Director: Maia Horniak

Director: Maia Horniak

Artist: Planet Love Sound

Video: Middle of Nowhere / 3 Seas

Maia was born in Paris to Czechoslovakian parents. She has graduated from the worlds most prestigious film and art schools; FAMU in Prague, The Royal Art Academy in Copenhagen, and a Masters in Film Directing at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) in 2005. 

Maia’s short films have had international success, screening at over thirty esteemed international film festivals including Milan, Sydney, Bermuda, Brooklyn, Palm Springs, Brussels, Edmonton and recently her film ‘Loveproof’ was invited to screen at Cannes. In 2006 she won the Outstanding Film Maker Award at HATCHFEST USA after being chosen as one of ten ground breaking young filmmakers from around the world. 

In 2010 Maia was the winner of the OPTUS MTV one80 project with the trailer “The Sellers”. “The Sellers” has been completed as a one-hour Tele movie drama produced by MTV and Goalpost Pictures, it was released in March 2011. 

Maia is represented by Cameron Creswell for film and TV and currently has three feature films in late development.

What inspired you on your idea for the video?

After I first saw the band perform I was compelled to tell Tina the lead singer (who I didn’t know), about this Spanish photographer Ruven Afanador who photographed these wild passionate Flamenco women abandoned in the desert. Something about Tina’s energy on stage made me think of those boundless women. Those photos were a starting point in terms of getting the ‘energy’ of Planet Love Sound I think. 
Then when I first listened to the “In the Middle of Nowhere” track I immediately had these wild visuals flood my imagination. I imagined this dark circle that was sort of the universe, and then this shaman like woman who controlled it… I saw salt and black oil, and this wild dancing soul man. 
Not exactly knowing what that all meant or how the hell I was going to bring it all together, I went back to the bands logo; which are these three shapes. I loved the simplicity of the square, triangle and circle. The sacred geometry and number three became a way to find a narrative and concept to leap from. I also began watching a lot of Alejandro Jodorovsky’s films from the 70’s and started exploring ideas of psychedelic mysticism, surreal esotericism and shamanism.

How were you approached for the job?

After I told Tina about the Wild Flamenca’s, I emailed her the photos, not at all thinking it would lead to anything. She loved them. A few months later they asked if I would like to listen to their new song. I didn’t actually write a directors treatment at all. Instead I asked to meet with the band to try something different. So I played their song and got up and moved around ‘acting’ out the clip and spoke about all the shots and visuals I saw as the song was playing. I filled the room with energy and passion (like the song). I had no idea how they were going to take this crazy idea of mine, but it was one of the most exhilarating moments for all of us. There was so much passion and life in the room, and we all just ‘got it’, bouncing off each other.
Together we started building this ‘film’ rather than a music video. We didn’t want to make just another music video which was simply performance or narrative based, we wanted to make an art film together. The band were not interested in just self promotion, we wanted to create something higher, an art piece, and we all agreed to really go to another level with this project together.

What was the budget?

That can never be a good question. I’m sure you get the same answer over and over again…but basically there was no budget. Equipment and crew were favours. We did have a small budget for art department, location fees as well as feeding and housing people as we shot it out of town near Wollongong. I produced the clip so it was a juggling act. I did all the editing myself too, and we had some favours in post production, plus a last minute angel investor. It was definitely a love project.

What were the limitations you faced with the production?

Just the usual ones: weather, lack of time and resources, small crew, but it all didn’t seem to matter to be honest. Tina was a real troopper, it was the middle of winter and she was pretty much naked for hours in the freezing cold wind and rain by the sea, but never complained. The black oil was part petrol, and she would put it in her mouth and on her body, she just had no limits and really went there! We also had a huge amount of locations and I was also the 1st AD…so it was pretty hectic, but we all just loved making it. We came back from the shoot tired, sore and cold… but we were exhilarated!

Who were your key collaborators

DOP: Tony Gardiner
Designer: Emma Kingsbury
Makeup and Hair: Bexi Kirkis
Sound designer and concept co-developer: Basil Hogios

Have you worked with any of them before?

Not with the main team. I had worked with Emma (designer) before but as a costume assistant, and Tony (DOP) is a good friend, but it was a first time collaboration for us all. Basil and I almost never make a project without each other, whatever form it takes, he also happens to be my husband and a very talented composer. We are a constant source of creative support and inspiration to each other, so our HogHorn productions was born to make music driven films together. He really helped me flesh out this film clip idea, and worked closely with the band in realizing the sound design for the short film version “3 Seas”.

Tell us about your production process?

I approached the casting like a film. Everyone was an actor. The band didn’t care about being in the clip, but I knew I needed Tina to be the lead shamaness. It was important to get production value with the locations as the whole clip was about the locations. So once I found the incredible locations I kept evolving the idea, everything kept growing organically even as we shot. I had a shot list according to the various breakdowns of the song, but we rarely had playback on set unless we really needed it. Tina and I worked so much from instinct on the shoot days. If we had a new thought, or a moment to explore, we would immediately just understand each other and try it out.
I spent a lot of time with Emma (designer) in Pre, going through design looks and drawing out these ‘characters’ and their worlds. We had several fittings and I did a few Reverse Garbage runs and was pretty hands on with the design, that’s always my favourite part. We were lucky to have Tina’s bodice and some jewelry loaned to us from some well-known designers.
Shooting the “universe” sequence was really exciting. It was a total experiment. We set up a 2m wide Perspex black shiny circle in a studio, and used various light bulbs and led lights plus black oil and salt to reflect into the circle while Tina danced naked into the reflection. There was only Joe (Planet Love Sound), Tony (DOP), and I to shoot that, and we got totally mesmerized by the lights and reflections, all of those shots are in camera effects too, I love that footage.  
The Little Girl, Selena, was a real find, (thanks to Emma the designer). We had initially a dialogue script for her at the Diner but it wasn’t working, it felt too forced, so I decided to just let her improvise dialogue about dreams she had. She said so many amazing far out dreams! I really found the full film version “3 seas” during the editing process based off the story Selena improvised about a female wolf eating her lover. The short film was never scripted, it was ‘found’ in the editing.

What did you shoot on? What lenses did you use?

Shot on the Red Epic camera at various frames per second: 25, 50, 100 and 300.
Lenses used were high speed Prime’s, various sizes like 24mm, 50mm, 70mm.

What was the turnaround?

We had 2 days shooting all the sea and factory stuff. Then we shot the diner, supermarket and vacuum scenes over a half-day and night. Editing had to fit around other work and an overseas trip, so it took me about 2 months. I decided to release three teasers, one for each shape, in a build up to the final release. It was a great way to set the tone and mystery whilst building hype. 
The band also had a warehouse party in participation with other artists before the release using the teasers and concept art from the clip. We still plan on releasing other work; photography, an installation and other short video’s, its sort of an all-encompassing art project for us all.

Do you feel that the client understands the production process? How involved were the band and label?

There was no label, and the band was very involved. It was a true collaboration, everything from the idea, to the production process and the post-production. The band really trusted me from the start, they embraced my wild ideas and let me experiment and try things out, they are extremely happy with the outcome, and we have become good friends too. 


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