King and Lionheart
Under a leaden sky, a utopian empire is overthrown by a malefic foreign horde. In the aftermath, a regal brother and sister are separated and desperately struggle to reunite.
Behind the Scenes With King and Lionheart
We were very fortunate to have Of Monsters and Men contact us directly to create the video for Nanna’s very personal song, King and Lionheart. After working on ‘Little Talks’, we knew we had a strong creative connection with the band and were excited to work with them again. We really love Of Monsters and Men! They are some of the most talented people we know, and they stand behind their creative ideas.
As always, we listened to the song a million times on repeat. Generally, ideas come to us rather quickly, but this time it was different.
King and Lionheart is a song Nanna wrote for her little brother that she doesn’t get to see that often. Her brother lives in Canada and she lives in Iceland, a world apart. Understandably, she feels very separated from her only sibling.
We knew that the song meant a lot to Nanna, so we needed to create a story that would hit home for her, the entire band, and their fans.
With a song title like King and Lionheart the story could have easily gone into something predictable about lions, kings, and lions dressed up as kings or vice versa. Instead, we dreamt up a dystopic sci-fi fantasy about two siblings being separated by a monstrous alien horde, and how they desperately struggle to reunite.
The overall feeling of the story is quite grim, so we added an element of hope by introducing the glowing animal-like Spirit Guardians. These quirky and lovable characters were a way to lighten up the dark foreboding world we had created. But even with the help of their Spirit Guardians, the siblings didn’t reunite…or did they?
The band mentioned they didn’t want a happy ending, and we couldn’t have agreed more. It’s rare for a band to want to push the boundaries and create something unexpected. Nanna told us she was a sucker for unresolved endings, so a cliffhanger was born!
In Montreal everyone knows everyone. We mentioned to a friend that we were looking for a couple real-life siblings to play King and Lionheart, and within minutes she put us in contact with the family of a very talented 10-year-old boy and his 14-year-old sister.
When we first met the kids, Manau came through the front door in a low military-crawl. He was so charismatic and enthusiastic that we hired him on the spot. Elle was so gentle and soft-spoken compared to her wild little brother, but such a protective and quintessential older sister! We knew instantly that they were the perfect duo to play King and Lionheart.
Casting the Dwellers (the alien horde of warrior-like men) was a total blast! We were introduced to some of the biggest meanest-looking dudes in the city. We made the guys run, fight, crawl across the floor, and scream bloody murder to the point where people in the building must have thought we were up to something shady.
Most of the men we cast for the Dweller roles were L.A.R.Pers (live action role players). It’s totally normal for these adult men to dress up in elaborate medieval garb and meet in the park on weekends to fight mock battles. As frightening as they may look on camera, we absolutely loved working with these gentle giants!
The Dweller costumes were quite a challenge to create. We wanted the horde to look dirty and ragged, like they had just been to war. The costumes were made out of old flannel military sleeping bag liners. We tried dying the army-green liners black, but the fabric had a special military-grade coating that rejected dye. To get the fabric from army-green to black we first soaked them in black house paint, then hand painted them with black shoe polish. When we dressed up the Dwellers on set the costumes still didn’t look gritty enough, so we doused the costumes with fire starter and burnt them in the parking lot.
One of our favourite days in pre-pro was when we got to go shopping for fake guns. It was a secret underground weapons shop where we had to be buzzed in. We met Montreal’s famous gun-wrangler who introduced us to some of the most realistic-looking replica firearms in the world.
When we were on set, Manau had his favourite gun that he liked to carry around everywhere, kind of like his version of a teddy bear. When it was time to collect and give back all the guns to the wrangler, we were hunting for over an hour looking for one last gun. We finally found it; Manau had hid his favourite ‘toy’ under his pillow.
Shooting in Montreal was a really great experience. Cinepool Studios, which provided everything we needed, was the perfect place to work. We are so grateful to Michael Solomon and Josh Usheroff for providing production services and bringing together such a talented and fun team. Big props to Josh for filming heaps of material for our behind the scenes video!
We rented a green-screen studio for 3 days, and to save time from driving back and forth on snowy roads, many of us slept the night at the studio on air mattresses.
One of the biggest challenges during production was getting our actors to run full-speed on a treadmill without holding onto anything or looking down at their feet. Try it the next time you’re at the gym, it’s really hard to do!
We truly had the best cast, crew and volunteers in the world! They worked around the clock to help us see our vision through, and we couldn’t have created King and Lionheart without them.
Our post production was cooked up using a mix of After Effects, Photoshop, Cinema4D and Maya. For the war machines, we combined digital techniques with photographs of physical scale models. We built these by combining toys, tools and military scale model kits purchased from the most epic scale model store in Canada: Udisco.
Philippe Roy, our amazing DP, had a lot of experience filming on a greenscreen stage and his shots were easy to key and composite. Red Giant’s Primatte keyer worked wonders on most of the shots with Keylight taking over when dealing with fur and other fine details.
We’re proud to say that this video was produced from top to bottom in Montreal. A huge thanks to Of Monsters and Men and Universal Republic Records!