Skulls Snakes and the Flower of Death
Tattoo artist João Bosco has been on Autobahn’s radar for a while now. We first saw his work 6 years ago so we started to follow him on social media. What stood out to us wasn’t only his amazing drawing and tattooing skills but how he creates pieces that seem to wrap the body almost in a beautiful dialogue with its own curves. More often than not you would see someone that has never been tattooed having a full suit done by João. The trust and amount of devotion one must have when doing a body suit is enormous, but when someone that has never been tattooed gives themselves to a daunting process like that, something truly special is happening.
As Autobahn and João are both based in London we used to bump into each other around town. Chat would flow and we ended up getting to know the guy.
With documentaries there is a fine line between a filmmaker forcing themselves into the subject or letting the subject come to them. You should always thread carefully and respectfully as you are about to enter someone’s life. No matter what they imagine you will do, it always takes them by surprise when the crew show up and enter their world (metaphorically speaking).
After awhile João called us. He was very complimentary of our work and went on to say he was releasing a book and thought maybe we could do something together to celebrate its launch. We are always looking for a good opportunity to explore new themes and visual concepts. We do get to create great films commercially but there is sometimes a certain restrain, after all we are speaking on behalf of a brand and not always a lot of risk is allowed. This is what made us jump wholeheartedly into João’s world.
There would be no holding back.
When developing a project like this you have to respect the years of craft and control someone like João has over his own work. It would be naive to think he would let anyone create something that appropriates what he has so carefully carved without some accountability. However that is the role of the director, to take someone through the process of creation, gain their trust and understand who they are filming in order to make the film they own as much as his client/subject’s.
We don’t film much for ourselves therefore any time we do it has to be right. We have to feel our hearts and minds are into it and that the film is an extension or progression of our style.
As any project we embark on we created a visual document that would serve as a style guide to us and also a reference to what the film could become to João. A document like that allows everyone to communicate, to dialogue with tangible elements to reference to. For us this is key to get a vision from our heads into the screen.
After seeing the first visual document João was very positive and we could feel him relaxing and letting his fears go. We had established trust so now it was all a matter of getting the pieces in place to get the job done.
We started approaching crew and luckily everyone said yes. Luke Jacobs, an incredible DOP that has worked with us before on TVCs came into the project early and with an incredible vision. The film looks beautiful and we owe a lot of that to him. We also had our good friend and music composer Russ Chimes agreeing to score the film, Jim Bracher at The Mill agreed to the grade and Alex Bingham at Final Cut bringing his chops as sound designer and mixer. And not to forget Jenny Dee, getting her hands very dirty as Production Designer, and a whole load of crew and suppliers who helped us on this labour of love.
It is very humbling to have so many talented people on your side. It’s a testament to a project that from the start had a strong and unique concept and that had space for everyone to shine. And shine they all did. Every element in this film is dear to us and has honestly pushed the film to become better.
We are sure João did not imagine that phone call would roll into such a powerful and stunning piece and we are also sure he doesn’t regret it one bit. From us, we can only say his work deserves no less and that we are the ones fortunate enough to go down this road exploring directions unknown to us and expanding our creativity.
What an amazingly interesting world we inhabit. Life is beautiful in all its imperfections.
Watch the film here.