Arcade Fire are not messing around when it comes to being prolific this year. In support of the band's new LP, Reflektor, the group has already released a video for its title track, as well as a twenty-minute concert special called "Here Comes The Night Time," on top of a litany of high-profile shows.
Now the Montreal band is unveiling a new video for track "Afterlife," directed by Emily Kai Bock and produced by The Creators Project. The film's narrative is dark and compelling, incorporating nightmares, lost lovers, and familial bonds into a somnambulistic seven minutes.
Kai Bock has garderned praise with each new video she releases, including Grimes' "Oblivion" and Grizzly Bear's "Yet Again," also produced by The Creators Project.
Watch the music video above, and continue reading for a Q&A with director about how difficult it is to make a film about dreams without it becoming cheesy, and how Kai Bock dragged an extremely rare camera through sand while shooting.
The Creators Project: How was the idea of this video conceived? How much influence did the band have on this narrative?
Emily Kai Bock: The band's management contacted me, but I didn't know what it was about at first. Then I met up with Win Butler in Montreal – we both live there. They didn't send me the song in advance, so I listened to it on headphones in their office. I only got to hear it once...so I just had that first impression to go off of, but it gave me an idea.
I knew the video had to be very epic to match the song’s epicness. I knew it would have to be visually stunning, and slow, but still big. I had ideas about a relationship and crossing from life to the otherside.
The video deals with dreams, did any personal experiences influence your cinematic interpretation of dreaming?
I played the song for my mother and she said, "This is about a relationship. That's clear." She helped me formulate part of the idea, but I was also having really weird dreams at the time and decided to pay more attention to them. I wanted to notice how they look, I mean really look, and to get an idea about the aesthetics of representing dreams on film.
Dreams do look like real life. They aren’t the cheesy, blown-out, digitally rendered thing we've seen in pop culture a million times. When I’m dreaming I’m convinced it’s waking life. I didn’t want to have to show the audience that the film's characters were dreaming. I wanted the dream to look as real as it feel to me. Plus, I wanted black and white as a divide between generations--the father dreams in black and white while his sons dream in vivid color. I like to think about how kids dream as compared to how their parents dream.
Tell us about shooting -- where was it shot? How big was the crew? What made this video special?
We shot on 65mm, using this rare camera of which there are only three left in the world. I shouldn't be saying this, but I was carrying it through a rock quarry and dragging it through sand while thinking "this camera literally shot The Dark Knight, this camera shot 2001: A Space Odyssey." It’s from the 70s and looks like a NASA device. It shoots the highest resolution. If you want to shoot a big action sequence you use a 65mm. It helped me get that epicness I thought the song required.
What did you think about Spike Jonze's live music video adaptation of "Afterlife" on the YouTube Music Awards? What did you like best about that interpretation of the song?
I was very intimidating when I heard that was happening. Jonze was part of the reason I started making music videos! We had just wrapped in LA and I watched it. I would love to see his interpretation of the song if it wasn’t live because the different conditions totally change the narrative. I have no idea how I'd turn my version into a live performance.
What upcoming work do you have? Any other music videos on the horizon?
I've been thinking of doing my own short for a while. When we were filming "Afterlife" I started getting interested in specific aspects of filming like sound. Like in the scene where the family is talking around a table, I had to really focus on capturing their voices. I want to keep playing with that, and it will be a part of my future short film.
Also check out the band's rendition of "Afterlife" at the YouTube Music Awards, a live performance directed by Spike Jonze and starring Greta Gerwig (as well as some angel-faced children).