I am greatly honored to give you the grand premiere of the fabulous movie project by Italian post hardcore / screamo act RITEN! I sat down with the band’s very own Claudio Spanu to give you an insightful journey into this interesting project. RITEN decided to start a work that wasn’t a full lenght album, an EP, or anything that could involve just one sense or limited to one experience. They took a chance to write this short movie called “Janas”. They started to do some research on an ancient Sardinian legend about some witches that are considered to be keepers of the island nature and carriers of the human guilt. They wrote the entire plot and the storyboard, built the scenography and produced it in 100% DIY manner. The final effect can be seen below.
PLEASE NOTE: The interview below contains spoilers of the story, so you might want to want to watch the full video first!
Directed by: Claudio Spanu.
Written by: Alice Doro, Luca Devinu, Marco Pinna, Claudio Spanu.
Cinematography & assistant director: Luisa Cutzu.
Scenographer, visual artist: Luca Devinu.
Cast: Miriam Era, Daniela Vacca, Claudia Melis, Giulia Di Maria, Alessandra Vacca.
Make up: Claudia Melis, Daniela Vacca.
Soundtrack: Riten – “Janas I”, Riten – “Janas II”.
Production: Skyline Videos, Blessend Art.
IDIOTEQ x APERTURE x IL MARE DI ROSS x RITEN triple interview can be reached at this location.
Hey Claudio! Please introduce yourself and shoot us a brief introduction to “Janas”, the movie project we’re premiering now on IDIOTEQ.com!
Hey there! My name is Claudio Spanu and I play in an Italian post-rock band called Riten. Basically, “Janas” is a fifteen minutes movie that we have decided to write, produce and direct by ourselves, as a music band. This project was born from the need to create something that was more than a traditional listening experience, and it’s 100% in DIY philosophy.
Tell me more about the original premiere of the movie. When is it scheduled to be revealed for the first lucky audience?
Of course. We planned two premieres: the first one will take place on 26th of December, at The House of Rock in Sassari. We will screen the movie for the first time and there will be a special live set with visual performances by us and Vargtimmen (which is our guitarist Alice’s drone-noise solo project you should definitely listen to!). The second one will happen the day after, on 27th of December: Idioteq.com will stream the movie all over the internet.
How did the idea arise for this movie? How did you transform a concept of a musical recording to a movie project? What drove you to take that choice?
The whole idea started from a “band-talk” in June, during a recording session. We were discussing about a chance of making a full length album and there was a common assent that we wanted to tell something from our island. As some of readers certainly don’t know, Sardinia is plenty of folktales, stories, personalities waiting to be told or just shown to the rest of the mainland. But there are two basic issues: first of all, our cultural background is, as I said, really rich, but it still bears the wounds inflicted by decades of fascists politics who tried in every possible way to conform it to the guidelines given by the fascist party, with terrible consequences especially speaking in terms of regional linguistic identity. Second, there isn’t a real “cultural machine” based in Sardinia. There isn’t something that produces cultural products. Many Italian regions have their own “regionalism attitude” in books, movies, even in music terms. We’re not talking about having a specific regionalism with well marked features, we’re talking about even have something. In literature, this situation is a bit different (we had our own acknowledged classics writers and we still have some in the contemporary), but in the motion picture field is somehow less buxom (even if there are some directors who are working really good right now, like Bonifacio Angius). And as some of readers maybe don’t know we are cinephiles, before being musicians. Some of us studied Cinema before, some of us truly “eat” a movie a day, some of us is majoring in Cinema studies. So, going back to our band chat, if we wanted to tell one story, one concept, we couldn’t involve just one single human sense. If we wanted to do justice to that story and especially, if we wanted to make it readable to other people who couldn’t know it, we were forced to use every expressive form that we could use. And that is something that a LP or EP can make, but always in some restricted form. You can create a world just closing your eyes and listening to a TWDY record, and that’s something that you can always be grateful to the music. You can even follow the images in your mind by scanning the artwork. But that images aren’t moving in front of you, they’re aren’t creating meaning if related to the music, they’re just rantings of your head. Just try to think what images that produce meanings, stories, characters could make if sustained by your music. So the answer was pretty close: we’re going to make a movie with our music.
Are there some goals of this undertaking? Do you have a mission?
Not really. It’s just a proposal. The aim in to show people that there is a plural way to express themselves even if “music industry” (even if a local shows band could talk or not about industry) does not support that plurality of expressions. Even if the support which you can enjoy it doesn’t exist (how can you sell an independent movie coming from an independent band?). Maybe we’re right, or maybe we’re not, but let’s discuss it. It is essential to create debate, to talk each other, to create constructive criticism. And obviously we’re not the first at all. Daft Punk made it before, Nordic Giants made it before, every single video coming up from Church Of Ra is a movie that starts from a band thought. When you watch an Amenra’s video you don’t just stare at your PC’s screen and focus yourself just on musics or just on images. It’s a multi-sense experience that members of the band wanted to gave you. Just take “Janas” as an experiment and let’s share a conversation about it. At the end of the show scheduled on 26/12 we would really like to see how people reacted to this, how many questions we raised, what they thought about it. This is our only wish.
Ok, so let’s break down the whole story. Witches, Italian island, and human guilt. What’s the story and the heart of the script?
This story contains three narrative levels. The first one, wich is the literal one, tells the story of an initiation rite of a Jana into the klan. The Janas, in an ancient sardinian myth, are considered to be fairies, sometimes even witches, that live hidden in the nature. But the legend is not uniform: In some parts of the island this folktale is more accurate, in other parts is unclear (they might have a proper cave-house where hide themselves in called “domus” or they might just live free in the nature), sometimes they are friendly to the human race, sometimes enemies, sometimes indiferrent, they might socialize with humans or being spirits in the woods being visible just in some times of the year. Point is: this story changes from town to town, from people to people, so we don’t have a standard version, let’s simply consider them just as supernatural beings, right? We decided to took a tour into these local variants: we read books, news articles, we talked with our grandparents, etc. After that, we placed together all these informations and we wrote our storyboard, our version of the tale. So our vision of the Janas conceive them as lonely beings, it doesn’t matter if they are witches or fairies, that live in nature, carrying a burden: this burden is the guilt of human race, our guilt, our killing, disrespecting, hurting each other. And there goes with the second narrative level. This grief is represented by the mask, who they swap from one to another. Therefore, watching at the movie, the audience follow a new Jana into is initiation composed by three parts, wich are also represented by Luca’s symbols: “the welcome”, wich we see her embraced by the first mask; “the inspection”, where the new one is tested by the two masks in the trees; And “the curse”, where the fourth mask reveals the condition of grief to the new one, who first, tries to escape, but afterwards, is overwhelmed, and decide to stop and to accept her fate, and obviously, the mask.
All this story put us to the third level. After being a honest homage to our island, is a social reflection. Every human being has choices to make in his life. Some are more reversible, some less, some are constricted, unilateral. There’s a point in your life, who seems to be from 20 to 25 years old, where there is not a real variety of choices that you can make. It’s about staying in or out of a social system, it’s about to conform yourself to laws, codes, behaviors, of a society. It’s not inevitably a good or a bad thing, it’s a fact. So you can put a mask on you to be identifiable or similiar to the others, or you can choose to be just yourself but stayin out of that system. It is also a thinking over the life in a community, whatever it is. The context where you live is made by good or bad times shared with people around you, and it’s inevitabily linked to you. We are ho we are just because of that mask that parents, friends, loved ones or despised ones, made on you. It’s a part of you that you will carry to your grave. It’s a mask with every pros and cons that it has, but if you try to separate from it, you’re just flesh and bones, you don’t have a face anyomore, a person without relationships. And this is something that we’ve learned with distance one from another.
What horror films influenced this production?
Actually, none. Haha! From the first time that we wrote the storyboard our first thought was to not fall into the classic horror iconography. But we can say that we have drawn our inspiration, speaking about the framing, from Kubrick, Bergman, we took Wes Anderson as an example for the grading and colours. But it isn’t something really focused, these examples were just guide-lines, we made everything trying to search our own line, re-explaining it with our own style.
Technically, was it hard to put it together? What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?
Yes, definitely. First of all because I moved from Sardinia to study Cinematic studies in Milan. It happened in September and the shooting days were scheduled for last week of October. Then, I had some troubles here so I couldn’t move from Milan for a week and the shooting days has becomed two days. And it’s technically impossible to make a 20 minutes movie with only two days of shooting. We don’t know really why, maybe was luck, maybe we worked with amazing people who gave themselves to mad it possible, but we made it. The second day of shooting, at about 5pm, we had everything we needed to edit it. But it’s something amazing to work in a team, with your band and your friends, in something totally new. We (as a band) followed the entire making of the movie, from the brainstorming to the writing of the storyboard, then to the scenography and the shooting, ending with the editing and grading/color correction. Everyone had a full involvement in the process of the making of.
How many people were involved?
Basically, eleven people: five actresses, four band members, a friend of ours who we asked helped as director of photography (wich words never, and ever, are enough to thank her) and another friend who helped us with practical issues at the set (he worked reaaaaaally hard). Then, friends and teachers who helped during the editing, the entire staff of The House of Rock in Sassari who has proved helpful for the premiere and, obvioussly, you Karol :)
[Now Claudio decided to answer a string of questions in a row :)] Do you think it will become a new idea for making videos for RITEN? Can we expect more production I the vein of “Janas”? Can you share with us some of the band’s plans for the future? Any upcoming shows, bands collaborations, or new recordings coming up from you guys? How is the band, by the way? Did your composing approach and creative ideas change over these years? How would you sum up another year of your existence? Could you talk about your artistic trajectory on the edge of 2015?
Honestly, we don’t know in this specific time. We prcocess everything we do step by step. We want to see how people react to this, then make a small bunch of gigs playing it with a live set. We have a lot of ideas bouncing between us. Recently we were speaking about a full lenght album but it will be something different from a conventional LP. For sure, it will be something that will not includes only a listeinig part. Even our live sets will be always with a visual performing on it. Speaking about an artistic trajectory for 2015, is almost the same thing. We want to do one or two releases but always in a new way to conceive our music, always in a “becoming”. Even if I moved away, we can’t spend just without speaking, without pointing some new ideas o ineteresting stuff, without composing new music. This distance inevitably changed our way to compose music. We used to pratice at Alice’s recording studio, playing for hours, trying to channel our feelings into music, but now it’s clearly different. Now I play in a small single bedroom and I have to deal with plugins, emails, dropbox, and shit like that. We think that that distance is the main reason of our need to tell a story in the most complete and possible way. It’s like that making a movie instead of a an EP or a LP is our way to reunite even if we are miles away. Searching a better way to describe a conept it is not only makig justice to that concept, it is making justice to our efforts in making it. So everytime I come home and we can reunite, we just play for hours in our pratice room. It’s a rite mainly for us, because it’s therapeuthical for us. We walk away from our works, studies, personal issues and just play some music.
What are you listening to nowadays? How fruitful was 2014 when it comes to new releases you’d like to recommend?
Well that’s a hell of a question. Let’s see how the guys answer to this!
Marco: Listening to “Full of Hell, Celeste, Year Of No Light, Basement, Nordic Giants. 2014 releases: “Young And In The Way – When life comes to death”
Luca: Listening to Sunn O))), Earth, Ulver. “Suun O))) & Ulver – Terrestrials”, “Earth – Primitive and deadly”, “Ulver – Messe”.
: Listening to: “Windhand, Sunn O))), Boris, Squartet”. 2014 releases: “Sunn O))) & Scott Walker – Soused”, “Boris – Noise”, “Squartet – Adplicatio Minima”.
Claudio: Listening to: Jungbluth, Danny Brown, Celeste, This Will Destroy You, Sunn O))), Trash Talk, Nordic Giants. 2014 releases: “YAITW – When life comes to death”, “TWDY – Another language”, “Sunn O))) & Ulver – Terrestrials”, “Downfall of Gaia – Aeon unveils the thrones of decay”.