‘Flux’ is an experimental art film which explores the effects of click-bait tribalism in a consumer, corporate driven age of identity and division.

The film depicts a world teetering on the brink of self-destruction, lost somewhere between harmony and chaos. Written, devised and directed by emerging UK artist, musician and photographer DFTCNT, ‘Flux’ showcases a dynamic, diverse and bold cast – shot in glorious 10,000 monochrome frames-per-second by the brilliant young cinematographer Henry Gill. The director broke down a few questions from us to tell us about the intentions and depictions in the film.

Can you tell me a little bit more about Flux, how did this film come about?

I had the original idea of the central character in ‘Flux’ (played by Georgia Pirozzi) around 6 years ago but was unable to raise the money for that project. But the idea of the character and basic premise stayed with me.

Then as we were tweaking and mixing the drums on the single ‘Flux’, I could vividly see a tableau of warring characters form around that central figure and the whole journey of the story clicked into place.

Originally I had wanted to cast myself as the central character, but decided that since this was my first proper stab as director, I should focus solely on that. I found Georgia through a mutual friend, and she did a stunning job – I was very lucky to get such a brave and committed performer.

The song sonically explores the relationship between harmony and chaos and the film became an organic extension of this idea, but in a strange way the film existed before the music. The budget on ‘Flux’ was small, but everyone was fully committed and we were beyond lucky to have such a wonderful cast and crew who made it a very special hustle project.

With such a wide range of events and depictions, how did you choose what to show?

There are many strands at work in Flux and it’s hard to pin point clear, single themes, as the whole piece feels interconnected and multifaceted.

Because the idea of ‘Flux’ grew with time while I was working on the music, the characters had time to gradually develop and really wrote themselves. I never necessarily set out to depict anyone or anything. It was often commented upon as we made ‘Flux’, that it was as if the film was making its-self … this made me laugh, but there is a certain truth in it, it was an almost mystical process at times and the outcome feels strangely prophetic.

In terms of events, I never had a specific political or social event in mind. In fact, I had developed the full story of ‘Flux’ before many of the current social and political movements dominating Western media had taken hold. For me, it was about a deeper sense of rising, inner human conflict and entering a new phase of global consciousness. How internalisation leads to alienation and physical violence. And how certain power structures are stoking division and tribalism for their own personal agendas.

I am interested generally in the deep internalisation of people right now. We were assured the tech age would bring us closer and increase our capacity for communication, but instead it feels as a species we have regressed. We stare mindlessly at screens, digest endless click-bait fed to us by profit driven algorithms which feed on our most extreme emotions and primal reactions.

Big tech building and exacerbating identity games for click-bait and profit was definitely a key theme for me. In some ways ‘Flux’ has an almost advertisement quality, some people have commented it looks like a Calvin Klein advert from the 90’s and there is a definite surreal sense of consumerism-gone-wrong at the heart of it.

Tell us about the monochromatic style and high speed frame-rates, how you achieved it technically and what you wanted it to represent?

Henry Gill was the cinematographer and did a fantastic job. Henry and I agreed that the film should have a considered, painterly quality and this would contrast beautifully with the sometimes aggressive tone of the content. In some ways ‘Flux’ is a traditional black and white film. You can turn off the soundtrack and the whole story will still be clear – and it’s very much this purist, traditional approach to character, emotion and camera which interested me. I was a jobbing photographer for a few years and you learn simple and pure frames always say the most.

The idea of monochrome appealed to me as most electronic music videos are playing with bold colour palettes right now and I always think if everyone is doing one thing, you should probably do the opposite. Plus the monochrome added to the portrait quality of the shots and connected it to the whole heritage of silent film, such as Dreyer, Lang and early Hitchcock, of whom I’m a big fan.

I always saw the whole film in strangled slow motion, to build that ultimate suspense and tension. We went with an Arri Alexa to technically achieve this. The camera set up was quite complex and Henry had 2 assistant operators (Jannick Fjeldsoe & Kieran Poynter). But setting up each shot and loading the footage was somewhat time consuming and a large portion of the day was often spent waiting around for footage to load. This meant we had to be selective with the footage we filmed and always get straight to the heart of the action, as there was simply no time to waste.

What has this film taught you about filmmaking, and furthermore, society in general?

Filming ‘Flux’ was fascinating as we shot it during the height of the first year of Covid lockdowns in London. So when the characters are venting their rage and frustrations, the actors themselves, many of whom had rarely worked that year or even left the house in some cases, are also releasing their own personal frustrations. The atmosphere in the studio was beyond palpable and it often felt more like a therapy session than a film set. Some of the actors said they felt a true sense of inner calm after the shoot that they had not felt for some time, just by releasing so much pent up emotion.

In such a heightened environment it taught me a great deal about handling performers and offering them a space to quickly access raw and deep emotions. The crew often commented after the shoot that they had rarely felt so connected to the actors on a set – I wanted a true intimacy to exist that would then be reflected in the honesty of the material. I would not recommend that for every shoot as it can often descend into unmanaged chaos, but for this it worked well.

Watching people react to ‘Flux’ has been fascinating. It sometimes seems often how people react is less to do with the film its-self but rather where they are personally (both emotionally and geographically) amid the current global chaos and heightened social tribalisms. So it has received all kinds of feedback and comments, much of which completely contradicts each other. But it does seem to act as a mirror to each person’s own experience of the last few years.

‘Flux’ did quite well on the film festival circuit this summer and it was moving that so many different audiences around the world felt as connected to it as they did. I received the kindest comments from everywhere from New York to Iran, Russia to Venezuela, Singapore to Paris – which I suppose proves that the film in some way did manage to tap into something universal.

Do you have any tips or advice to offer fellow filmmakers?

Be brave, make the work that you feel the deepest, rise above, stay calm and never give up. You can do this.

Added to ‘The Sound of Shorts‘ playlist on Spotify.