Editor & VFX: Jesse Vogelaar. Colourist: Julien Chichignoud. Performed by Fortunes, Abbey Hansen, Shezaana Sadikool, Evan Loxton, Barry McBride.

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