Biting elbows’ blood-soaked video earns praise from frank ocean, darren aronofsky
It helps, of course, when that video has more blood geysers than a Quentin Tarantino/ Robert Rodriguez highlight reel and the look and feel of the most terrifying/exhilarating first-person shooter video game ever made.
Welcome to the world of “Bad Motherf—er,” (Editor’s note: clip contains violent imagery) the music video by Russian indie punk band Biting Elbows, which has racked up nearly 10 million views since it was posted on YouTube on March 18.
“My friends have been waking me up in the middle of the night with screenshots from Twitter,” singer/ video director Ilya Naishuller told MTV News via phone this week about the “so well done” props from the “Black Swan” director. “I set out to do something good, but you don’t expect Darren Aronofsky to say it’s good.”
The five-minute clip follows the travails of an unseen man who is kidnapped by gangsters, who sic an attack dog on him before he exacts his revenge. Over the next four minutes, he blows his enemies away with machine guns, all while hopping and falling down elevator shafts, leaping over and between moving cars and otherwise kicking some serious ass. His goal? To get his hands on a glowing vial that appears to have teleportation powers.
The dizzying action takes place to the pulse of the song’s driving electro-punk squall, which, Naishuller said, the band basically wrote to go along with a concept he had for a sequel to their popular 2011 prequel “Stampede.” That 2011 clip was shot on a $500 budget, most of which went to rent the prop shotgun and pay for blank rounds (and pizza for the crew).
“We started shooting the [‘Bad Motherf—ers’] video while the song was still being demo’d,” said Naishuller, 29, who was looking for beats and music that would fit his concept for the mini action/thriller.
The first scenes were shot in January 2012 and include the alpine skiing sequence, followed by several days of shooting in an office, for a total of eight days over the course of a year. “I just wanted it to be a fun ride,” he said of the filming, which took place with a mostly volunteer crew of friends on a handheld Sony GoPro action video camera. “I knew right away it would have massive appeal because I enjoyed the hell out of it and I was surprised nobody had shot anything like this before.”
Professing to be a huge fan of video games and Prodigy’s 1997 video landmark “Smack My Bitch Up,” which offers a similar look at debauched first-person action, Naishuller said his biggest influence was actually the legendary opening POV robbery scene in Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s 1995 cyberpunk thriller “Strange Days.”
“We are really the first ones to go all-out and make a true stunt-ridden action extravaganza,” he boasted. While Naishuller would not divulge the cost of the video, he did say a Russian vodka company came in after the fact to cover the costs in exchange for product placement, after he had been turned down by a number of ad agencies and other firms he approached for help.
“They didn’t get it and they thought it was too violent,” he said of the initial rejections. His dad and some other investors, however, did believe in him, and thanks to the popularity of the video, he’s been able to pay them back in cash. He also plans to treat them right with free booze and chicken wings in the VIP section at the band’s show in Moscow in April.
Naishuller said he’s been making music and films for 15 years, gaining valuable experience as a personal assistant and translator on the set of 2007’s “Captivity” by director Roland Joffe. The cast of the video are mostly his friends, family and some local journalists, with the exception of a professional stuntman/parkour expert he hired for the big tricks. “I realized I can’t let my friends jump from car to car,” he said, calling the stuntman’s fees one of his biggest expenses.
The hardest scene, however, was the one in the beginning, where the star tosses a German Shepherd through a plate glass window. The stuffed toy dog, packed with 15 kilos of bricks, didn’t shatter the glass the first four tries, so they had to rig the window with explosives to get the desired effect.
The experiment has clearly paid off, as Naishuller said he’s headed to Los Angeles next week to meet with a number of record labels about a recording contract for his band. “The next thing we do has to be spectacular and we have to outdo ‘Bad Motherf—er,’ ” he said. “Theoretically, our next video might be a film, not ‘Part Three.’ ”
In the meantime, he has a finished script for his first full-length film that has already nailed an investor and, with Aronofsky’s imprimatur, who knows? “Let’s hear what the Americans have to say.”