Crafting the recent film Kyle Kettler and I made for True North Elite was primarily an exercise in crafting a mood. The purpose was very little about transmitting a message or selling a product or even an idea. It was much more about depicting the essence of the fanbase TNE attracts. The beautiful thing about that goal for this group is that their essence is a beautiful rainbow. There are certainly through lines (Red Wing boots and Denim most predominantly) but aside from that this is a very diverse group of individuals. Standing in the stands of the TNE group on match day I heard thick accents from at least 5 different regions all chanting in unison supporting the team they love.
When Kyle first approached me with this idea over 6 months prior to release day he had a crystal clear vision for the mood the video was to embody. Ruggedness, Resilience, togetherness and Industry, were all words he used to describe who Minnesotans are at the core, and those are the unifying things that TNE values in the diversity of fans it brings to match day.
Translating these ideas into a visual and sonic experience came down too a few core elements.
Grey, black, and blue became staples. This works out well because it’s the team's color palette but these are also colors that feel strong and rooted. They may take on a foreboding and ominous roll throughout but also pay off toward the end with a sense of community and camaraderie.
Working on a very tight budget meant we had to create a texture palette through highly critical location choice. Metal, cement and rock became our best friends. From grain elevators to highway overpasses, caves cliffs, and radio towers, we scoured the Minnesota landscape for locations that would complement the colors. The one textural element we injected into the project was the smoke. We aimed to embody the ever present "spirit" TNE and all of the MN United FC fans have become.
The soccer fanbase here is on the move and growing. They are coming out of the woodwork and appearing everywhere. We made a deliberate choice early on in the planning to capture as much of the action as possible from a moving vehicle. We made this choice because we wanted to capture this as a phenomenon we are documenting. This choice also had the side effect of balancing out the ruggedness and tension with a very smooth and grounded feel.
The iconic shot of the pile-driver pulsing up and down was shot on my iPhone one day as I was driving by. We had been trying to get this shot for weeks, with our full car rig setup but the machine seemed to be on no particular schedule and within a few days of getting the shot we used, the pile-driver had been taken down. The rest however was shot on a Freefly Systems MōVI mounted to our production car via a Rigwheels cloud mount vibration isolator. This allowed for precise control and smooth movement.
We knew from the beginning we wanted a naturalistic feel to the sound design. One day I was walking into the office and I heard the pile-driver clanging off in the distance and it reminded me of the scene from Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of the Great Gatsby where they are driving through “The Valley of Ashes” and the pulse of the music emerges from the hammering of a construction worker. I knew immediately this had to be the sound that drove the piece as a sonic “pulse of the city”, or a “bass drum of industry” if you will. This fairly naturally gave birth to the idea of that sound evolving into the boom of the bass drum that accompanies the chants sung at the soccer matches. Beyond that, in post we did a lot of foley work to give a defined but subtle character to the sounds of the flags, and other elements in the video.
We worked with Amy Overgaard on the script. We knew the feel we wanted but both Kyle and I felt like we didn’t have the command of the english language enough to live up to our vision. We conveyed that vision to Amy through many sample videos as well as some of the descriptor words mentioned above. Amy was able to take that and run with it. We were blown away by her first draft and from there went through several revisions, working with the visuals as we created them. When crafting narration there is a fine line between the words complementing the visuals and distracting from them or worse, describing them. Towing this line meant cutting out much of the literal descriptions from the script and holding on to the most emotive elements.
"Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal;" -T.S. Elliot.
Kyle and I talked a lot about inspiration as we began working on this. Here are several videos that we watched meticulously as we thought through this project. Each with a quick note on what we grabbed onto most.