Beyond The Wizards Sleeve, aka Erol Alkan and Richard Norris, have shared the full-length version of And So To Sleep, the short film directed by BAFTA winning director Kieran Evans (Finisterre, Kelly + Victor).
And So To Sleep brings together a series of videos for five tracks from the duo’s excellent album The Soft Bounce. The film was premiered as part Everyman Cinema Music Festival at the Screen on the Green in Islington in May 2016.
Read what Evans had to say on the making of the film below.
“The story of "And So To Sleep” begins with me receiving an email from Erol and Richard with a track attached that they wanted my opinion on. It was called ‘Black Crow’ and it was brilliant. The incredible scope and ambition of the track had me frantically emailing them back with superlatives and congratulations and asking what else they had up their sleeves (no pun intended). Given the work they’d done with their Re-animations over the years, I was genuinely excited by what they might be creating and what the album could sound like. Very quickly more tracks came down the line. ‘Creation’ came next with its twisted calypso rhythms and ethereal vocals from Jane Weaver. Then came a new version of ‘Door To Tomorrow’ with luscious strings and the enigmatic vocals by Welsh troubadour Euros Childs. ‘Diagram Girl’ arrived sounding like a long lost instrumental New Order B side with gorgeous Hannah Peel vocals and then finally ‘Iron Age’ dropped in to my inbox sounding like the bastard love child of Neu and Black Sabbath colliding in the dark with Mystery Jest man Blaine Harrison on vocal duties.
Each track sounded immense and thrilling, fusing many musical influences and genres in to something completely unique. To say I was excited was an understatement. Rich and Erol emailed me asking if I was up for making a promo for ‘Diagram Gir’l. I emailed them straight back and asked if they might be interested in me making a short film featuring the five tracks they sent. Over several cups of coffee, a plan was hatched, a budget was agreed and a dedicated producer in Drew Smith O’Neill was found.
Given the sheer volume of video clips and promos that are released every day, there was definitely a mutual feeling that we wanted to create something that had a strong thematic and aesthetic premise with a twist on what people considered psychedelic. The five tracks that Erol and Richard had sent me had a rich and unusual soundtrack feel to them and listening to them on repeat, I started imagining them as musical sequences from a strange 1960’s avant grade film. I’d been watching a lot of films such as "Last Year In Marienbad” and “Eyes Without A Face” and was struck by the simplicity of how they were shot yet still managed to retain an incredibly bold sense of framing and staging. I started thinking of applying some of the shooting techniques and rules that were used in these films to how we would approach shooting ‘And So To Sleep’. So with my ace DP Vanessa Whyte we agreed to shoot everything in Black and White, limiting ourselves to shooting with vintage K35 lenses and only 2 lens sizes, no track and dolly, using available light wherever possible. These rules kick-started the thought process on how to approach making the film possible
Drawing on the influences of these French New Wave films alongside the surreal photography of Arthur Tress and the staging ideas of Samuel Beckett, I wrote an outline for "And So To Sleep” that featured the story of two characters, Emily and Francois, lost in a dream state that finds them trapped within a strange house populated by weird masked characters who occupy rooms, loaded with symbols, sinister shadows and surreal logic. The idea was that over the five chapters, we’d create something sinister and foreboding in places, playful and tongue-in-cheek in others. The overall effect was to create a dream like state where movements are weird, time slips back and forth, images are reflected or twisted as we interweave the story of Emily and Francois around these events as they try to navigate their way through their dreams.
We sequenced the five songs in to an order that seemed to fit a musical and narrative arc. ‘Door To Tomorrow’ felt like the music you’d hear in the opening titles to a film and given the lyrics featured a character called Emily, we decided it had to be the first track in the film. ‘Diagram Girl’ felt like the logical next track with it’s brooding electronic sounds fitting perfectly with the idea of Emily entering the darker spaces of the Mansion house. I always felt that ‘Creation’ and its twisted Calypso rhythms had to have a strange dance routine concept so I placed it at the heart of the film, with a very strange “Singing In The Rain’ style sequence very much influenced by New Orders classic 'True Faith’ promo crash landing in to a Bridget Bardot dance number. ‘Iron Age’ would take us back in to darker areas with Blaine and his screaming, out of control alter ego dragged backwards through corridors and rooms in the house. And with the epic sounding ‘Black Crow’, the track felt like the closing number of the film where we finally bring Emily and Francois together and pull all the narrative elements and strange symbolism into a climactic visual cocktail that is part bizarre film trailer and part end title sequence.
We ended up shooting it like a short film over two days in a derelict mansion house in South London that a friend had recommended. An amazing cast and crew were assembled who went above and beyond the call of duty. Patient editors shaped and reshaped the cuts to fit the narrative logic and with the incredible support and belief from the production team at Bullion we finally realised our idea of shaping a short film around five incredible tracks from the Wizards brilliant album "The Soft Bounce”.
I hope 'And So To Sleep’ is a trip. A real trip. And I hope you enjoy that trip.”