August 14, 2015

Highly Suspect's Incredible 4-Minute Music Video Was Shot in One Take. Under Water

Highly Suspect Lydia Music Video
Music videos shot in a single take are a visual treat in and of themselves. But when all of the action takes place at the bottom of a pool, the stakes are raised to another level entirely.

The recent music video for Highly Suspect's latest single Lydia falls into the category of, "I can't believe this exists." It's shot in realtime, and the entirety of its four-minute run time features an actress tied down at the bottom of a pool, trying her damnedest to break free. Check it out:

Here's an excerpt from the description on Pier Pictures' Vimeo page, which details the artistic intent behind this piece:

However unsettling, this experiential project was carefully created with the intention of rolling a single-take in a single-location, with one character facing a dire, life-or-death situation. If you can make it to the end, the unbroken nature of the sequence enables the action on screen to come alive. Focusing on real sensations and emotions associated with love and its loss, in any form, our exploration was seeking to create just that, real feelings. We'll leave it to you to decide how this moves you, we only ask that you take note that it has... you're probably not alone. This is the power of cinema.

Though an excellent BTS video exists, it hasn't been released by the band's label yet. However, I was able to get the inside scoop on this production from Robert McHugh and T.S. Pfeffer (collectively referred to as TS&R) of Pier Pictures, who were kind enough to share some information about the technical challenges associated with bringing this piece to life.

The first question you're probably asking yourself is, "How on earth can anyone hold their breath that long?!" Well, the actress in this video is actually world champion freediver Marina Kazankova. Here's TS&R to explain why she was the perfect choice for this production:

Marina Kazankova freediver

Marina Kazankova, former freediving champion and world record holder, is best known underwater for her ‘dynamic breath hold’, or the ability to athletically move and exert energy while holding her breath. On land, Marina is also an actress and global traveler, speaking several languages (quadrilingual), and once we heard Marina could swim the length of almost four Olympic-sized swimming pools... on a single breath, we knew we had found our character.

TS&R also detail the tremendous amount of time that it took to plan and choreograph this shoot:

Highly Suspect Lydia Music Video BTS

Communicating underwater poses a number of challenges. So for weeks leading up to the shoot, we plotted and rehearsed precision choreography on dry land with Marina and our underwater operator, Pascal Combes-Knoke. This was all timed with the music. When we were finally able to get into the pool, before each take, Marina would be brought down to the bottom breathing on a scuba tank while she was tied into the harnesses. Once ready, everyone down below would give the “OK”, and then we’d remove the air and roll camera. The final video was take 6 of 8.

Lastly, TS&R talk about some of the technical challenges and solutions that he and his team used.

Gates Underwater Housing for Epic Dragon

When it came to working below the surface, we used an underwater speaker system from Hydroflex to play the song underwater and communicate with the underwater cast and crew during set up and while rolling takes. We had a live video feed from our Gates Deep Dragon housing to a set of monitors supplied by Ikan so we could watch the takes unfold, and shot on the Epic DRAGON in 6K. 

That's all we've got for now. When the BTS video is released in the coming weeks, we'll definitely share that as well, alongside a bit more information about this shoot from the Pier Pictures team.      

Your Comment

16 Comments

i couldnt do it.

August 14, 2015 at 4:51PM

2
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Sam Downton-Jones
Director, DOP, Editor.
86

Not with that attitude...

August 14, 2015 at 6:11PM

6
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Robert Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4604

i can do it now.

April 22, 2017 at 8:38AM

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Sam Downton-Jones
Director, DOP, Editor.
86

Free diving and filmmaking are two of my great loves in life. I respect this video on so many levels...

August 14, 2015 at 6:47PM, Edited August 14, 6:47PM

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Eric Georgeson
Editor/ Camera Man
74

Grunge music is still a thing? Hey, I'm cool with that.

August 14, 2015 at 7:52PM, Edited August 14, 8:01PM

0
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Thank God it is.

August 15, 2015 at 9:08AM

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David R. Falzarano
Director / Writer / Editor
1211

.

August 15, 2015 at 9:08AM, Edited August 15, 9:09AM

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David R. Falzarano
Director / Writer / Editor
1211

So she opens her mouth at 2.40 and no air comes out. How does that work?

August 15, 2015 at 5:51AM

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Karel Bata
Director / DP / Stereographer
549

For the same reason that you can be laying at the bottom of the pool and no air escapes your nose... She can open her mouth without releasing air by keeping her wind pipe locked in her throat. It would only be during an exhale that you'd see bubbles escape. Free Divers are especially versed in this because they have to gradually decompress the atmospheric pressure build up from very deep dives by letting out air periodically as they approach the surface.

August 15, 2015 at 8:37AM

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Raymond Linares
Founder / Filmmaker / Cinematographer @ BES Films, Inc.
154

Thanks Ray. ;-)

September 17, 2015 at 11:42AM

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Karel Bata
Director / DP / Stereographer
549

Amazing.

August 15, 2015 at 6:17AM, Edited August 15, 6:17AM

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Gaurav Dhwaj Khadka
Filmmaker
10717

This movie exacly shows why editing is such an important thing in cinematography. It's impressive what the actress did, but movie doesn't follow music at all & it lacks dynamics. Great marketing for the band & Marina, but the movie is not impressive tbh...It's just ok.

August 15, 2015 at 10:15AM

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Andy Tokarski
Director, Editor, Colorist
1222

Would have to agree.

August 15, 2015 at 10:24AM

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Wayne Yip
Director
218

I agree and disagree. The concept was great but it could have been executed in a more interesting way. I say that understanding the technical challenges of doing something like this. However, just because something was difficult doesn't mean it is as impactful as the creator would like it to be. A couple of things that would have made it better:

Don't make it look like it was shot in a tank... even if it is... make it look somewhere more remote... Seeing the tank walls takes away a lot of the anxiety from the viewer. They know she is only a few feet underwater in a controlled place. If they were able to shoot on location like this photographer, it would have been far more visually interesting and intense: http://www.vonwong.com/blog/baliunderwater/

I know that moving underwater is difficult, but try to use the camera to tell more of a story. An interesting location would have helped in this regard. You don't need edited shots from various angles, just develop a good choreography between the camera and the girl. The camera just seemed to be moving randomly and at times just looked like it didn't know what it was doing. Movement can be deliberate and feel chaotic. I thought it was cool, but I am just not sure if it had the full effect the filmmakers intended. Just my two cents.

August 15, 2015 at 11:10PM

9
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Couldn't agree more.

August 17, 2015 at 10:17AM

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As a free diver and film maker I know how impressive this feat is. It's one thing to stay perfectly still and focused while doing a long static breath hold, but Marina is definitely burning oxygen once she starts moving aggressively. Love it!

August 21, 2015 at 4:16PM

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Steve Underwood
Deep Blue Design, LLC: Owner
72