Undressing The Viking, commissioned by the council and made by Parashoots
Tourists, and a fair few residents, consider York a place of tradition and history. But there’s another side to the city which has emerged over the last few years.
It’s a place of hidden cinemas, cool cocktail bars, vintage chic, artisan delis and modern art galleries. And that York has now been captured for a council-commissioned promotional film by Parashoots, based on Pavement.
We caught up with the company’s creative director, Paul Richardson (pictured below right). And his answers are occasionally supplemented by those of project leader Nathalie Czarnecki.
What inspired Undressing The Viking?
City of York Council commissioned Parashoots to produce a film that would show a different side of York which is unknown for many, even for locals who have lived in York for their whole lives. It was important to celebrate an aspect of the city which is not only about tourism or university life, to show that York is fun, different, alternative and actually magical. Because there are places and spots in the city with a special aura and atmosphere.
It is authentic. The concept that we pitched was inspired by a scene in Spaced in which Tim and Daisy debate what the plan is for a night on the town. The viewer is given a glimpse of two contrasting plans and we felt this was a fun and compelling narrative device that allowed us to take the viewer on a whirlwind tour of York’s hidden treasures.
It promotes a new side to York. How do you think the city has changed over the last few years?
There appears to be an emerging grassroots community of creative entrepreneurs who have a hunger for York to become more forward-thinking and “happening” place to be, including innovative new businesses such as Bison Coffee, The Blind Swine and One&Other. This is matched by the city’s ambitions for York to forge an international reputation as a vibrant centre of culture and innovation. There is now a real sense of momentum that bodes well for the future.
How did you decide which places to feature in the film?
The project leader at the council, Nathalie Czarnecki, spent many weeks researching and compiling an exhaustive list of businesses and venues that could be classed as “hidden treasures”. Then together we whittled this down to a manageable list that would make narrative and geographical sense within the context of the film.
We created two contrasting storylines that complimented the characters’ personalities: Nadia is quite whimsical and is attracted to things that are natural and hand-crafted, whereas Zoe is more socially outgoing and technologically savvy.
Tell us about your two actors.
Margaréta Szabó (Nadia) is a Greco-Hungarian actor who has recently moved to York. She is highly experienced and has even worked with Angelina Jolie. Anabel Kutay is from the North and now based in London. Her background is in ballet and musical theatre but is now branching out into dramatic acting. We auditioned many actors for the parts and Margaréta and Anabel stood out instantly for their striking looks and attitude as well as acting ability of course.
Did the filming go smoothly or were their any hitches on the way?
Overall the filming went very well – we were fortunate with the weather – however there were the inevitable issues to overcome as with any film shoot. We had just three days to shoot but numerous locations to cover and one or two sadly fell by the wayside. But we also had a lot of fun along the way. I can think of worse things to do with my time than filming girls dressing up.
What are your hopes for the film?
We want people to enjoy watching it as a film and not feel they are being advertised to. But ultimately the film has a promotional agenda and we hope it will encourage people – whether residents or visitors – to seek out the less obvious places to go, in order to increase footfall to small businesses that would otherwise struggle for publicity. We also hope that anyone who’s thinking of setting up a business will see the film and consider York as a viable location.
What are you working on now?
In my role as creative director of Parashoots I’m currently spinning the usual plates with shooting, editing, prepping, pitching across several projects. We certainly hope to work on more projects like Undressing The Viking, which we like to think is a bit different from the standard promotional content you find online – certainly locally. You can’t force anybody to watch a video online, so we are convinced that genuinely engaging storytelling is the only way to get a message out there.
We treat each brief as an opportunity to create something unique and memorable that people enjoy watching and want to talk about and share with their friends and colleagues. As an independent filmmaker I’m finalising a couple of short dramas I’ve directed as well as developing a feature film which I hope to start shooting in 2013.
For you, what are the best and worst things about living and working in York?
Nathalie – Best: intimacy. Worst: claustrophobia caused by feeling isolated inside the city walls (probably just me though).
Paul – Best: It’s a big village so it’s relatively quick and easy to socialise and make contacts. Worst: There is far less of a media industry presence than places such as London, Leeds and Manchester. However there are numerous positive signs that this is beginning to change.
Name your favourite: place to eat; place to drink; book; film; band.
Nathalie – Eat: The Evil Eye.
Drink: Sotano, Evil Eye or my room.
Book: Haruki Murakami, Kafka.
Film: absolutely Kill Bill 2
Band: Zeppelin, Warpaint, Björk (deep house, nothing compared to a good tune. Mmm…)
Paul – Place to eat & drink: House of The Trembling Madness
Book: currently Rites by Sophie Coulombeau (who co-wrote the script of Undressing The Viking)
Band: The Stone Roses, closely followed by The Doors
Who inspires you?
Film directors such as David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Ridley Scott, George Lucas; my friends.
Which actors would you most like to work with, and on what sort of film?
Nobody in particular, I’m more interested in who is right for the part. I have ambitions to direct psychological thrillers and I’ve definitely got a science fiction film in me.