Actor Connor Jessup may have been busy carving out his on-screen career in recent years, but he has long held an interest in developing skills behind the camera – even when we featured him for HERO 15 in 2016, he had already written and produced two short films in the last two years. While his next on-screen venture will see him work alongside Greg Kinnear, Amy Ryan and former HERO cover star Nick Robinson in Strange But True (2019), Jessup has continued to hone his talents with a new music video for fellow Canadian, film composer and multi-instrumentalist, Casey MQ.
Following the release of MQ’s debut EP Nudes, Jessup directed a short film for The Constant, a song whose eery and atmospheric notes are matched only by Jessup’s reverie-like film, shot in 35mm with no digital effects. The narrative centres on the dreams and fantasies of a young boy hiding out in his school overnight. Once asleep, his unconscious self rises like a ghost to dance through the night and live out his dreams under the cover of darkness.
We exclusively premiere the video below alongside a quick chat with Jessup about translating dream-states into film.
Finn Blythe: How did you first become involved with Casey MQ?
Connor Jessup: In addition to his solo music, Casey is a wonderful film composer. We were working together on a short film about a ghost orchestra. He did a beautiful arrangement of ‘Que Sera, Sera’ to be performed by twenty-five ghosts. I was so excited. That movie fell apart, unfortunately. This video was a nice excuse to work together anyway and a good place to put the spare ghosts.
FB: What discussions did you have prior to shooting? Did he have a preconceived storyboard or set of themes?
CJ: Casey gave me a lot of freedom to interpret the song. He was very open. It was almost like making a short with a prewritten score. We did talk a lot about tone, though. We both felt there needed to be a delicacy and sensuality, like dream sensuality – a bit diffuse, a bit mysterious, far away. The song is full with that feeling, so I tried to focus on that.
FB: What was behind your decision to shoot on 35mm?
CJ: My last two shorts were also on 35mm, and we’ve done some stuff on 16mm, too. I love the medium so much. I could babble, but mostly I think it’s beautiful. In a real way. And putting aside the aesthetics, I have more fun working on film. It makes me feel like I’m getting away with something. It supplies productive tension, and it frees me from the burden of too much information.
FB: Can you explain the technicals behind the dream version of the boy? It worked really well.
CJ: It was actually a variation on an old theatre trick called Pepper’s ghost. We placed a large pane of glass at a 45˚ angle in front of the camera and used it to reflect prerecorded images that were being projected onto an off-camera screen. It took planning and tinkering, but it was actually fairly straightforward. My DP Chris Lew and I experimented beforehand, but we were never able to properly test the full setup. We were both surprised by how seamlessly it worked on the day
FB: Is this directing something you’d like to do more of and in which direction would you most like to take it?
CJ: Yeah, it’s what makes me happy. It helps me get along with myself. I’m working on my first feature now.