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Partnership / Channel 4 Random Acts

Ill-Studio’s short film plays with reflections and odd perspectives in Berlin

It’s Nice That has partnered with Channel 4 Random Acts to create a series of films with five of the most exciting filmmakers working in the industry today; Anna Ginsburg, Ill-Studio, Kyle Platts and Andy Baker, Mattis Dovier and Ryan Hopkinson. As part of Random Act’s expansion, this week sees it launch a new six-part TV show for the first time in which our films will feature. Each 30-minute episode will collate and showcase the best of the recently commissioned shorts.

The idea for Ill-Studio’s film Mirrored had been brewing for a while: “A couple of years ago we were walking back to our office from a meeting and found a mirror in the street and thought it would be good for the studio,” Thomas Subreville and Leonard Vernhet, founders of Ill Studio, explain. “We ended up carrying it around Paris and realised there were amazing things happening in the reflection during our journey. We thought it would be cool to turn this random ‘slice of life’ scene into a film.”

The short sees a man walk through the city of Berlin while carrying a large, rectangular mirror. The identity of the man is never revealed, only what he sees is reflected back at us. The art direction and design studio felt the German city was the best backdrop for the shoot. “Berlin has had many different lives in terms of architecture. These interesting, patchwork forms and textures is exactly what we were after,” says Thomas. “We love the contrast between the neoclassicism of historical buildings to the brutalism of the DDR era, and the postmodernism of the 80s to the natural landscape that surround the buildings.”

Ill-Studio has used mirrors as a “tangible layer of surrealism” in its projects before. “It’s a simple visual trick used by many artists we love such as Stan Vanderbeek, Bruce McLean, Joan Jonas and Carlo Mollino among others.” Playing with angles, vistas and perspectives, we’re given an alternative view of not only Berlin but how we view cities and their construction as a whole. “We love to superimpose different layers of texture, colour, materials and form that having nothing in common, so our film is about shattering the forms of postmodernist architecture.”

Mirrored was created in ten days including scouting, shooting, editing and grading. To make navigating the city easy, Ill-Studio decided to keep the team small. “We really wanted to make this film as spontaneous as possible so we didn’t have an elaborate plan in place,” Leonard explains. “We had an actor, a mirror, a camera and a whole city to play round with for three days.” Spontaneity is a key part of Ill-Studio’s film, and it adds intrigue to the film’s pedestrian setting. “The best shots in the film ended up being the ones made by accident, and that’s exactly what we were aiming for.”

The studio shot the film on 35mm giving it a textured aesthetic and the choice of film was also related to the shooting process. “You don’t shoot film like you shoot digital. It pushes you to think of your shot list differently. There’s not as many tries to get a shot right, so either every detail has to be planned in advance or you just go with the flow and shoot until you don’t have any reel left, which is what we went with,” says Thomas.

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Ill-Studio: Mirrored

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Ill-Studio: Mirrored

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Ill-Studio: Mirrored

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Ill-Studio: Mirrored

Channel 4 Random Acts showcases three-minute films created by established artists and up-and-coming amateurs, chosen for their bold and original expressions of creativity. To watch weekly Random Acts selections or explore the entire archive, head to the Random Acts website.