British indie folk artists Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons played the Soundpad tour in India a couple of months ago. While they were here, they took a short detour to Goa where they spent four days in the sun and sand recording two music videos – Laura Marling’s ‘Devil’s Spoke’ and Mumford & Sons’ ‘The Cave’. Both videos were produced by the folks over at Babble Fish Productions. Samira Kanwar, who runs Babble Fish, gave us this special, behind-the-scenes look at the making of the videos.
When one usually imagines heading out to Goa, it’s accompanied by visions of beaches, sun beds, sea food and beer. Those visions were pretty much obliterated when I stepped out of the Vasco airport in early December. I had a crew of 17 people that we shoved into four cars – baggage, equipment included and travelled to one of the northern most points of Goa.
We had two music videos to shoot over the next four days – one for Laura Marling and one for Mumford & Sons and while this wasn’t a typical Goa visit, it was one that I was looking forward to just as much. Once we hit Arambol, that’s when the real production began. It was Fred and Nick’s (the directors from Pulse Films in the UK) first visit to Goa (as it was for the both the bands and the rest of the crew) and all the ideation we did pre this was based on photographs they had seen or my attempt-at-being-accurate descriptions of parts of Goa.
Had us working in our newly appointed office (ie a shack on the beach) on the production schedule, trying to solidify video ideas and not get swept in by the reggae music and smell of butter garlic prawns being served on the next table. Both the bands managed to get in a bit of sun and sand, luckily as our schedule had Laura’s video being shot the first two days and Mumford & Sons on the third day. Fred, Nick and Ben (the cinematographer) managed to squeeze a bit of recce into the schedule as well and with a locking down of locations, we were ready for the first day of shoot and also manage a few hours of sleep.
7:00 am: Arpora Labour Market to scout for our models for the day. Fred and Nick wanted local character faces to be a part of the video and since there was no time to hold auditions, we decided to go to where the locals would be : a) not high on feni b) ready to work for the day .
Once we had our two (rather confused) models, they were sent to wardrobe ie ANOTHER shack on the beach and then we were off by fishing boat to a rocky end of Arambol where we spent the day shooting them silhouetted against the sun.
We had hired the Red cam to shoot the videos with, which is a digital format camera, but looks pretty close to film. It was the first time I was working on a shoot with the Red cam and to see the results it yields first hand was incredible. The shots were breathtaking and Fred and Nick seemed happy. First day of shoot down.
The good news was we managed to catch a brilliant sunrise on camera . The bad, once the sun was up, it made sure we felt its presence. And for a crew barely used to the sun (I am speaking for my friends over from the UK) they soldiered on while drinking gallons of water.
Our local production had managed to find a location that Fred and Nick fell in love with – wide open fields with a stream running through it. We covered a lot of the master shots for the video here with Laura singing the song in synch. Our playback for the song was a handy little boom box (picked up from the local market) that we could connect our iPod to and could be charged in the car. God bless technology. And the market for having it.
The second half of the day was spent shooting in the dark, with Indiana Jones-type flaming torches. This part of the Laura Marling video also has Mumford & Sons jamming on various instruments around a bonfire (that Laura was made to light).
By the time we packed up we had been working from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm. Needless to say, falling asleep that night wasn’t a problem at all.
Check out the video for ‘Devil’s Spoke’.
An early wake up call again and a full strategy planned out to be able to completely finish the Mumford & Sons music video before sunset.
We had managed to source only three musicians to be part of the wedding band at short notice, so, after a lot of begging and pleading, one of our camera attendants reluctantly gave in to being in front of the camera rather than behind it. The costumes (along with the Mumford boys’ suits) had been flown down from Mumbai and managed to reach us very late the night before, but thankfully on time for the shoot.
After shooting the initial bit where Winston (after diligently rehearsing) speaks to the wedding band in Hindi, the crew was split into two.
One team set off to shoot the Mumford boys on their scooters singing the song in sync. Kudos to Winston for learning how to ride a scooter only 15 minutes before the shoot began! What’s really cool about this part of the video, if you notice, is that the band is actually moving in slight slow motion but singing in sync. For this to happen, the song that was being played on the play back was a speeded up version. So the band is actually singing the song at a faster pace. This works because when you slow the video down in post, the sync becomes the correct speed of the original song. It also looks quite awesome.
The second unit stayed with the wedding band and after giving them a few hours to rehearsal, they were ready to be shot performing the song – which, they did quite brilliantly. Fred was jumping in excitement at the ease with which the ‘new’ Mumford & Sons’ were able to slip into the roles of Marcus, Ted, Ben and Winston.
Meanwhile, the original Mumford & Sons made their way back to the second unit and watched in amusement as the wedding band performed their song. After a standing ovation, we shot the end of the video where the instruments were returned to their rightful owners – just in time for sunset.
“Pack up” are two of the most looked forward to words after a long shoot. I unfortunately was too busy to say it then. And once I did remember, everyone had already headed back to our ‘office’ on the beach and ordered a beer. It seemed only right that I joined them. And order a plate of butter garlic prawns too. Finally!
Check out the video for ‘The Cave’.
Our coverage of the Soundpad tour.