Training The Senses

A Captivating Drum Solo Tranforms A Chicago Train Ride

A black and white tour of Chicago from a train shot by Hugo Rück: atmospheric, fast-paced and abstract, desirable and, less, desirable parts of the city flash past accompanied by the drums of musician Buddy Rich.

Filmed on a 5D Mark III, we experience life from inside and outside the train but always with the rhythmic sound of the tracks, from the jazz drum solo, reminding us of it’s presence. The absence of colour serves to highlight the subtle nuances in the environment – our eyes become accustomed to it almost immediately and we start to differentiate between shades, moods and beats.


“This short film represents to me the beauty in being able to express yourself; maybe it is just an audiovisual format, but is one of many ways one can show the world what you see while providing insight into your perspective. Just like the other short films I have done, “Chicago Train” has given me the satisfaction of having described, with utmost freedom, what I feel about something. Trains always fascinated me, and I am grateful for having the opportunity to capture it, to later return it to everyone in the way that amazes me.”


The landscape flashes by, sometimes busy, bustling cityscapes and sometimes our eyes are drawn to the singular moving thing in a desolate surrounding: a flapping bird. Beat for beat, the melody of the drum intertwines with the visuals, our minds race at the speed dictated by the beat.


Minute details, such as the passing lights reflecting on the rain spattered train windows, become a thing of beauty. We are in the habit of viewing journeys as simply the necessary part of getting to a destination, and in this mind set we miss the beauty of it. We miss the music of the tracks and the way the city fits together: we miss out on life.


We caught up with Hugo to find out more.

The Plus: Why black and white?
Hugo Rück:
I would like to explain it this way: the spirit of the short was to make a couple between the rhythm and image. Even though we know that both are rich in nuances and colors, I wanted them to be placed in a grayscale environment, that way, the contrast in the images will be more substantial, just like the marvelous contrast in the drum beat. I wanted them to both be in the limelight and united in marriage, under the harmony of the editing off course.


TP: Why did you choose “Buddy Rich – Caravan”?
I came to the conclusion that if the pace of the train was to be translated into music, it should be done with the thumping of a percussion instrument. For that reason I couldn’t find something more suited to Chicago’s musical culture, but a jazz drum solo. Buddy Rich was the world’s greatest drummer during his career, and a master in the use of power and speed, an exact embodiment of the train.


TP: How long did it take to shoot?
3 days to film and about 30 to edit.

TP: Do you think you will create different versions of the “train” video for other cities?
That sounds interesting! To me, there’s nothing more beautiful than traveling the word. If I can find a way of doing it, maybe I will take your idea and do it.


TP: Tell us a little bit more about yourself.
I was born in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. I have lived in Buenos Aires, Honduras and Los Angeles. Since I was a little kid I wanted to study film, but in Bolivia, there were no film programs so I enrolled in graphic design because at least it had some visual aspects to it. This led me to a 12-year career in advertising as art director, copywriter and creative director. It was a good fit because it was a career based on storytelling, and I really enjoyed that. There came a point though, that the experience on this, took me to stop this train at a precise moment and decide to get down. The creativity in advertising is a profession where creative liberty is frustrated all the time, because in the end, the owner of the idea is not yourself anymore, but the client’s. Personally I decided I didn’t need that, and I wouldn’t return to doing something that is filtered in bad taste or with someone else’s lack of judgment. If my work is going to have errors, I want them to be mine, no someone else’s. Despite that, the advertising experience taught me and gave me a lot, but I had to leave it behind also because I have started being more honest with my values, and I could not be a proponent of things that I don’t agree with. For the first time I feel like I have 100% creative autonomy, and I am focusing on trying to find what is most relevant to me: doing what I have wanted to do since I was a kid.