U2’s latest track “Ordinary Love” is a striking music video created by Supply & Demand director Mac Premo and Irish visual artist Oliver Jeffers. The hypnotic promo is shaped as a lyric video, invoking the words of Bono in soulful scribe that extends across a multitude of surfaces.
Shot on location at The Invisible Dog Art Center in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, New York, U2’s ballad plays as a tribute to Nelson Mandela. The track was created specifically by the band for the new biopic, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, reflecting upon Mandela’s dignified persona and difficulties experienced after surviving 27 years of confinement in jail in South Africa.
Ordinary Love marks the first release from U2 since their 2009 studio album No Line on the Horizon, and is timed to coincide with the release of the film. A limited number of 1,000 10-inch vinyl copies will also be available for purchase in select record stores.
The Ordinary Love video opens on a sunrise of The Invisible Dog, focusing on various textures and colors at the art center’s 100-year old structure before scribed prose spreads before us on a multitude of surfaces – chalk, ink and paint flowing across walls, plastic, paper, wood, human bodies, sidewalks, elevators and more.
The inventive promo was initially conceived as an effects-based project before eventually becoming an artful, in-camera project. “Although we first aimed to create a CGI music video the conversation kept steering back to doing it all in-camera,” reveals Premo on the clip’s artistic hand made effects.
Jeffers adds that it soon became clear a more organically natured shoot better suited U2’s emotional material. “We finally made the decision to go in that direction and changed the shoot schedule accordingly to accommodate,” he says. “But in doing so we discovered the joy of finding so many animated solutions in-camera.”
“I think the process led to us exploring many more options at the location,” continues Premo. “We treated the job like an artistic commission instead of relying on storyboards. We just went for it – which was ultimately freeing for both of us artistically.”
The pair embraced a run-and-gun approach, garnering live footage and stop motion elements using a Sony FS-700 Camera, Nikkor 24-70mm f2.4 lens, Lensbaby Movie Maker’s Kit, MYT Works Glider plus a Canon 5D MkIV with fast 50mm f1.4 lens. All material was shot at 24fps, while animation was captured on individual frames.
“I stopped everything down because I like having a narrow depth of field,” reveals Premo, shooting with 2nd DP Oliver Jevremov. “Shallow focus promotes a sense of intimacy because it hones in on certain points, plus allows you to define things by shifting focus. There is definitely a sense of discovery using this approach in the video.”
The theme of impermanence is felt throughout the clip as words fade and degrade, illustrating Bono’s lyrics in a fresh and vital way. “We didn’t shoot for obvious metaphors,” explains Premo on matching the song’s theme. “The idea of things fading plays large in the track – and it isn’t necessarily a happy song, but an honest homage to Mandela that doesn’t aggrandize his life in any way.”
Once the video was wrapped, U2 contacted Jeffers to ask if Mandela’s image could also be included in the video. Realizing its importance, Jeffers agreed, collaborating with Premo once again to paint Mandela’s portrait on an extra day of principal photography to accommodate their request.
“The band wanted to refer to Mandela directly because the song is obviously dedicated to him,” says Jeffers on adding Mandela’s portrait. “We had to think quickly to come up with the concept you see in the video.”
Jeffers is referring to a beautiful portrait of Mandela that he painted, seen in time-lapse sequences as shot by Premo over the additional day. “A lot of the fine art work I do is portraiture, so I painted Mandela very quickly to include it,” he continues. “We got up at the crack of dawn and photographed the painting at various stages of completion to fit it into the structure of the piece.”
To convey the rising and falling spirits of Mandela’s life the duo also utilized an old freight elevator and cage inside The Invisible Dog. “We used it to move up during certain lyrics and down with others to give a feel of what you are hearing,” Jeffers adds.
One direct tie-in to the Mandela biopic is a scene where a letter is opened – but censored with most of its writing erased: “There is a moment in the film where Mandela receives a letter in prison from his wife,” notes Premo. “He opens it and there’s nothing – everything has been omitted by the authorities. That definitely ties in with a very powerful scene in the film.”
Ann Lupo also assisted in post, editing the material and adding her own creative spin at key moments in the clip. “She took direction phenomenally well and helped improve the piece,” explains Premo. “She came in on board with the whole team, was tight with the schedule and kept innovating throughout the process.”
U2's album of new material that includes Ordinary Love is set for release in the spring of 2014.
- Mac Premo
- Oliver Jeffers
- Production Company
- SO Projects Inc.
- Ann Lupo
- 2nd Unit DoP
- Oliver Jeremov
- Oliver Jeremov
- Universal Records
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