Bananaz, a 91-minute behind the scenes documentary on Gorillaz features post-production work by Prime Focus London. Filmmaker Ceri Levy began following Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, the creative minds behind Gorillaz in 2000, trying to document the initial ideas behind the band.
Ceri carried on filming as the band became more successful, eventually wrapping things up in 2006. It took Ceri and editor Seb Monk two years to work through and cut down all the footage that had been gathered. The resulting film is an intimate, honest and often hilarious account of the working relationship between Albarn and Hewlett, which premiered online at Babelgum on Monday 20 April. This will be followed by a theatrical release, with the DVD released on Monday 1 June.
“This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be in on the ground floor of a project with a view to recording the whole building being built” says Ceri, who previously worked with Albarn in his Blur days. “So often filmmaker’s only have two weeks access at not very close quarters, and the film becomes diluted. I think Bananaz really engages the audience and because Damon and Jamie are friends of mine, it became up close and personal."
photo by Pennie Smith
The whole film was shot on Mini DV and Ceri wanted to play around with the overall look of the film.
“Working with Mini DV was interesting because I think it's the video equivalent of Super 8 and we had many ideas for playing and experimenting with the style and feel of the picture,” said Ceri. “Duncan Russell was brilliant in TK as he got into our ridiculous ideas of colouring and experimentation. It was a case of anything goes and we worked on taking the noise out of the picture and then spent ages in Smoke dirtying it up again, but in a different way.
"Not the normal process but Cynthia (Lee), Truss (Jon Trussler) and Ian (Baker) got into the whole guerilla approach to post production. I think what we did was avant garde and totally radical in approach and application.”
PFL’s Duncan Russell who graded the project said: “On Bananaz we decided to use all the foibles and eccentricities of the tape as positives to be embraced rather than try to eliminate or hide them. One of the advantages of mini DV is that its grain structure looks a bit like film, so when it’s under exposed or blown up very large (or both) it takes on a naturally filmic look.
"On top of adopting a policy of using the doco style to our advantage, we subtly re-lit scenes and gave the odd colour cast to add a little spice to a scene but never so much as to override the raw footage. The content of the film is artful, rambunctious, anarchic and creative and I think that helps the grade along.”