Duncan Winecoff's Supernatural 'Providence'
Last Saturday at the stroke of midnight, All:Expanded premiered the short film Providence at the Soho Grand‘s Club Room, where guests were treated to wine, champagne and a seat near a working fireplace (can you say swank?). Did I mention Phillip Lim supplied the project’s wardrobe from his new collection?
"Providence" is a visually stunning film (here’s looking at you, Nianga) featuring an original score produced by Dutch DJ collective Illuminati AMS. We grabbed director Duncan Winecoff before the premiere to learn more about what started out as a music video before becoming a short film about family, close friends and a wolf.
Milk Made: What’s "Providence" about?
Duncan Winecoff: It’s an abstract narrative but it’s about a supernatural bond that these three characters share. I wrote just in knowing these kids [Illuminati AMS] as friends growing up together. They grew up in Amsterdam and the bond they share in real life is pretty amazing. I wanted to take that to the extreme and create an alternate reality that showcases that friendship.
Basically it’s an abstract narrative with vignettes into each one of these character’s lives which each one is identified by different color views: blue for Naleye, red for Nianga and yellow for Jaziah and we get a snapshot of each of their lives and how they’re dealing with this power, which I won’t say what it is. How one uses it for good, one uses it for destruction and the youngest of the group is still trying to find his way of using it and his place in society.
MM: How did this project come about?
DW: Basically Illuminati is a music production group from Amsterdam and I became friends with them about a year ago. I actually now manage them as a music group, and they just moved to New York and I was starting to get into film, my little brother, [*Stuart Winecoff] just got out of school. I knew I wanted to get into film production in the role of writer and director; since doing this piece we formed a film company over the last six months and we’re doing pretty well for ourselves.
So basically I asked them [Illuminati AMS] if for my first passion project I could write a music video for them. In writing and calibrating it with them and my brother Stuart, we got to turn it into a much larger thing than a music video. In the process of that and finding funding, we go in touch with Philip Lim the fashion designer, who said he was interested in supplying us with wardrobe for the film. That added another layer and then furthermore Illuminati and I met and decided that they would like to score the film and do the sound design as well — that added another layer and that’s where we went with it.
MM: How does the movie, music and audience experience relate to each other?
DW: That’s a good question for them, but I guess I can speak on their behalf. They work in EDM music production doing a lot of trap and they come from a strong background in house music, that’s kind of a big scene in Amsterdam. They wanted to show a different take on music production during this film and a much more abstract surreal direction. It’s jarring at points, very revealing in others, cinematic at another point in the film it takes you all over the place but it’s definitely abstract sound design which I find to be really cool and the sounds that are use are really powerful and resonate in the room which creates a really cool environment for everybody.
MM: Can you tell me about the wolf.
DW: The wolf was like a three-month hunt to find the right guy. There’s actually one guy who they call “The Wolf Whisperer.” He was in China at the time when I called him and he was out there with like 20 wolves filming some kung fu movie and he put me in touch with a really great local… what would you call it… basically it was three women who raise wolves and they had this perfect one for us named Alex. They were an hour away from Monticello, New York, where we shot the outdoor snow scene, they brought him over and he was actually sick that day so they brought a half-breed wolf to give him energy. Luckily he pulled it together and gave us everything we wanted and more. It was difficult because we were timing shots with a helicopter cam coming out of the woods and this wolf running out of the woods at the same time. He wound up being a total gem and killing it for us. His role in the film was the spirit guide situation, watching over these three individuals in a way maybe being more related to one character than the others.
MM: Is there anything in particular that you want the audience to take away from this movie?
DW: I think just from the structure of it, I really enjoyed collaborating with so many different artist in their own right. Obviously my brother is a really great cinematographer and the crew we had on set with us were young and hungry and really cool and creative. You combined that with having great acting from musicians which was surprising but they were incredible actors. On top of that being able to contribute musically and through sound design on the film. Even further being able to contribute with a fashion designer like Phillip Lim, who in my opinion is the best there is out there right now, was a really great experience. Don’t be afraid to go all out, try to work with those people and try to combine mediums together.
Film stills courtesy of Duncan Winecoff
Photography by Marissa Evans