Following the release of singer-songwriter ALA.NI’s debut album, she was asked to record a song for Amazon. After it’s brilliant reception they asked for a video to follow.
In the song Not Coming Home, the captivating voice of ALA.NI recounts a story of a dreamy night against a Parisian background exploring desire, love and human connections, paralleled with a colder reality.
The challenge to craft a universe reflecting the elegance and poetry in ALA.NI’s voice and words was one that needed to be seen through a lover’s eyes. To freeze moments of beauty is something that only film could provide. Similarly, there is a mentality and mechanic that shooting on film imposes. Choices matter, and when the camera rolls, that moment is recorded forever.
To achieve our look, we shot the Parisian night exteriors on 500T and pushed 1 1/2 stops in development. On set, I filtered with a 1/4 Bronze Glimmer Glass to bloom the highlights and add a warm tint in line with the classic ideas that jazz evokes.
With the knowledge of how we would expose the night scenes, we reverse engineered the shots, which could have been native exposure.
The bar, for example, was 200T pushed one stop and exposed for 320ASA. To keep the grain structure similar, we also pushed the daylight exteriors in the same way but underexposed slightly.
The apartment was the only location where we used 200T and exposed for 200ASA. This was an artistic choice to represent the return to normal life, Cinderella after the ball, if you will – a cleaner image where things appear more real to us and the characters.
So that was the journey for us, the wild moment of love pushing the 35mm into 16mm territory and the colder cleaner reality.
This is also why we stuck with tungsten stock – to exaggerate the two worlds. Colder days (thanks to the stock) and warmer nights were created using bigger tungsten sources and dimming them. Most of the night shots are lit with a 2k china ball on a boom, which Victor, my gaffer, moved in correlation to the practical street lights in the shot to achieve a more naturalistic effect.
We shot on the Hawk C anamorphics, a perfect blend between the older defects that add a certain character without the common distortion seen on many anamorphics of a similar age.
I was supported by my passionate and devoted crew – Elodie Ferre, who can pull focus wide open at 135mm without marks; and Etienne Dang, who kept everything running like clockwork and painstakingly hand-wound the 1000-foot rolls into 300-foot rolls for the Arriflex 235 without a speck of dust!
For the post production, we went to Hiventy, who are an incredible team and take the utmost care with everything. First the telecinema for the edit, followed by a final 2k scan on their Scanity.
One rather problematic shoot needed a night-to-day conversion, and our colorist Florien did an amazing job of matching these, commenting that even with Arri Raw he could not have pushed the image that far!