Lift / Radiohead / Oscar Hudson / 2017
I am not usually one for going literal with an idea, but I’ve wanted to do something with a lift because lifts are the only room where the doors open onto different places. That seemed to work well just as a metaphor that you could take in all kinds of directions. I didn’t feel like it was the faux pas that sometimes it feels like just to reference the song directly. Yeah, sure the song is called “Lift,” and it talks about a lift, but it’s a lift in metaphor even in the song. ➡︎
Very early on I decided that I didn’t want the lift to become a sort of magic tardis that can take you anywhere. I preferred the idea that it was grounded in a single location and universe, and I wanted to use the repetition of the hallway scene as an anchor throughout. A green screen approach would have lent itself better to a lift-as-tardis version, but the surrealism I am generally more interested in is a slightly more grounded, mundane variety.
Since we didn’t shoot in a real lift, we had to figure out a way of changing the hallway scenes outside the doors nice and fast. We did this by constructing all our hallway sets so that they could slide sideways in front of the lift on a waxed floor. We also pre-programmed all our lighting set ups into a desk so we could easily change these in sequence too. Throw in actors, prop changes, the manually-operated lift doors, and the timings of all the cues into this equation and you have a hell of a lot that can go wrong!
I wrote the script based on the characters that I thought belonged in that kind of building, which I imagined to be some kind of London tower block. I wanted the characters and the floors to be in a dialogue with each other as they moved down the building. As well as this I thought about the track, its meaning and its place in Radiohead history, and tried to let that in without letting it dominate the film.
I just asked [Thom Yorke] to try to channel that very polite sense of awkwardness that you find in lifts, all the nods, half smiles and shift eyes, it’s something everyone is familiar with. Lifts have a social dynamic unlike any other public place, the intimate bodily proximity, the way you’re travelling through a nowhere-place between floors with a total stranger for short bursts of time. All this naturally produces a pretty ripe kind of tension, and performance wise you don’t need much more to bring that out. Less is more really. ➡︎
▶︎ BTS of the final sequence in the Radiohead video / Oscar Hudson / Instagram