Editor’s note: The following post is by a new Motionographer contributor and copy editor, Brandon Walter Irvine. Please welcome him aboard!
Perusing the Quickies the other day, I was blown away by the video for “Ice Cream,” (NSFW) a punchy track from Battles and Matias Aguayo.
Produced by Barcelona-based collective CANADA, the video moves through a sequence of utterly distinct effects. Unlike most videos, where themes and looks are slowly built up, often in an additive process, the “Ice Cream” clip walks a very careful line by introducing a particular effect or theme just long enough for it to be registered, only to move on to another. Even after a couple of viewings, I couldn’t make sense of it, but I was definitely intrigued.
Director Luis Cerveró of CANADA broke it down for me.
Yes, it has a structure
It may be apparently random, but it all has a reason to be there. In our treatment, we divided the song into different chapters of what deconstructing the idea of an ice cream cone melting could bring to your mind. So there was first the concept of two opposites colliding (cold vs. warm, starting with the ice cream drops hitting the hot bath tub water) and represented by the young pretty girls (hot water) against older ugly guys (chocolate cold) and all these double shots of something against its opposite (snowy mountains vs. desert, etc).
Whence the licking
Then there was the chapter of happiness feeling brought up by eating ice cream, which is the overlaid part where you can see people just having fun, whose shots form ice cream shapes from circles and spheres against triangles and cones. The dance routine is also in the same spirit and again deepens the idea of an ice cream being deconstructed. Then comes the licking part, where, well, we show all the licking any ice cream needs — but being applied to other rounded shapes.
Then a part that focuses on the color: the vivid, almost tropical color of ice creams — we decided to apply that to images of girls fainting, because it kind of looks like a melting thing, and also because it relies on the idea of a lot of heat, very summer-like. And then we wanted to center on the milky texture and the fruity bits, so we decided to do that in a manner of old Otto Muehl performances — very chaotic and sticky — but with a merry approach instead of the spooky feeling you get when seeing those old performances.
Showing it without showing it
This all came from a previous phone chat with Dave from Battles where he explained how the song came out. First they did the music track, and then they decided it sounded like ice cream and started working with Matias on the lyrics and vocals. We thought that if the music sounded like ice cream, the video had to look like ice cream without really showing ice cream. Our first idea was to just show ice cream at the beginning and the end, with the girl inside the bathtub, but then Roger from the art department brought that huge strawberry ice cream cone and we decided to shoot Gina, our make-up girl, running in the woods carrying it.
The summer look
The look was, I guess, a collaboration with Marc Gómez del Moral, our DOP. We wanted to have something both very summer and playful. We were extremely lucky with the weather — we had some super shiny Mediterranean days and shot really close to the sea, where the light is powerful and clean.
There’s no stock footage; we did it all ourselves. The only thing would be the mountains and desert photos, which my dad took while traveling in the eighties, and an old Volvo catalogue photo, which we reshot.
You always have to reference previous work, so there were samples of Norman McLaren, Michael Snow, and Otto Muehl, and some overlaid pictures by Tierney Gearon. But they were more tools to reflect what we were after. The real inspiration came mostly from speaking to the band.
The girl that kicks herself
Tuixén Benet from the dance collective Les Filles Föllen did the choreography and the dance. It was quite hard to conceive and practice, because she had to put in on tape and overlay it constantly to see if everything matched. But once it was good for her, it was super easy to shoot, really. We did five takes for each color, but they all matched quite right.
On working with the dog
It was a lot of work, but it was pretty much fun to shoot and we didn’t come across any real trouble. My main surprise was how nice the karate fighters were, because they were scary during casting! And the only thing that was really hard to shoot was the final shot with the dog and bananas. Goshka wasn’t in a mood to lay down on the floor in the first place, and once we got that, she didn’t pay any attention to the bananas for ages, so we just had to wait and wait and waste a lot of film.
About the edit, the crazy thing is because of our deadline we only had one single day to edit the whole thing, so it was a long and tiresome day. When I got to bed, I kept seeing flashes of timelines, ins and outs, and matte effects.
Produced by CANADA / Partizan for Warp Records Limited
Directed by Luis Cerveró
Produced by Alba Barneda
Executive Producer: Oscar Romagosa
Partizan Producer: Sasha Nixon
Warp Producer: Laura Tunstall
Cinematography: Marc Gómez del Moral
Art Direction: Roger Bellés
Styling: Xenia Gasull
Make Up: Gina Ros
Choreography: Les Filles Föllen
Sound Tech: Diego Casares
Second Unit Directed by Nicolás Méndez
Second Unit Cinematography: Pau Castejón