Tearing Up My Heart : : Small Creatures Goes French with ‘They Won’t Tear Us Apart’

Tearing Up My Heart : : Small Creatures Goes French with ‘They Won’t Tear Us Apart’

After meeting in Italy, Small Creatures began production on Parisian rock band She’s A Boy’s music video for their leadoff single ‘They Won’t Tear Us Apart’. After receiving instructions to make a video that was “sexy, dark and strange, like a David Lynch film, but with a transvestite”, thus began what was truly a remote production: the band remained in Paris, the filming took place in North Carolina and the edit was done in New York.

motel_btsAbove: Actor Shaun Donaldson adjusts the television before inserting his arm in its side for ‘They Won’t Tear Us Apart’.

The production ran for 2 nights and was filmed in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina on location at a motel. The crew, principle actor (played by Small Creatures/Yellow Arrow Film regular Shaun Donaldson) and bellhops were literally encompassed by the production, sleeping at night in the various motel rooms filmed throughout the video. The motel manager (played by longtime actor Wes Martin) and his trophy wife were cast locally and filmed their scenes over the course of a night.

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Above: Director William S. Davis attaches the television set to actor Shaun Donaldson’s arm on set. Below: Shaun’s character attempts to remove the affixed TV from his arm.

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All set pieces were native to the motel rooms inhabited during production minus the rocking chair the main character is found in at the start of the video, and the television set which becomes affixed to his arm at the end of the first act of the video.

rusty_green_screenAbove: Actor Rusty Sheridan stands in for his green screen appearance prior to the second act chase sequence.

Because green screen footage was required for the inter-dimensional sequence once the main character breaks through the wall with the television whilst in pursuit of the animated couple, this sequence was filmed in a nearby basement during daylight hours. Roughly 1/3 of the motel footage was filmed during the day and 2/3 at night. For the sequences filmed prior to nightfall, day was cheated for night to achieve a consistent midnight effect.

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Above: Shaun Donaldson stares intently at the television screen in a dark-lit room during the opening scene of the music video.

All sequences in the video were shot in color and the opening sequences were transferred to black and white in post-production to add to the separating effect of the different worlds on either side of the motel wall. Several discussions took place among the director of photography, director and editor before sticking with the initial plan to begin in black and white and end in a colored version of the motel room after passing through a hyper-colored chamber during the chase sequence.

tug_of_warAbove: The tug-of-war sequence at the end of the music video moments before the fabric of reality is destroyed.

The final tug-of-war sequence was the fourth of five acts designed for the video. The act structure went as follows:

  1. Man in motel room seeks animated characters in television set and is partially absorbed by the TV
  2. Man follows animated characters to the wall and breaks through as the motel staff enter the room
  3. Man chases animated characters as the motel staff chase him in animated realm
  4. Animated realm merges with prior reality as tug-of-war ensues
  5. Upon releasing man with TV set, current reality explodes and Man/animated characters walk off into new environment as sun emerges

For the final sequence following the Man’s emergence from the rubble (which were painted cardboard boxes and motel room/character detritus piled around him in the green screen space), the background plate was 16mm time-lapse stock footage shot prior to production by director of photography Erik Murphy. Rotoscoping of the 3 characters at the end was done by editor Bradlee Crawford Hicks after each of the three characters were filmed separately in front of the green screen.

‘They Won’t Tear Us Apart’ can be viewed below: