Inside the Vortex with Film Collective BRBR

Name: BRBR

Title: EXIL

Year: 2018

Film Programme: URGENT: Social Shorts 2

Every day they order Alix to wake up and he wakes up. Again the impenetrable blackness, again the night. Wake up. An abandoned mining facility sets the scene for the electronic ensemble’s blistering beats

BRBR is a film collective based in Madrid & London specialising in research of the audiovisual experience. Working in the fields of the moving image, installation, field recording, collaborative practices while being interested in the sharing of hidden knowledge, BRBR operates on the intersection of film, music and visual arts.

BRBR, in a ever changing world, is interested in finding new ways of producing, especially in the film industry and is ready to face these challenges.

BRBR offered us some insights into their latest creation EXIL.

How did the idea for EXIL start?

EXIL is part of a collaborative creative process of BRBR and TERRITOIRE. The band came to us with their new album ALIX asking to join them and build up the visual part of it. TERRITOIRE has been a reference point for us since the very beginning of our career, so for us, it was an extremely inspiring and challenging collaboration. The album got us hooked immediately and the creative process went very smooth, because we would be deep inside ALIX’ fantastic territory right away. The images just started comin out and the story came to life from the very first moment.

We did two music videos for the band, EXIL (on Cinedans) and ESCLVVV. We are now working on an art installation-display for the live shows, that will tour with the band in the early future. We are still working one-on-one with the members of TERRITOIRE on new projects and it has been going well so far! It was obviously a fertile collaboration.

What were the main limitations while working on this production?

When it comes to genres like screendance or music videos, budget limitations are the most common limitation to absolute creative freedom. This case wasn’t an exception and EXIL had been a really challenging production. Since the very first moment, we knew the most important values to be embodied in the film should have been the location and casting. The main strategy for the production design was to keep the number of elements at its minimum and find compelling narratives to help create the film’s nightmarish mood.

Thanks to Javi Diaz’ family who had been working in the mining industry for most of their life, we had the great opportunity to film in these amazing settings. When they went back there, we immediately understood that these places meant much more to them than a mere work environment. It was an extremely emotional moment. Their feelings for those locations were tangible, and their emotional connection with the mine had a great impact and influence on the way we shot the film.

Moreover, we had the great honor to work alongside  Luis Ndong, who is the main (and only) actor. EXIL represents his first step towards his acting career. We knew him from his work in fashion and as a model and we loved the body control and total physical awareness he displays through his movements. Luis’ expression can be fragile and harsh at the same time and he switches from one to the other imperceptibly.

What is the central theme of your film and how did you develop it?

The film is a suffocating story that starts with a sole actor raving on an uninhabited industrial complex, where nightmares and reality mix in an endless vortex. A stunning visual metaphor about power and obedience set in a dystopian universe.

BRBR  develops a unique and accurate visual narrative appropriate to each project. Our workflow as a film collective eases the interrelation between all the film departments. For us, in this particular project, the interrelation between the different roles was fundamental, since we were looking for an absolute hybrid amongst the team members. We wanted to picture the limbo between conscious life and dreams. EXIL is shot using all natural light, mostly in the eerie dusk and dawn hours. The surreal feel of the light in the valley brings a magical touch to the lighting of the film. Michal Babinec, director of photography at BRBR, has a lot of experience in this. Most of the stage props were elements already present at the mining camps. This brings a deep feeling of the locus of the locations into the scene. Some of these objects are now preserved and used in the installations and live shows by TERRITOIRE. Again, it was a pleasure to work with Miguel de Cruz as Art director, we are pretty sure he enjoyed it as much as we did!

During the post-production process, we review the story several times until we got the aesthetic we wanted. Even when we direct music videos, we mix together the music with the film sound design and modify it if required. This way, the final result breathes a more complex, immersive depth. And the same applies to the graphic identity for this project, designed by Gonzalo Hergueta.

Where do you see the dance film field in the future? What are your aspirations and wishes for its development?

As filmmakers, we are interested in dance films. We focus in every video on the physical and corporal expressions. Even in the works that you would not necessarily label as a dance film.
It is an expansive moment for film production in all its formats and genres, a perfect time for finding new ways of producing and new possibilities for those formats that already exist, such as music videos or screendance, but we were having difficulties in finding new audiences and/or distribution channels.

The possibilities that technology brings pushes us to rethink our work and to find new and exciting paths for more experimental or non-narrative films. This is the main challenge right now and we are extremely optimistic  and excited about these opportunities.

If you missed their incredible short EXILE, don’t panic, you can find it here.

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