Johan Stahl ‘Casts’ A Crab For Röyksopp Short Film


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Visionary Danish director Johan Stahl has completed work on an original short film for Norwegian electronic duo Röyksopp, as part of the group’s “Profound Mysteries” album, a music and multimedia project launched after an eight-year album hiatus. Accompanying the music is a collaboration with Scandinavian production powerhouse Bacon. All of the tracks were assigned to individual directors who then interpreted their respective tracks into a short film. With three whole albums of post-pandemic material releasing this year, Stahl’s video is a standout, featuring a stylish and bizarre tale of a man using his paranormal powers to help a simple crab go on a supermarket revenge spree.

“It’s an idea that’s based on something I saw in the fresh fish department at a Spanish supermarket many years ago,” recalls Stahl. “I was fascinated by this marsupial crab gasping for air there in the middle of the ice, next in line to be cut open by the fishmonger. So, when Röyksopp handed over the creative reins, I thought, ‘let’s make a crab vengeance story’.”

To view the “A Crab & A Pipe” short film for Röyksopp’s “The Night”:

Throughout the year, the films have been released ahead of the music, which means they work both as short films on their own and as extended musical teasers. The latest two films, by Johan Stahl and Markus Tangre, are the first films made for tracks from the third album, releasing in November.

“A Crab & A Pipe” was released on August 29th and takes the viewer inside an icy fresh fish counter where a captive crab telepathically calls for rescue after a fishmonger cuts his crustacean father in half. The silent customer does him one better: he uses his eerie mind powers to help the tiny crab exact grisly revenge on his foe.

“The band selected the song for me and gave me complete creative freedom to interpret its meaning, which I thought was perfect for the story I had in mind,” notes Stahl, who is represented by REVERSE in the US for commercials and branded content.

For the customer with “Professor X” telepathic powers, Stahl cast Danish-Korean actor Jacob Nossel. The two previously traveled to North Korea in 2006 and collaborated on the Sundance-winning documentary, The Red Chapel. Nossel also inspired Stahl to include Korean subtitles to the Röyksopp story.

Shooting the video, Stahl employed his razor-sharp technique and eye for the unexpected. The look is stylish and moody, with visual saturation and white highlights that Stahl says “evoke an ‘80s feel.” A special probe lens brings the viewer down inside the crabs’ icebox world, setting up the gruesome larger-than-life conflict.

Fresh fish importer Fiskerikajen provided all the living crabs and even flew a special Norwegian king crab down to Copenhagen for the shoot.

“We tested different crabs for each setup, and funny enough, it was always the same six-legged hero delivering what we were looking for,” remarks Stahl. “He was a natural. It was an emotional moment in the end, though, releasing him back into the sea at a nearby harbor.”

Equally impressive was shooting the fish market scenes in a four-hour timeframe while it was closed.

“It was good to be reminded of how much we could get out of a tight shooting window with a simple self-made idea and concept,” says Stahl. “Overall, it was absolutely amazing to work with the Bacon team on a free-flowing project like this.”

The Röyksopp short marks a continuation of Stahl’s new artistic path as a director as seen in his jarring short for the Newport Beach Film Festival, dystopian sci-fi campaign for the Austrian Chamber of Labour, and performance-driven ad for Cadbury.

“This Röyksopp project really speaks to Johan’s ability to evolve and experiment as a storyteller, especially with highly conceptual and cinematic work that sucks you into these slightly dark and twisted worlds,” concludes Thibaut Estellon, REVERSE Founder/Executive Producer.

Project Title: “A Crab & A Pipe” by Johan Stahl & Röyksopp

Director: Johan Stahl
DOP: Snorre Ruhe
Executive Producer: Samuel Cantor
Focus Puller: Nick Gray
Grip: Rune Egegaard
Gaffer: Frank Omø
Production: Oliver Kornberg Sand
Lead Crab Handler: Nicholas Perry
Cast: Jacob Nossell, Ben Coughlan, Kristine Ettrup Bille (Aiko)
Editor: Rikke Selin Als
Log & Conform: Jasmin Falk Jensen
Grade: Hannibal Lang / BaconX
Special thanks to Meny Rotunden, Fiskerikajen, MAAN Rental, Artcast, BaconX
Production Company: Bacon
Music: “The Night” by Röyksopp

REVERSE is a US-based production company representing an international roster of award-winning directors: Cali Bondad, Daniel Börjesson, Kim Jacobsen, Martin Jalfen, Mike Matthews, Romain Quirot, and Johan Stahl. Recent agency clients include Alma, Mother NY, The Many, Uber, FCB Chicago, barrettSF, Grey, Publicis, VMLY&R, Team One, and mcgarrybowen.
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