New Director Elliott Gonzo Glows with the Flow in This Sensuous Promo
Lucid dreaming, exploring story through dance and following raw instinct helped self-taught director Elliott Gonzo create this dazzling new promo for Aneek Thapar's Glow.
How did you get into directing?
I’ve studied art my whole life and when I got to university, I decided I wanted to make sets, so I took a production design for film course. There, I developed my personal directing style and started creating work to reflect this. It was around this time that I also got into researching lucid dreaming. I’ve since tried manipulating my dreams to inspire my cinematic work. I’ve also looked into various directing theories; to try and get a sense of different auteur styles and channel various elements into my own work.
“I’ve tried manipulating my dreams to inspire my cinematic work. I’ve also looked into various directing theories; to try and get a sense of different auteur styles.”
What keeps you inspired and what do you love most about the creative industry?
Filmmakers like Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Terry Gilliam and Darren Aronofsky are huge inspirations. I love watching films that push the boundaries of cinema and offer viewers different experiences. Daily life also inspires me; I like to twist the world around me, taking all that is mundanely familiar and redesigning it into hyperreal scenarios. This is how I usually begin working on a short film or music video.
The promo is a very sensual piece; talk us through the camera techniques you used to create the overall feeling.
The camera moves fluidly between movements and environments as if floating through a dream, almost from the perspective of an out-of-body experience. The camera moves in a way that mimics Aneek’s tone, which helps to bind all the narrative elements together. The overall intention was to create a seamlessly-flowing dream world.
Still from Glow
What was it like using dance as a vehicle to tell the story?
This was the first time I’ve used professional dancers within a project. I wanted to play around with physical movement to convey a storyline without using any words. In this film, Benny’s ethereal dancing complemented the music perfectly and delivered the story in a way that words couldn’t.
Dancer from Glow
Were you looking for any specific qualities in your actors and if so, what were they?
I’m usually quite instinctive when it comes to casting; I don’t always have a strict, preconceived list of requirements. It’s more to do with how I connect with an actor when we meet or if they can show me a side to the character that I hadn’t yet imagined.
What were the biggest challenges in bringing the film to life?
Budget is always a challenge; it seems that no matter what it is, it’s never enough. But it does mean [you have to use] a lot of initiative.
On this job, you were the director and the editor. Do you enjoy having overall creative control?
It varies – sometimes it feels essential to carry out both roles – especially if it’s a particularly unusual concept or I have a distinct idea for the narrative that could be hard to relay to someone. Other times though, it helps to have a second eye over it.
How would you like your directing career to go?
Ultimately, I’d like to make a fiction feature.
What have you learnt so far as a director?
That collaboration and trusting other artists is key. I don’t want to be precious about my visions.