Work / Film

We ask Young Replicant about his stunning new Flying Lotus video

Coronus, The Terminator is the latest single from Flying Lotus, taken from the album You’re Dead! As the album title suggests, it’s a moody, atmospheric tune, backed up by an equally heavyweight video. The five minute epic comes courtesy of Young Replicant and Pulse films and follows a dying man through his last minutes on Earth, hovering between conscious and unconscious worlds, battling the demons of his past before he moves into the next world.

I watched the video about five times before deciding that I definitely needed to speak to the LA-based director about how he created this macabre world, and whether his inspirations came just from Flying Lotus’ music…

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Young Replicant: Coronus, The Terminator (still)

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Young Replicant: Coronus, The Terminator (still)

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Young Replicant: Coronus, The Terminator (still)

Flying Lotus has already got a wealth of incredible music videos in the bag. Did you feel the pressure when you were asked to work on his latest one?

Definitely some pressure. Those are some of my favourite videos of all time.

The whole film feels like a dark fever dream; did you get a sense of wanting to create that feeling as soon as you heard the track?

A lot of feeling came from listening to the first 30 seconds of the track, which Steve [Flying Lotus] ended up rewriting as an extended score for the video. There are ominous undertones but it’s still very tranquil – l kept imagining it as a dangerous animal drinking at an oasis or a funeral barge floating by. I knew straight away it was going to be centred around death but in a way that was more dream-like than violent.

It also feels like we’ve arrived right in the middle of the story; do you have a sense of whether the young boy and the dying man are father and son and what their back-story is?

It’s intentionally left open-ended but for me it’s a father and son story. A couple months ago I binge-read every comic book written by Jodorowsky, which all kind of have an Old Testament fixation on bloodlines and the passing on of genes. I didn’t realise that they had an influence until Steve mentioned that parts of the treatment reminded him of Jodorowsky’s The Metabarons, which is like an epic Greek tragedy in space. To become the Metabaron, each generation of warrior has to kill their parent, the previous Metabaron. It plays on the old psycho-analytical trope about sons having to kill their fathers before they can become individuals. The Coronus story starts with both parties going through that process before they’re really ready for it.

Flying Lotus seems to have a pretty clear vision of what his music represents. Did you guys work closely to create these visuals, or were you given a lot of creative freedom?

I had a lot of freedom when writing but at the same time it was all based on the music Flying Lotus had made. A lot of the images and concepts are rooted in the lyrics, the sonic textures, and the album artwork. I tried to dial in on images and themes that I thought might fit the album as a whole.

In terms of acting this is a pretty involved video. How did you go about putting the cast together?

We tried a couple different methods; street casting, casting sites, and hitting up friends. We shot a few scenes nearby where I live in West Adams and had some neighbours try out as well. Several kids came in to read for the part of Coronus but Brian Heard really stood out. As an exercise, I asked him to imagine staring at a dead dog and he effortlessly settled into a very moving 100 yard stare.

I sought out Chris Obi after seeing some of his work online. He’s a really talented actor from the UK who just happened to be rolling through LA at the time and liked the script. What struck me initially was that he has a kind face and a strong, warm presence — it’s easy to care about him. Putting a person with strength like that in a vulnerable position seemed to be the most dramatic.

Should we fear the characters painted in white?

You’ll know when you meet them.

Any more Fly Lo collaborations in the pipeline?

I can only hope!

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Young Replicant: Coronus, The Terminator (still)

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Young Replicant: Coronus, The Terminator (still)

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Young Replicant: Coronus, The Terminator (still)

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Young Replicant: Coronus, The Terminator (still)

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Young Replicant: Coronus, The Terminator (still)

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Young Replicant: Coronus, The Terminator (still)