Unleash the Dragons

M.I.A. and Gener8ion Collaborate with German Director for Latest Music Video The New International Sound (Pt. II) is the new single featuring typically rabble-rousing vocals from British music phenomenon M.I.A. and pounding rhythms from French producer Gener8ion aka Surkin. The sound is epic and they needed visuals to match. Enter stage left Inigo Westmeier, the German director of Dragon Girls, a documentary following three young female students at China’s largest martial arts school for children. “Music videos are a new genre for me, I did some work in that direction years ago as Director of Photography,” explains Inigo. “I like having the curiosity of a child when there’s a chance to approach something new. I was thrilled to see how this would develop, especially with an artist like M.I.A.” 1 The video uses clips from Dragon Girls which depicts as many as 36,000 students at a time, juxtaposed with the more personal moments of the girls. Thanks to some clever editing, the result is a harmonious marriage of two creative projects. “The editing shows something that fascinated me throughout: it’s the contrast of the masses and the individual portraits of the girls, whose faces almost seem like the ones of grown-ups. And still, once in a while, the child shines through.” We got the thoughts of Inigo on adapting his work for the music video: The Plus: Was there a particular narrative you were trying to convey during the editing process? Inigo Westmeier: M.I.A. seems quite critical of today’s society, I believe it’s two things that matter to her which Genera8tion wanted to reflect when selecting the video. On the one hand, it’s about monitoring and control and the resulting lack of privacy. It doesn’t matter if it has its roots in the logic of the digital revolution or if it’s imposed by some sort of organized structure. The other side is Genera8tion’s understanding of the story of Dragon Girls. The struggle of the three girls fits with M.I.A.’s support of women’s and girl’s rights. Both the life of so many people in so little space as well as the strength and will of the girls are perfectly reflected in the video. 2 TP: It must have been a unique challenge shooting so many people at once, can you tell us about that? IW: Yes, it was. During the shooting, every day when I woke up, people told me ‘this is impossible’. At night I went to sleep with thinking ‘ok, I did the impossible,’ only to wake up the next morning, hearing again ‘this is impossible!’ 4 TP: You’ve done a lot of documentaries, how does it differ working on a music video? IW: It was a challenge for me, because it’s a completely different thinking process. The main point of the film was to tell a story. Here, I came into another range, one that is more about explaining through music and leaving out the dialogues of the girls, which I knew so well. We are left with just the music and the picture, which is wonderful. 3 TP: What are you working on now? IW: Right now, I’m working on a fiction movie, which Open Window Film is producing and where I’m combining my experience in documentary and fiction. I’m working with new colours, new sound and new ways to experience acting in a more authentic way. 6