Essential: Works is an interview format that Directors Library regularly hosts with film and video Directors. We ask Directors to name three key works under the film, campaign and music video categories that have been influential to them and their work. We hope that the series will broaden horizons of reference and acknowledge works from the back catalogue that have been important on a Director’s journey.
For our sixth instalment, we got in touch with Young Replicant.
You can check out Young Replicant’s recent music video below and other work on the link →.
Movements (Chapter III) – Leon Vynehall
Directed by Young Replicant
Below are Young Replicant’s picks and what he had to say:
Essential: Films – Young Replicant
I tend to gravitate to slow and cerebral but I’m also a super fan of The Matrix, so who knows. I put these in rough chronological order, from early influences to the most recent. I didn’t include any Tarkovsky just for a challenge, but also because he doesn’t need any of my hype.
1. Rosetta (1999)
Directed by Jean Dardenne and Luc Dardenne →
Rosetta was my introduction to the Dardenne brothers and their unsentimental, deeply empathetic films. This is one that kicks you right in the human condition. I love how hyper focused it is; the long lens stays glued to Émilie Dequenne’s face (or at least the back of her head), immersing you in her personal experience while feigning docu-style objectivity. She plays the title character with feral intensity; a girl determined to hold a job and live with dignity in our capitalist hellworld. The premise is bleak, but the film isn’t and Rosetta is a character I’ve never forgotten.
2. A Prophet (2009)
Directed by Jacques Audiard
Audiard is the link between my love for arthouse and genre film. Like Rosetta, it’s deeply subjective cinema, but Audiard uses a much wider range of expressive techniques and magic realism to achieve the effect. It’s also about a complete outsider; someone on the margins who doesn’t fit into society or the identity group in which they’re pigeon holed. I’ve always been interested in these kinds of characters, and it’s actually what all three of these films share in common.
3. Hors Satan (Outside Satan) (2011)
Directed by Bruno Dumont →
I’m a sucker for restraint and movies about the devil so this is exactly my shit. The formal stoicism in this film is almost superhuman; the shots are long, narrative exposition is nil, and the characters rarely speak. The film is a hypnotic, metaphysical riddle that unfolds across a coastal landscape full of Old Testament, moral ambiguity. It’s spiritual cinema in the tradition of Robert Bresson, but lacks any clean religious analogies. I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
Essential: Music Videos – Young Replicant
A medium very close to my heart. For the sake of variety, I’ll skip some of the Directors Label DVD era classics that I love and go with picks that are slightly more contemporary. These videos are mostly from the late aughts, early teens, when digital cinema was democratizing and there was a music video boom. Each pick represents a signpost in my career, something that hit hard and made me approach my own videos differently.
1. When I Grow Up – Fever Ray (2009)
Directed by Martin de Thurah →
All three videos on this list could’ve been Martin De Thruah, but this is the one I saw when I was 19 and just starting to direct. It’s got teenage rebellion, societal fear of the feminine, and a gloomy, suburban magic realism that I loved. It flirts with what you could call “mysticism” but doesn’t fall into the trap of showing too much or fully committing to any hokeyness. It stays grounded and doesn’t try to explain itself, which is the key to it’s eerie power. Still a perfect video for me.
2. Parix – When Saints Go Machine (2011)
Directed by Daniel Kragh-Jacobsen
An elegant and understated coming of age story. The entire video fits in a narrow sliver between night and day, giving it a heightened, liminal texture that I found moving and magical. It opened my mind to how subtle a narrative video could be, and how mundane moments could be charged with emotion if you captured them the right way and in the right light.
3. Until the Quiet Comes – Flying Lotus (2012)
Directed by Kahlil Joseph
The video that launched a thousand imitations. Kahlil’s rhythmic discontinuity, refusal of norms, and materially rooted black aesthetics expanded the possibilities for music videos and film. His earlier work for Shabazz Palaces and later for Kendrick Lamar is perhaps more representative of this style overall, but Flying Lotus was the first piece that seemed to change the visual landscape. It uses a unique formal language to carve out space for the subconscious and the subaltern, broadening horizons in the process. It’s cinema as jazz, and for the first time in a long time, offered something truly new and subversive.
Other slightly more obscure essentials if you’re already familiar with these are Connan Mockasin – Faking Jazz Together by Fleur & Manu, The Shoes – Stay The Same by Daniel Wolf and Clark – Black Stone Fortress by The Vikings.
Essential: Commercials – Young Replicant
I’m a big fan of PSAs and brand idents; they’re a little bit of an easier sell and sometimes very close to music videos. I don’t know any people who actually enjoy being advertised to, so we’ve evolved this rich, elaborate art form to keep everyone from going nuts. A great commercial is really an against-all-odds thing of wonder which, if you’re familiar with the process of making them, has little business existing at all. So when we’re presented with a good one, I try to take notes.
1. Channel 4 Idents (2015)
Directed by Jonathan Glazer
Uncanny, novel images. The dovetailing of spectacle and mystery is perfect.
2. Sheep – European Parliament (2014)
Directed by Koen Mortier →
There’s nothing like the Belgian commercial market. I guess voting in America is already a surreal catastrophe, so a campaign like this wouldn’t have the same ironic effect here. The editing really makes it. When a project calls for comedic, off-kilter timing, I always reference Koen.
3. The Man Who Couldn’t Slow Down – Henessey (2013)
Directed by Martin de Thurah →
There was a week where I’d watch this once a day, just to get fired-up on the viennese psychoanalysis. It was the first ad I’d seen in a while that genuinely got me excited about making commercials. It’s a mini epic, sheds light on an obscure part of history and is full of poetic abstractions that look fun to shoot.