News / Film

Novo Amor & Ed Tullett’s video displays the toxic working conditions of Ijen volcano miners

To accompany Novo Amor & Ed Tullett’s third single, Terraform, the pair have enlisted filmmakers Sil and Jorik to soundtrack the song to the ethereal landscape of Ijen, a volcano complex in Indonesia.

The film displays the difficult physical graft undertaken by the miners in order to support their families. “When Jorik first discovered Kawah Ijen, he was overwhelmed by the other-worldliness and cinematic qualities of the landscape, and by the real story of the miners working in it,” one half of the filmmakers Sil tells It’s Nice That.

The strength taken to work in “extremely challenging and toxic conditions of the crater simply to sustain their family,” encouraged the filmmakers to not only document it but help support, setting up the Ijen Assistance to help improve the lives of porters and fund the education of miner’s children. A percentage of Terraform’s sales will go toward the Ijen Assitance. “We were so touched by the miners’ stories and their warmheartedness in spite of it, that we felt no other choice but to raise awareness to try and help them.” The programme is linked to Heinz von Holden, who previously introduced equipment such as trolleys for the miners to carry the sulphur, and whose foundation sends the miners’ children to school, providing the miners with shoes and clothes also. “We learned a relatively small sum of money, which means relatively little to us, means a lot to them and literally takes an incredible weight off of the miners’ shoulders.”

The aim of the film was to find a way “to tell their story on a very personal level, trying to balance the scale of the immense sulphur crater with something equally powerful on an intimate level; the loving connection between a father and his daughter,” says Sil. As a result, the music video cuts between footage of a miner working, and his close relationship with his daughter. “We set out to tell the story as true as possible and we wanted to use a real miner with his real family so everything felt honest.”

The shoot itself appears like an impossible task, due to the video’s incredible and unbelievable shots of the volcano. “The shoot was physically intense, which was good because it made us experience what the miners go through each day,” Sil explains. Driving to the base of the mountain, the crew climbed to the top of Ijen before descending 300m into the crater. “Down at the crater, the pure sulphur smoke plumes are ever thick and the wind constantly changes its direction. Once the smoke hits you, the cloud is so thick and big there is no way to escape it. Even with out gas masks and goggles on it was unbearable as the smoke stings in the eyes and lungs, making it almost impossible to breathe at times. But the miners have no masks or goggles.” With just a piece of cloth over their mouth, the miners often carry 95kg of sulphur on their backs. Despite these conditions, Sil explains “what surprised us was the miner’s attitude. In order to make it through a workday they make jokes and try to smile. They look after each other like family and remain positive.”

Additionally, none of the working conditions for Terraform are staged: “The smoke, the landscape and working miners are all unaltered,” says Sil. Covering the cameras from sulphur fumes allowed the directors to “film right in the middle of it,” also using drones to “set the scale of the landscape”. The crew additionally built a rigging system, “in between trees on a schoolyard with the help of local teachers,” to achieve the affect of the family floating in air, “then we set up a small green screen against a wall behind the trees, it worked surprising well”.

On the music video that accompanies their latest single, Ali and Ed who make up Novo Amor & Ed Tullett, explain that “the song itself is about realising, after whatever, that you yourself are ‘hospitable’ again, that you can support human interaction once more — in a sense ‘terraforming’ yourself, metaphorically… Ijen feels like it represents that in a more literal way.” Overall, Terraform’s video does this in the most honest, and apt way. “Everything was already there,” says Sil. “We simply had to tell it."

Novo Amor & Ed Tullett’s album, Heiress, is to be released on 10 November on AllPoints.

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Sil and Jorik: Terraform by Novo Amor & Ed Tullett

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Sil and Jorik: Terraform by Novo Amor & Ed Tullett

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Sil and Jorik: Terraform by Novo Amor & Ed Tullett

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Sil and Jorik: Terraform by Novo Amor & Ed Tullett

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Sil and Jorik: Terraform by Novo Amor & Ed Tullett

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Sil and Jorik: Terraform by Novo Amor & Ed Tullett

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Sil and Jorik: Terraform by Novo Amor & Ed Tullett

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Sil and Jorik: Terraform by Novo Amor & Ed Tullett

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Sil and Jorik: Terraform by Novo Amor & Ed Tullett

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Sil and Jorik: Terraform by Novo Amor & Ed Tullett

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Sil and Jorik: Terraform by Novo Amor & Ed Tullett

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Sil and Jorik: Terraform by Novo Amor & Ed Tullett

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Sil and Jorik: Terraform by Novo Amor & Ed Tullett