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Future Islands 'The Thief' by Ivana Bobic

David Knight - 2nd Feb 2024

Future Islands follow the launch of their new album People Who Aren't There Anymore with a marvellous music video for The Thief directed by Ivana Bobic: a celebration of the process of creating a contemporary dance piece.

Filmed at Sadlers Wells in London and featuring choreographer/dancer Ted Rogers and dancers Akti-Magdalini Konstantinou, Maren Fidje Bjørneseth and Anna Engerström, the film investigates the painstaking and enchanting journey from first steps of developing the choreography to increasingly intense rehearsal to actual show. 

It is an utterly inspirational viewing experience, particularly as Ivana Bobic binds the visuals and the track together by completely integrating the different phases of the creative process. Editor Geri Docherty matchcuts from Rogers' and the other dancers' rehearsals to the actual performance and the effect is euphoric.   

As she explains, Bobic's creative starting point was the People Who Aren't There Anymore album cover, and she was given inspirational brief notes from the band. 

"This was an amazing opportunity to make a dance dance video and lean into my love of movement and performance," she says. "The Thief is my favourite kind of pop track – the minor chord unrequited love song. It sounds epic and celebratory, but the lyrics are about loneliness and desire and that bittersweet tone is an interesting ambiguity to explore. 

"My idea was about breathing life into the album artwork – imagining it in motion and then making those characters flesh and blood. The band’s references were a total dream: avant-garde choreographer Martha Graham and the modernist sets of Isamu Noguchi. It really elevated the project to have such unashamedly nerdy, chic inspiration.

"There was also a lot of trust and understanding working with the band, management and everyone at 4AD and I’m really grateful for their support. And of course, as always, a lot of love and patience from Riff Raff. It’s the key to making exciting films.

We cast dancers who have experienced life and aren’t afraid to express it on screen.

"I worked with choreographer Ted Rogers, my prolific ally and collaborator, to create very specific movements around the breath – the foundation of Graham’s work. For her everything was about contraction and release. So we based the choreography on this contrast.

"Balletic control and precision look so graceful but are incredibly gruelling on the body. So as the track goes on, we wanted to dismantle the perfection, pushing the dancers to extremes. We watch them unravel and free themselves. It’s as if the music changes them. We’re big believers in casting dancers who have experienced life and aren’t afraid to express it on screen. 

"I also wanted to convey the dancer’s off-screen moments: sweaty rehearsals, nerves and process. We see the transition from off-stage to performance  – like we’re in Birdman or Cassavetes’ Opening Night

"A big part of visualising the album cover was the costumes. I worked with knitwear designer Céline Bouaziz (JW Anderson, Gucci) to create this moment – experimenting with fabric construction to make the loose, connected garment. It was a fun human puzzle to work out! 

"I wanted to shoot in Sadlers Wells and wouldn’t take no for an answer – it’s the home of contemporary dance in the UK and felt really significant. It made the whole film feel like a celebration of craft. 

"On this film I got to work with the amazing cinematographer Nanu Segal again – she is so intuitive with movement and narrative.

"It really came to life in the edit with Geri Docherty, seamlessly knitting together the on and off screen moments of performance to make something really captivating. Working with dance can be really intricate in the edit, so we put a lot of love into articulating the moves and making it shine." 

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David Knight - 2nd Feb 2024

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Credits

Production/Creative

Director
Ivana Bobic
Producer
Manoela Chiabai
Production Company
Executive Producer
Precious Mahaga
Production Manager
Nathan M. Legger
Production Assistant
William Atkins

Camera

Director of Photography
Nanu Segal
Focus Puller
Sam Johnson
Camera Assistant
Lily Taylor
Camera Trainee
Emelia Corfe

Lighting/Grip

Gaffer
Edward Heredia
Key Grip
Max Burgess
Light Technicians
Johnny Downs, Linus Pomeroy, Simon Young

Wardrobe

Wardrobe
Céline Bouaziz
Hair & Make-up
Dasha Taivas
Seamstress
Liberty Ray

Choreography

Choreographer
Ted Rogers

Editorial

Editor
Geri Docherty
Editing company
Edit Producer
Jack O'mullane

Grading

Colourist
Richard Fearon
Colour grade company

VFX

Sound Design
Phil Bolland @ Sine Audio

Agent

Director's Representation
Ob Reprobates (us)
Director's Representation
Ob42

Commission

Commissioner
Casper Mills
Label
4AD Records

David Knight - 2nd Feb 2024

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