Rob Ulitski - 24th May 2021

Billie Marten heads out onto the streets of London in Joe Wheatley's video for Human Replacement - in a tank.

Decked out in combat gear, Marten sits upon the top of the huge armoured vehicle, as it cuts through nighttime streets in the West End. But the extraordinary sight is also delivered in an understated fashion. And what initially seems enjoyably absurd is armed with a message.

Wheatley and Marten's second collaboration together following Creature Of Mine, makes a jaw-dropping scenario seem routinely commonplace in order to make its underlying point more effectively: this is what women have to do to feel safe at night.

Having passed other women, all similarly dressed, the moment that Billie steps off the tank to enter a shop and buy a pint of milk, and then gets back in her tank, really hits home.

Marten and Wheatley have made a thought-provoking work that gives a memorable image a proper political meaning and significance. The message should be taken seriously.

JOE WHEATLEY: 

It was an exercise in listening and learning to create something empowering for Billie.

"For Billie this track is about being alone as a woman in a city at night. Recent events have brought this issue to the fore but it’s not ‘current’ or temporary. It’s a chronic problem that shouldn’t exist. All men have a responsibility to be aware of it, change our behaviour and work toward a better future.

"I was very self-conscious during the process that I should not be the lead voice in this conversation. With help from Billie, the brilliant EPs I work with, and a fantastic producer it was an exercise in listening and learning to create something empowering for Billie.

"We bounced around a few ideas and this one stuck. We were asking the question of what women do have to do to feel safe. It’s absurd that we have to ask the question so I answered it with an absurd response; use a tank to get around. A validation of this question became apparent just as we were setting up our tracking vehicle on the street in the early hours and someone was arrested for attempted murder right in front of us.

"I’d like to thank my producer Amara Rossell for going through administrative hell in order to put a tank in central London but hopefully it’s worth it. I think his video is quite unexpected for Billie’s fanbase, taking into account her previous output - not to mention the video I recently worked on with her - which is really exciting. I’m just about to enter production on our third and final video together. Billie has been really trusting and is a real joy to collaborate with." 

PRO Credits

Credits

DirectorJoe Wheatley
ProducerAmara Rossell
Production CompanyAgile Films
Executive ProducerPrecious Mahaga
Director of PhotographyTom Elliott
Focus PullerOliver Bingham
2nd ACJames Tilyard
GafferHarry Buck
WardrobeColleen Finnerty
Make-upEmma Regan
EditorBeth Roberts
ColouristJason Wallis
Grading companyElectric Theatre Collective
Post ProducerOliver Whitworth
Director's RepresentationOB Management
LabelFiction Records
Other creditsVehicles: Tanks A Lot Special Thanks: Charlie Drinkwater, Femi Anderson, Aidan Brooks Agile Rep: Sana Khan Tracking Vehicle: Ascension Films

Rob Ulitski - 24th May 2021

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