Light Emitting Dudes takes a team of freerunners, geared up from head to toe with LED lights, and sets them loose on the streets of Bangkok at night. With acrobatic grace, they carved up the already buzzing nightlife spots while adding their own flair and colour to the mix.
Jason Paul, Shaun Wood, and Anan Anwar are a team of freerunners whose homes are already quite far apart, coming from Frankfurt, Sydney, and Bangkok respectively. Director Frank Sauer and Costume Designer Christina Zahra also had to fly in from Germany, so getting everyone together to shoot this video was a challenge in and of itself. With no definite locations, pre-planned stunts, or even a working LED suit prototype, making the decision to fly to Thailand was a real leap of faith. All I had was an idea in mind of what I wanted to create.
I had worked with Jason before in 2011 to create Dream World, which documented Jason’s journey to London to compete in the Art of Motion Freerunning competition. Since then I have been looking for another opportunity to work together and to get the rest of his team involved. I wanted to portray freerunning in a way that hasn’t been done before. I realized that freerunning at night was a barely-touched space where I could do some ground-breaking work, so I began thinking about LED suits as a concept.
One of the biggest challenges was putting together a suit that both looked cool and was functional. It had to be able to withstand the stresses of high impact acrobatic stunts, while adequately lighting up the surroundings as we passed through them. Luckily, Christina, with a wealth of experience as a fashion designer, was there to put it all together. Armed with a few morphsuits, some batteries, and a plethora of LED strips and duct tape, Christina really did a great job of fashioning together a Tron-style LED suit on a shoe-string budget.
Once the suits were ready, and we were tired of playing dress-up in the apartment and scaring the cat, it was time for the team to hit the streets. This opened up a whole new can of worms. It turns out, walking around the streets looking like creepy Neo S&M Power Rangers attracts unwanted attention, making guerilla-style shooting particularly difficult, to say the least. And the traffic police didn’t take our presence at busy intersections light-heartedly either. Go figure.
The mix of dangerous stunts and exhaustion due to all-night shoots really tested our resolve to finish the video. Maintaining the suits in good condition was also a continual hassle. They needed to be disassembled from time to time so the batteries could be recharged, and damaged LED strips needed to be unthreaded and replaced. The schedule being what it was meant that the suits never really had time to air out. We had to work with the mild stench of men’s locker room on us the whole time. The low light conditions presented their own challenges for shooting, but did provide an opportunity to experiment with long exposure to create beautiful light stroke shots.
For two weeks we were out every night collecting shots and enjoying the confused look on peoples face when we walked by. Oddly enough the cool factor of looking like a general bad ass never wore off. I think a lot big kids dream of dressing up like superheroes and leaping around the city. That’s something I can cross off my bucket list, now. We had a great time together. In the end, it’s definitely worth it to create something new and unique in a way only you can.
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