Simon Aboud explores life in a bubble
The Annex Films director talks to shots about his dystopian vision of an antibiotics-resistant world.
Antibiotics - and how our propensity to pop those little striped pills at the hint of a sniffle is paving the way for superbugs - is a topic that's dominated the headlines in recent months.
Nothing we've read in the papers, though, is as disturbing as this new social awareness campaign, created by Havas Germany, which imagines the devastating consequences of drug resistance.
In this not-so-distant future, people exist inside their own personal bubbles - giant plastic eggs which protect them from infection, but seal them off from the rest of the world. Kids can't play football; lovers can't embrace. It's a chillingly dystopian vision which, thanks to accomplished cinematography and clever use of reflections, nonetheless possesses a haunting beauty.
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What was the brief from the agency?
The brief was ambitious. Havas wanted to create a vision of the future that was disturbing, but real enough to change behaviour. I immediately had an image in my head of a photograph by Holly Andres. It’s an oddly dystopian image of two girls in the back of a car, looking out at something unseen. There’s a real sense of dislocation from the outside world, the real world if you like, that’s exacerbated by the reflections of natural elements in the car’s windows. That was the start of the creative process and spawned a whole load of ideas that came from the idea of ‘dislocation’.
Above: Holly Andres' Homecoming
Aside from the plastic eggs, the film feels like it's set in the present - was that a conscious decision to make the issue feel real and imminent rather than some vague future prospect?
Science fiction is, by nature, far-fetched. You don’t believe it will affect you. The facts behind this film are really disturbing. You want people to notice; to change their behaviour. To do that, the world needs to be one they recognise but in which something is definitely, noticeably wrong.
The real difference in this ‘near future’ is that people have lost their freedom to do what we take for granted.
How did you go about creating the dystopian feel of the film?
The real difference in this ‘near future’ is that people have lost their freedom to do what we take for granted - for partners to have a physical relationship, for kids to play football together without fear of an infected cut. That creates these feelings of dislocation and paranoia, so we worked on amplifying that. I got to work with Bartosz Nalazek, a DP whom I’d already shot a TV show in the US with. We put a lot of energy into attempting to create an uneasy feel. Bartosz sourced a set of new ARRI Signature lenses which had a crazy close focus (you could be close enough for the Matte Box to touch the actor) and that helped with really getting inside their world.
Above: Behind the scenes images from the campaign.
Did you actually make the plastic eggs or was that all done in post?
Both. Ideally I would have only used the eggs made by the model maker because having a physical boundary makes the actor’s performance easier, but using them on a location such as the Heathrow Express would have been impossible. Absolute did an amazing job matching the CGI eggs with the real ones.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in making the film?
Filming on the Heathrow Express can certainly be a challenge. Out of the 15-minute journey, there’s about six [minutes] that are useable in terms of light. We had a lot of extras and the choreography was fairly exact as we had to allow for the fact they would all be inside CGI eggs, so by the time everyone was lined up and ready to go, it seemed like we had about twenty seconds… and then you’d be in a tunnel. Also, an actor in a 360-degree Perspex egg throws up plenty of reflection issues!