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David Knight - 16th Nov 2017

From alt-J's striking original idea, Isaiah Seret has crafted an experimental epic for their song Pleader that draws on different artforms and ultimately has nearly spawned a new one. This is a music video that could also described as a short dramatic musical. 

It's set in a coal mining community in a South Welsh valley in the early 20th century, and at the heart of it is a young miner and his wife. But their fate is bound up with the decisions made by the whole community, who decide that the woman has to produce a child. In that way, they sew the seeds of their own destruction - but this is just as much about the boy with special powers who is left behind. 

In the midst there are real scenes of birth and destruction, powerful performances from Sophie Cookson and Morgan Watkins as the couple, and Ewan Hipperson as Llewelyn, their son, and a huge supporting cast. There's enough surprise and mystery here to keep you coming back looking for answers. And at its core, a breathtaking sequence: the terrible power of a volcanic cloud, destroying everything and everyone in its path.


 

ISAIAH SERET:

"Alt J’s Pleader is crafted as a short film musical, drawing inspiration from the novel How Green Was My Valley, the photos of Bruce Davidson, Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice, and the lyrics themselves. 

"Set in a Welsh mining village amidst the backdrop of impending doom, PLEADER is the story of a community whom, in their supernatural wisdom, believes the birth of a child could save their valley from destruction. And while the child, blessed with a magnetic force, cannot stop the machines of war, his survival preserves the institutional memory of the land.

"Shot over three days in Wales, and produced by Biscuit UK, the film stars Sophie Cookson, Morgan Watkins, Anton Saunders, and Ewan Hipperson. It was brought to life with digital magic from Time Based Arts, who spent weeks creating these digital effects, and shot by cinematographer John Lynch and production designed by Marie Lanna. ‘

"When starting into the journey, the band sent me [director Isaiah Seret] one line to describe the video they want — an elegiac supernatural love story that ends in a tidal wave of earth hurtling toward the village. And I wanted to give them this film, but to bring in the transcendent feeling the music created for me, we put the tidal wave in the middle and ended it with the Child's return."
 

Credits

DirectorIsaiah Seret
ProducerSonya Sier
Production CompanyBiscuit Filmworks
Executive ProducerRupert Reynolds-MacLean
Director of PhotographyJohn Lynch
Focus PullerRupert Hornstein
Production designerMarie Lanna
Costume designerMr Gammon
Casting directorKharmel Cochrane
Production ManagerRebecca Mason
1st ADLouis Barron
EditorStewart Reeves
Editing companyWork Post
Post production companyTime Based Arts
ColouristSimone Grattarola
VFX SupervisorSheldon Gardner
Director's Rep (UK)Chloe Page at Lock It In
CommissionerAndrew Law
Other creditsStory: Joe Newman & Isaiah Seret Production Coordinator: Jana Nouskova, Elena Argiros Production Assistant: Gabija Lauce Executive Logistic Manager: Nick Sier 1st Assistant Director: Louis Barron 1st / 2nd Assistant Director: Tom Allan Runner/2nd: Yasmin Seddon Runner: Daniel Linnik-Zhuravliov Runner/Driver: Tereza Dvorak Runner/Driver: Munzir Quraishy Focus Puller: Rupert Hornstein 2nd Assistant Camera: Kitt Sullivan Steadicam: Leo Bund Stills Photographer: Jake Dypka DIT: Mike McDuffie Grip: Benjamin Thomas Gaffer: Romaine Foster Electrician: Josh Wood Set Dresser: Andrius Vystartas Set Dresser: Jessica Morris Art Department Assistant: Emma Chitty Stand-by Props: Tom Major Art Dept Assistant: Ellie Koszak Action Vehicle Driver: Mr Weedon Costume Designer Assistant: Chloe Adele Costume Designer Assistant: Bridget Phelan Hair Make Up Assistant: Heather Pitchford Hair Make Up Assistant: Ellie Lewis Casting Assistant: Heather Basten Casting Assistant: Ariane Mason Locations Assistant: Heather O'Neil Locations Assistant: Zoe & Michael Tootell Researcher: Joel Maslin Choir master: Caroline Venter Cardiff Council: Emma Coulthard Edit Producer: Marguerite Olivelle Music Edit: Parallax Post Music editors: Luke Lynch & Paul Rogers Executive Post Producer: Tom Johnson Flame: Ben Stonehouse Nuke Lead: Bernardo Varela Nuke: Ralph Brisco Matte Painting: Lisa Ayla CG: Mike Battcock, Ben Cantor, Federico Guzzardo Sound mix: Factory Studios Sound Design & mix: Jon Clarke Audio Producer: Lou Allen Cast: Sophie Cookson – Bronwyn, Morgan Watkins – Andre, Anton Saunders – Hew (Andre’s brother), Oliver Dimech – Younger Llewelyn, Harry Tayler – Younger Llewelyn , Ewan Hipperson – Older Llewelyn, Nick Sier – Miner, Robert Liddiard – Miner, Chris Morgan – Miner, Saskia Vaigncourt – Miners wife, Liza Ludbrook – Miners wife, Penelope Wildgoose – Miners wife, Sanna Kelly - Nun, Amy Evans – Nun 2, Basil Massy – Choir master, Harvey Sullivan, Rico Seddon-Davidson – School bullies, Levi Seddon-Davidson, Luca Jordan, Oscar Rudolph, Will Rudolph – School boys Birth imagery excerpt: Stan Brakhage, Window Water Baby Moving (1959, 16 mm, colour, silent, 12:11) Volcano stock footage: James Reynolds – Earth Uncut TV Special Thank you: Joe Newman, Gus Unger-Hamilton, Thom Green, Shawn Lacy, Noam Murro. Thank you: Bradford Young, Isabelle & Jon Albuquerque, Jessica Seret, James Allen, Mike Skrgatic, Lisette Nice, Hanna Bayatti, Samantha Chitty, Jeff & Deane @ Brownian Motion Pinewood, Craig & Hildegarde @ Prolight, Get Set Hire, Blaenavon Ironworks Staff, Sylvia & Team @ St Fagans Museum, South Wales Caving Club

David Knight - 16th Nov 2017

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