Fires Film Clip Pentridge
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‘Fires’ film clip shot at Pentridge

HOW PENTRIDGE BECAME A BACKGROUND TO LIFE IS BETTER BLONDE’S NEW VIDEO

Fires by Life is Better Blonde, shot at Pentridge
Fires by Life is Better Blonde, shot at Pentridge

One of the most exciting things about the revival of the Pentridge site is seeing it emerge as an environment that artists can harness to help realise their vision. Taking the early initiative in this regard is Melbourne recording artist Life Is Better Blonde, whose previous releases have been warmly received by Triple J tastemaker Richard Kingsmill and a legion of Triple J Unearthed fans.

For their latest song ‘Fires’, Life is Better Blonde teamed up with directors Natalie James and Benjamin Morgan, plus producers Logan Davies and Emma Haarburger, to shoot an ambitious video to accompany the song’s upcoming release. Filmed in part at the Pentridge site, the result is a clip of searing and accomplished visuals, married to an evocative track that lingers in the mind and ears.

We took the opportunity to chat to Natalie and Logan on how Pentridge came to feature in the work, and the role that Shayher Group played in enabling it to happen.

THE PERFECT BACKDROP TO AN ARRESTING TALE

For Natalie, whose aesthetic is informed by cinematic icons such as Kubrick, Tarkovsky and Lars Von Trier, ‘Fires’ represents the third music video collaboration with Life is Better Blonde. ‘We wanted it to feel like a darker version of a reimagined 1950s; lots of contrast, subdued colours, without all the ‘Pleasantville’ brightness or cheeriness.’

Inspiration was drawn from a variety of sources: painting by Fabio Magalhaes, 50s space age design, and dystopian video games like Fallout and Bioshock. The result is an arresting visual tale, melancholic and sinister, with a sense of its characters being subject to external forces as they immerse themselves in technology so as to escape the disillusionment and alienation of the everyday.

In one scene, a disused room in the Western Wing of Division A – a site earmarked for Pentridge’s future cultural arts precinct – serves as a stark backdrop for this tale of dislocating digital immersion. When asked what led the team to Pentridge, Natalie recalls the venue came up in conversation and, once investigated, was found ideal. ‘We were on the lookout for quite a sparse room with a bit of history to it, and most importantly texture in the walls,’ says Natalie. ‘There’s nothing worse than shooting against white walls!’

Fires by Life is Better Blonde, shot at Pentridge
‘Fires’ by Life is Better Blonde, shot at Pentridge

Producer Logan Davies found Shayher Group very open to the idea of shooting at Pentridge. ‘We approached Shayher late December and they got on board straight away – it was almost too easy! Within a couple of emails they gave us a great location, and on the day a helpful site manager was only a phone call away whenever we needed anything’. It was, indeed, ‘a dream location to work with’.

Natalie thought so too. ‘All the staff were incredibly accommodating and really went out of their way to make sure we had everything we needed.’ For independent film-makers, where work gets made on the back of favours, hard work and cast and crew donating their time, such openness was a godsend. ‘We were able to drive right up to the door of the building we were shooting in and had plenty of space to set, which really saved us a lot of time’.

INCUBATING ARTISTIC VISIONS

‘It was quite a surreal working space to be walking past all the old cells,’ Natalie recounts, ‘but its imperative that spaces like this remain open for artists and the general public’. For independent creatives, Shayher Group’s commitment to opening Pentridge up to practicing artists serves not just a logistical, but an artistic function also. ‘Having access to these spaces really broadens the scope of the kinds of stories we can tell.’

For everyone here at Shayher Group, supporting the local arts environment with spaces in which to work and imagine is a big part of our vision of what Pentridge can offer as a dedicated arts and culture precinct.  With the incredibly accomplished clip for ‘Fires’ revealing the flexibility of the Pentridge site, we can’t wait to discover the visions yet to emerge from the storied bluestone walls of Melbourne’s most intriguing address!

‘Fires’ will be the single leading up to the release of Life is Better Blonde’s EP Space + Tyres, released in March. You can view the video here.

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