August Saint Freytag

Concept and Experience Designer, Video and Story Artist
Best in landscape.

What's Wrong With the Weather, Jesus?

A double-feature music video to tracks "Bruges" and "Swansea", both part of a yet untitled, upcoming release. A family packing up and fleeing from an incoming catastrophe, a tape camcorder that can show the future and the hard to find signs of salvation and safety.

August Freytag on set, promotional material
Steve Luxembourg on set, promotional material
Johnny DeeCarter on set, promotional material

Early 2017's question about the weather was shot in a time frame when both Eastern France and Southern Germany were covered by snowfall for a few weeks. The tracks featured, "Bruges" and "Swansea", were the first to receive a music video adaptation out of the tracks developed into a future album in the background at the time, some more would later follow. Originally, the video was laid out for a track called "Renegades" instead of the later chosen "Bruges" as the Act 1 title. In this showcase, we're going to re-visit some of the set pieces and characters of "What's Wrong With the Weather, Jesus?".

"Bruges" segment, before departure, garden scene
"Bruges" segment, Steve Luxembourg and Operator Hendrik Stroehle

"Remember when you finally found Jesus on a low stratus field, he gave you an abandoned nest, made of wild daffodils. Told you that I’m not the one to ask what’s wrong with the weather, lay me down on future paths, buried under your favourite sweater."

First outline and idea gathering for production (recreation)

An early outline for story beats and different settings on the family's route and their escape. The entire journey has non-linear inserts wherein the son, Ohio, watches parts of a diverging future timeline on his camcorder tapes, seeing moments of the family's journey before they happen. The draft had the two major acts switched around, showing their departure after the escape, and ending with them leaving for the unknown in the end. At the time of writing, the later used song "Bruges" was still noted down as "Renegades", a different track that was considered for the double-feature; conveniently, the runtimes of both songs were very similar and the change was easily made.

Directors and writers Steve Luxembourg (right) and August Freytag (left) during the living room scene

Leading up to the living room scene:

After their daughter, Carolina, notices all the neighbours either having gone already or frantically packing their cars while on her way back from school, she finds her parents strangely quiet. Only in the evening, after the neighbourhood has already emptied out, the parents sit their kids down and tell them they're going to have to abandon their home the next morning. For the household, there's not much to say, and not many destinations to choose from. Every one of them takes a keepsake with them: Ohio takes his camcorder, Carolina her walkman, father Idaho packs the family suitcase with whatever fits, and mother Louisiana her wooden rosary. A bulky stuffed animal accompanies them as they bid farewell to their home.

On location near Oltingue for arrival and church scenes

The solemn church of the second act is l'église Saint-Martin des champs located outside the nearby village of Oltingue in the east of France. It sits seemingly in the middle of a flat valley with only fields and unpaved roads surrounding it. The building was reconstructed multiple times in its lifetime, spanning from some time in the 7th century to the 1860s. One peculiar detail, adding to the sorrowful atmosphere, is an open skeleton, strangely left half-unburied to one side in the church interior.

Hendrik Stroehle operating, Steve Luxembourg (centre), August Freytag (right)
Garden scene, Pearse Fuchs (Ohio)

The film was shot using two different cameras and three different intermediate formats. A Blackmagic URSA Mini PL was used in recording all master shots, it can be seen rigged in the promotional material and in the "Forecast from Another Dimension" behind the scenes. Instead of the small tape camera the character Ohio carries in various shots, a larger, more practical camera was used instead, a Canon XH A1. For readers familiar with our work from late 2011 up to 2015, this was the main camera, "David", used in most projects up to that year. Formats ranged from all digital (Apple ProRes as source and intermediate) to miniDV as tape source, and Video Home System cassette as tape intermediate. A dedicated article would be needed to go over all the details of how the final VHS footage was created. To summarise as a bit of a teaser, all VHS footage seen in the film comes from an actual cassette running in a VCR, connected to a CRT television over SCART.

Pearse Fuchs (Ohio)
Aislin Fuchs (Carolina)
Ralf Peter Fuchs (Idaho)
Rosieta Fuchs-Hynes (Louisiana)

Two members of the family were introducing roles, while both Pearse (in the role of Ohio) and Ralf (in the role of Idaho) had appeared in prior works, one being 2013's "To the Match of the Year" (orig. "Zum Spiel des Jahres") in which Pearse played a goalkeeper and Ralf had a brief appearance as a helpful father character. The second release had another prominent role for Pearse as the leader of a group of wild kids on the hunt in 2014's "Le Havre". Aside the family, smaller roles were filled with local talent, additional to the short presence of Luxembourg and DeeCarter, listed as "Musician" and "Doctor" respectively, playing two of the fleeing neighbours.