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July 7, 2012

Watch Shia LaBeouf's Moving Performance in this Sigur Rós and Alma Har'el Film

Every once in a while a typecasted Hollywood actor goes outside their comfort zone and surprises everyone. Though some might think that there are always selfish motives behind some of these choices, often actors like being challenged and want to participate in projects because they love the material. Shia LaBeouf, unfortunately best known for being the goofy Sam Witwicky in the Michael Bay Transformers series (the newest being Dark of the Moon), turns in a beautifully moving performance in this Alma Har'rel (Bombay Beach) directed experimental music video/film for Sigur Rós.

Here's the video below with Shia starring alongside Denna Thomsen. Thanks to Scott over at Filmmaker Magazine for sharing this (there's some NSFW nudity).

Fjögur píanó by Alma Har'el:

Here is a behind-the-scenes:

Shia LaBeouf x Sigur Rós on Nowness.com.

I got a little flak for calling Rob Chiu's The Division of Gravity (which I now know was shot on the RED One) an experimental film, but I think it's safe to say that this piece is far more on that end of the filmmaking spectrum. Sigur Rós, the ethereal Icelandic band, started a project called the Mystery Film Experiment with their new album Valtari. Here is a description from the website for that project:

Sigur Rós have given a dozen film makers the same modest budget and asked them to create whatever comes into their head when they listen to songs from the band's new album Valtari. The idea is to bypass the usual artistic approval process and allow people utmost creative freedom. Among the filmmakers are Ramin Bahrani, Alma Har'el and John Cameron Mitchell.

"We never meant our music to come with a pre-programmed emotional response. We don’t want to tell anyone how to feel and what to take from it. With the films, we have literally no idea what the directors are going to come back with. None of them know what the others are doing, so hopefully it could be interesting."

Much of the film was shot with the Phantom Flex (with some RED mixed in if you look at the beginning of the behind-the-scenes), so if you'd like to replicate the slow motion look on an even smaller budget, you either have to take advantage of software like Twixtor or shoot with a camera like Sony's new FS700. The takeaway here is that if you listen to their needs and provide just enough support, professionals actors can do almost anything you ask them to do - and sometimes the best thing you can do is stay out of there way. Micromanaging can only get you so far, but in the end it's up to you as a director to understand each actor's process and about what they need from you to achieve the best performance possible.

There are two great interviews with the director Alma Har'el (who also happened to be one of Filmmaker Magazine's 25 New Faces), so head on over to Filmmaker Magazine and Nowness to read them. Here's a little bit from the Scott Macaulay interview:

Filmmaker: The video is clearly a symbolic narrative, but how specific are the various elements to you (the lollipops, the butterflies, etc.) Do they have metaphorical meanings, or do they exist more abstractly?

Har’el: The process of writing something like this which is more of a dream then a narrative involves switching between the dreamer and the “shrink.” First you dream, then you analyze what things mean to you and then you dream some more but with more awareness and goal. More lucid. Then the actors come in and ask what something means and you have to analyze again.

Filmmaker: I understand the budget for the video was pretty minimal. What’s the secret to getting this level of production value and effects out of such a small budget?

Har’el: Love and devotion. The love of people for the music and for what I do. I could have never done this without the people who worked on it. Their love for their work and this project and their generosity with their time, money and equipment.

These are the other videos that have been released so far in that series:

Ég anda by Ragnar Kjartansson:

Varúð by Inga Birgisdóttir:

Rembihnútur by Arni & Kinski:

Ekki múkk - moving artwork. Video by Inga Birgisdóttir:

Link: Mystery Film Experiment - Sigur Rós

[via Filmmaker Magazine & Nowness]

Your Comment

41 Comments

There are many posts about gear on NoFilmSchool, and little place left for the art, creativity and the creative process. Thanks for this post, and making me discover that beautiful video, with the comments about the process.

July 8, 2012

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Have you seen the horror short that Shia directed with rapper Cage? It's awesome.
http://youtu.be/FVemNLOwCJ0

July 8, 2012

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Kilgore

Man bites dog?

July 8, 2012

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Conan

Yup, that's what i thought too, well done though. The randomness made it feel so disturbing.

July 8, 2012

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Ralph

Also check out this music video he directed for Cage, the song is "I Never Knew You." Pretty cool, has a bit of Fight Club style to it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=F4Sxm6zx4e8

July 8, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Could have used a NSFW tag for this one.

July 8, 2012

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Chris

He says there's NSFW nudity right before the video.

July 8, 2012

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Kilgore

Yep, and I also posted this on a weekend in the hopes that most people wouldn't be at an office where it would be a problem.

July 8, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Some of us have morals. Not believe it or not people outside of work would rather not see this shit.

July 8, 2012

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Jake

I'm not even sure where to start with that. The overall reaction to the video has been positive, and it was covered by Filmmaker Magazine (who is pretty well respected in the movie business). So rather than get into a conversation about morals (which would be futile), I'll just say that I only post videos that I like or that move me. You have to remember that what is offensive to you may not be to another person, so if I think it has artistic merit, I'm going to post it without hesitation.

Ironically, there are people and groups that find swearing immoral. It's a good thing this site isn't one of them.

July 8, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Hahah. Classic. Have a nice weekend Joe :))

July 8, 2012

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Lliam Worthington

"You have to remember that what is offensive to you may not be to another person,".

No, you have to remember that what is NOT offensive to you may be to another person.

And my point was, the the NSFW, why have that? It's like saying, don't look at this around other people, just watch it alone.

July 8, 2012

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Jake

Not Safe for Work as a tag does not imply that you cannot watch it around other people. NSFW is used because workplaces are far less tolerant of anything that can offend anybody, and many human resources departments don't necessarily look too kindly on workers watching videos with nudity and lots of off-color language. It's there to tell people that the content that follows could be something beyond the scope of what's considered allowable at their workplace, not necessarily that it will offend other people.

Everything is offensive to someone - literally. It's a lose lose situation if I looked at it the way you suggest, because I could never post anything out of fear that someone, somewhere, will be offended.

July 8, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Give me a break, there's a threshold of what's generally offensive, and I would say that you'd be a lot better off (as far as not offending anyone but still being able to post) by not having content with nudity in it .

July 8, 2012

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Jake

Generally offensive to whom? Americans? We have a rather large international readership, and Europe as a whole is far more tolerant of the human body and anything related to the arts. There are certainly other countries that are far less tolerant than America. Which group should I cater to?

In any case, if nudity offends you, kindly move along and let other people enjoy the piece. As I said before, if I like it, and it's something I think other people will appreciate, I'm going to post it.

July 8, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

This is a lost hope, you just don't want to understand what I was talking about. But anyways, w/e. Enjoy.

July 8, 2012

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Jake

When did nudity become immoral?

July 8, 2012

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dixter

@dixter: Exactly. Damn puritans. Joe, don't forget to wear long sleeves, long pants, and a hat when posting on this site. :-/

July 9, 2012

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Shenan

Oh, and I forgot to say, we and all other animals are born naked, which makes it the most natural thing in the world.

July 9, 2012

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Shenan

Gotta love how you're offended by the nudity but you don't even mention the domestic violence. Interesting what some people consider "morals".

July 18, 2012

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Ariel

Brilliant. Seriously trippy and awesome. Always nice to see posts about interesting shorts on here.

July 8, 2012

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Check also The guide to recognissing my saints with Shia LaBeouf, its is a good actor.

July 8, 2012

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What a lovely piece, Shia's performance, and can I say, brilliant stuff, reminds me of an early Colin Firth film called A Month in the Country, its one of those hardly viewed works where the director just let them act and forgot about everything else. Still moves me today.

July 8, 2012

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shaun wilson

Shia is an amazing young artist!!!

July 8, 2012

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He may be the 'Transformers' boy to you, but he's the 'Even Stevens' boy to me. Nice to see his dick hasn't grown much. ha.

July 8, 2012

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Chet

Well actually I know him from Even Stevens as well, but I said he was best known for Transformers, unfortunately. You could tell he was going to be a star when that show started - there was a fearlessness there that was pretty interesting.

July 8, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Yep. And don't forget Ren Stevens (Christy Romano) going nude 2 years ago. She got breast implants and they look da bomb. Google it. (Mirrors 2)

July 10, 2012

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Chet

fuckin art man.

July 8, 2012

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Matt

Really, did no-one else think this was just really silly, embarrassing and laughable? Godawful drippy music (again) and daft dancing.

Surely the hoo-ha about morality and nudity above has it the wrong way around; they've used nudity cynically to make a claim for artistic respectability.

The European perspective, my credulous colonial friends? A bit of knob and nipple don't an artwork make.

July 8, 2012

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Graham Kay

I did, screaming painful "art". Pretentious to the extreme.

July 9, 2012

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dan

I really enjoyed the BTS like I do with almost all BTS videos.
As for the actual video I'll say two things, experimental...
and I hope that people don't continue to do the weirdest freaking things and call it 'art'

July 9, 2012

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Joe

Thanks for wasting 8.5 minutes of my life. Now I know what it's like to be on drugs. Please tell me they didn't receive any funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Just because someone is famous, doesn't mean everything they do is great. I lost a lot of respect for Shia LaBeouf.

July 13, 2012

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Lem

I agree totally. hurried to make a comment before reading the others already made. Basically a nicely shot load of pretentious plop. Of course art is subjective and means different things to different people and it's up tot he artist what they communicate and how but I have my limits of credibility.

July 15, 2012

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Alex

"It seems that the entire film was shot with one of Phantom’s cameras..."

Alexa as well

Joe Hedge, DIT

July 8, 2012

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Joe Hedge

Really? Looking now I still only see the Phantom Flex in the behind-the-scenes, that's the only reason I said that.

July 8, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Green screen was Alexa as I recall...

July 8, 2012

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Joe Hedge

All I can see if Flex, but I actually just noticed right at the beginning, they were using what looks like a RED SCARLET (definitely says RED on the side and it's grey as opposed to black), so I'm wrong either way. :)

July 8, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Amazing actor. Moving. One of my favorite actors and favorite band epic. Director looks like the character from brave. Great post.

July 9, 2012

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Mark C.

Hahahahahahah, I said the same thing!!! She's really beautiful.

July 11, 2012

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Made it halfway through before bailing. Nicely shot but to me it's a bit of a pointless load of pretentious $%^&*. If they applied the same cinematic style to something that meant something it would hold my interest.

July 15, 2012

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Alex

oh and I think Shia is a great actor but taking your knickers off and prancing about with a dead stare doesn't make you one.

July 15, 2012

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Alex