Work / Film

Lucy Hardcastle on her “most progressive film to date”

Riposte has commissioned an Iceland-inspired series featuring the work of a crew of female creatives on the occasion of the release of the new Levi’s Made & Crafted AW/17 collection. At the heart of the collaboration is Alda, a short film shot in camera by artist Lucy Hardcastle accompanied with a soundscape by producer Nabihah Iqbal.

Alda, Riposte explain, is “a short film that explores the awe-inspiring elements of Iceland – both the physical and spiritual. Alda moves through different acts from a turbulent, dark and primal beginning through to a light and sensual finale. Each act reflects the various physical elements of Iceland from the rumbling and expansive volcanoes to the exhilarating hot springs and glaciers.”

Curious to hear more about what went into making the hypnotising fire-and-ice-inspired short, we caught up with Lucy Hardcastle.

How did the commission come about?

Danielle at Riposte contacted me about the commission, on the premise that Levi’s Made & Crafted wanted to create a collaborative project to celebrate their new collection, which explored their inspiration points of Iceland’s landscape, ‘the land of fire and ice’. A key element to the development of the film was creating something that transported you to this other place, which I feel is something people love about my work.

Tell us about your relationship with Iceland.

I’ve only been to Iceland a few times but it feels like a home away from home, the dream would be to have a studio there where I can disappear and make work for months at a time. The energy and the air feel completely different there, everything is still quite untouched and respectful of nature. For me, it’s a place to unwind, reflect and appreciate because it’s incredibly calming there. Whenever I visit I always take photographs for visual research of my own, so I was lucky that I had all this primary research to work from. I don’t know how best to describe this but its as if no one has a mobile phone there, in the way that theres no frantic radio wave energy and constant hum in the air that you get in a city, it’s like a brain detox!

How did you go about reflecting your impressions of the country into abstract representations?

I translated how I’d been influenced by Iceland by considering the true power of nature which is undeniable there.
I imagined it as the spirit of a girl, as Alda is a traditional girl’s name meaning wave, by humanising that there are different moods and emotions occurring. The three acts break down what Icelandic nature is known for — firey volcanic eruptions, stunning glaciers and incredible natural colours (e.g. Northern Lights). It was key to have a material narrative that explored an unpredictability that was physical and spiritual in relation to the country. In my mind, I would think of the acts almost like the sleep cycle, so act one is very dark, you’re falling into a deep slumber, act two is when you’re in this lucid dream of vibrant beauty, and act three is clarity when you’re waking up and everything’s too bright.

Alda represents a movement away from the digital, since it was captured in-camera. Can you give us an insight into the processes behind it?

I’ve made a few music videos and some commercial idents before. I know that I’m known for making work that is digitally native, and I didn’t want to lose sight of with this piece so this came from visual cues, including liquids, vapours, melting reflections and hyper real colours and textures. I felt this was a great challenge to show how I can still provide the same feel as my digital work but with material processes, I believe this film is still of my aesthetic.

I would say that this is the first time using live action filming where I’ve created a strong narrative with a storyboard to match, which has then been combined with the amazing soundscape to tell a story. So in that sense, it feels like my most progressive film to date and a step forward for my skills in storytelling through moving image. I always enjoy playing with scale and having the viewer question that, that was a key technique to make you feel small and vulnerable watching it. I also have an amazing DOP who I often work with called Gareth Williams, for example we chose to use a light where you can tell it what colour to be down to the RGB code, and has a flickering action so we were able to create the different atmospheres for the scenes that way. I always take inspiration from playing with set design, and testing material techniques, I had a lot of fun developing my jelly and ice skills, using dry ice for the first time and creating a contraption to get dry ice bubbles!

You mentioned this was the most fun you’ve on a project. Why is that?

Levi’s was an amazing client to work with, the team loved everything the whole way through, every stage was a thumbs up from them, which meant when it came to the shoot day and editing process I got to really enjoy myself and feel supported. I got to make the vision I had in mind with no compromises which was an amazing opportunity.