NRFF Interviews Artist Roxana Vilk
I Just Disappeared Into You
Movie • 06 min • Music, Dance
DIRECTED BY Roxana Vilk (for the UK band GOL)
*WINNER of the NEW RENAISSANCE BEST ARTIST AWARD, LONDON 2017
Directed by award Winning Director Roxana Vilk and Shot in Scotland and Iran, the dance/film explores our relationship to nature and the nature of movement. In Iran dancing for women is banned, so The dance/ film explores contrasts the movements of dancer/choreographer Skye Reynolds, with the movements of an anonymous actress in Iran. Sections of the dance/film are also made up of thousands of still images woven together, exploring new ways capturing elements of the choreography and the ‘energy’ of the dance.
Welcome to the New Renaissance Film Festival. Congratulation on your nomination for ‘I Just Disappeared Into You.’ How does it feel to be nominated for Best Music video?
It feels wonderful to be nominated for Best Music Video at such a brilliant and artistic festival. Really looking forward to seeing the work of all the other filmmakers selected and meeting fellow artists.
You were recently at Cannes Film Festival. Tell us about your experience and what you won.
Our experience at Cannes Film Festival was very special and unexpected as we ( my husband Peter Vilk and I who run the production company United Creations Collective ) only got the funding to attend the Cannes Film Festival right at the last minute. We spent three days in Cannes watching so many films, and getting really inspired by some brilliant work, as well as just taking a moment to experience the crazy wild spectacle that is Cannes! . The music video for ‘ I just disappeared into you’ won second Prix du Jury at the Artist /Film Festival section of Cannes, which was really a huge moment for us, especially as this music video was a real passion project for us as we have made music videos for other musicians but never for our own music.
What is the story behind this film? Is there a central message you want audiences to take from it?
The story behind the film is connected very much to the music by the band GOL. The band GOL, is a band which has four key members, my husband Peter Vilk on drums kit and music production, Yann Seznec on Keyboards, Allan Ferguson on Bass and myself on vocals and lyrics.
This song ‘ I just disappeared into you’ is about that moment when you just want nature, in this case the vastness of the sea and the sky to just take you, envelop you and make you disappear. How we as humans are just a speck really in the bigger picture of the universe.
As a filmmaker I have directed many music videos for other artists but I wanted to direct a music video for our own band and I wanted to feel free to make an artistic exploration, and a kind of experiment into how we capture the poetics of dance and movement. Now in the digital age, we can capture everything so perfectly sometimes too perfectly, so I wanted to experiment with capturing the movements of the dancer, ( Skye Reynolds) by taking thousands of photographs and playing with the shutter speed, so that at times the movement is blurred, and her gesture is just like a tracing a line of light across a space, so that it could feel more poetic. We were lucky enough to work with a brilliant cameraman Ian Dodds on this who we have collaborated with for over 10 years and who is also a painter, so he really understands how to play with light. The toughest part of capturing the dance this way was in the edit and we were very lucky to work with brilliant Iranian editor Maryam Ghorbankarimi, who has a lot of patience for weaving together thousands of images. We have worked together for many years so there is a deep friendship and understanding there. She also did the camera work for the Iran section of the shoot.
I asked Skye Reynolds, the wonderful dancer, to imagine that feeling of being taken by the sky and the sea and disappearing into them, as she danced across the sea wall in Scotland. Then behind our house there is an old courtyard where many Swallow Birds migrate and nest, having journeyed from Africa to Scotland, so we shot some dance sequences in this courtyard, and then captured through thousands of stills other birds flying across the sky.
The footage we shot in Iran, has a different feeling and here it adds another layer which is about the politics of movement. As a British/Iranian singer and filmmaker I am always aware of the increased freedoms I have to express myself here in Europe compared to my sisters in Iran. I wanted to contrast a woman standing stock still in the waters of the sea in Iran with a woman dancing in Scotland. The audience can pick up the nuances they feel from these opposing images woven together, the movement of one woman and the stillness of the other. These women inhabit different worlds, different rules surround them but they are united by the sea. In Iran women are banned from dancing in public and this always strikes me as such a deep infringement on the basic human right of wanting to express how you feel in a moment by just dancing that feeling freely. So I wanted to express that in this film, That ‘freedom of movement’ in all the senses of that phrase, is a vital, essential and crucial human right. We need to defend it.
As a band we are not fond of pushing a central message and as a filmmaker I would not want to be giving anyone a specific message, instead the space and moment to pick up the nuances, contrasts, counter points, sensations and emotions that resonate with them from experiencing this work. What I would add is that this is a music video that we created more along the lines of an art/film so it is to be watched several times as it feels differently each time.
Where was the film shot? What was the most challenging scene to film and why?
The film was shot in both Scotland, in a seaside town called north Berwick, during cold month of November and also in Iran, in the port of Bander Abbas on the Persian Gulf. Probably the most challenging scene to shoot was the woman standing in the sea in Iran, as when you are a female filmmaking team in Iran you can cause quite a lot of attention and we had a crowd watching what we were doing, and following us down the beach, so it was hard to find the quiet and stillness for that shot. Also for the final shot with the golden light ( none of which is enhanced it is all the natural light at that time of day in southern Iran) we only had 15 minutes to capture that moment before the golden light would disappear so again that was challenging but in a fun way that each film always has its challenges!
How did you get established as an artist? What inspires your work?
I refused to have a back up plan which meant that I had to pretty much take every opportunity that came so I could pay the bills through my creativity, which meant sometimes things were really really tough and I had to work on some crazy bonkers and wonderful projects but it meant I kept making work and kept making collaborations and I got to marry my favorite collaborator Peter Vilk and we set up our very own production company – United Creations Collective together – so that we could make music and make films together and with others.
Inspiration always comes unexpectedly at the strangest moments, so no one thing inspires the work, perhaps the biggest inspiration is waking up and having another day on this ride called life and being fully present in the realisation that every day could be our last.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Believe. Believe. Believe. Keep making work and don’t let your fear stop you. Fear will always be there ( well it is for us anyway) but don’t let fear drive the car. Put fear in the backseat, put on your favourite music, turn it up loud so you can stop fear talking so much!
Also a central message that I feel I want to put out there is that don’t feel that you can’t have kids and a family and also make art, music and films, cause all too often we get the message given to us that you can’t be an artist and have a family. Rubbish. Children are the best artists and toughest critics around and having them around you as you grow in your artistic journey can only be an inspiration rather than something that stops you.
What are your future plans for this film and other projects?
Get our work out there, get it seen and experienced and to keep making work both in music and in film . We have just finished the edit of a new film we were commissioned to make , in the film/poem genre, which is called ‘Hopscotch’ based on a poem about street harassment of BAME women in the UK.