Interview: Director Ben Mor talks Coldplay, Beyoncé and the making of ‘Hymn For The Weekend’

29.01.2016 - Posted by : Black Dog Films

Ben Mor with Coldplay

‘Hymn For The Weekend’ is Coldplay’s anthemic collaboration with Beyoncé, taken from their latest album A Head Full of Dreams. Recently, Ben Mor teamed up with the British rock band to deliver a kaleidoscopic and cinematic music video for the track. Shot on location in India, the experience was a dream come true for the Black Dog director, who was deeply inspired by the colors and people. The resulting visuals are a love letter of sorts – one that exalts the country’s culture, vivid hues and extravagant style.

We recently sat down with Ben to find out about working with some of the biggest pop stars on the planet, what the experience of shooting amid “patina heaven” was like, and how he executed his stunning vision to make the surreal real…

What was it like collaborating with Chris Martin and Coldplay? 
Collaborating with Chris and the guys was a true pleasure. Once they felt like I had a vision for the video they empowered me in every way and completely trusted me to do what I do. The entire Coldplay team are honestly some of the nicest most well adjusted people I have ever met.

What kind of a team did you take with you to India to shoot this? 
I took my Cinematographer as well as a B Unit Operator and my Producer. Everyone else was local.

What are you hoping people will feel watching the video? 
‘Hymn For The Weekend’ is such an exuberant, life-affirming song and I wanted the visuals to compliment and heighten that tone. At the same time I wanted to spark peoples imagination and curiosity as they watch just a small fraction of what India has to offer.

You’ve said that it was your dream to shoot in India. What was it like to have that experience come to fruition? 
If you work in a visual medium you have to be moved by India. It’s hard to take a bad picture there. The amount of sensory stimulus you experience in a place like Mumbai is nothing short of overwhelming. Now that I’ve had the pleasure of filming there all I can think of is going back for more!

You have infused a lot of surrealism into the video. Can you tell us about some of the effects used in the video and what they mean to you?
When you take a closer look at India, surrealism and psychedelia immediately come to mind, at least to mine! I tried to use the special effects in a way that just heightened what was already there. Almost trying to make the surreal real.

How did you come to meet and film the projectionist and the kids playing near the water?
We had scouted this incredible 1920s movie theater in the heart of Mumbai. On the day of the shoot the guy that was tasked with turning on the lights for us turned out to be the lifelong projectionist of that same theater. He said he had been working in that theater for over 30 years! We asked him to demonstrate to us how he turns on this ancient Arclight Projector and we watched in awe as he had that thing ready to go and spooled with film in seconds flat.

As for the swimming kids, we went to shoot a scene in an incredible location called Banganga Tank which is a giant rectangular pool surrounded by steps on all sides. While filming a completely different scene, these young local kids were running all over the place and dive bombing into the water. We eventually gave up on our ‘planned’ shot and just started filming the kids having the best time of their life.

You transformed Beyoncé into a Bollywood actress for the video. Did shooting that feel like you were capturing something iconic?
I had communicated to Beyoncé and her camp the vibe and direction we were aiming for and when I walked into her dressing room before the shoot and saw all the incredible wardrobe pieces they pulled I was floored. I knew we only needed two looks and there was enough great stuff for 20 looks! Needless to say when she emerged from the dressing room with her final selections I immediately realized we were filming something special.

Finally, do you have a hope of how this video will be received in Mumbai and Delhi and the places you shot in India? 
I sincerely hope that our love and respect for the culture and people of India comes across loud and clear in the video. And that they feel proud for inspiring some of the biggest pop stars on the planet.

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