MAXIM BALDRY: MELODIE SAVIOUR
Writer and actor Maxim Baldry and director Harry Bowley talk us through their evocative short film, Melodie Saviour.
There’s been a wave of films recently about those who dedicate their lives to performing in some way – aside from biopics Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, this year’s Vox Lux and Her Smell have portrayed the intricacies of baring your soul on a stage. Melodie Saviour, the short film written by Maxim Baldry and Barney Harris, and directed by Harry Bowley, tells the story of a social outcast with ambitions of performing to the masses, and asks us to contemplate our own desire for validation and approval.
Melodie Saviour is part music video, part short film, introducing the story of identity, self-love and “finding and expressing your true voice”, that will be explored further in the feature-length version. The name Melodie Saviour, as the film’s creators tell us, is not only that of the short film and the feature, but also identifies the film’s protagonist (played by Baldry), and is the name that the pair will be releasing new music under over the next few months. For Baldry, the music that accompanies the film and the story depicted on screen are inextricably linked, with “one enhanc[ing] the other” in a “symbiotic relationship”.
The moody, surreal aesthetic of the short channels the peculiarity of a Radiohead music video, but Baldry promises that the feature will play out more like “Jesus Christ Superstar on acid helmed together by the voyeuristic eyes of Gaspar Noé”. A bold claim – but if the short film is just a taster for what’s to come, we’re already hooked.
Read our interview below…
What is Melodie Saviour about?
‘Melodie Saviour’ tells the story of a disillusioned Russian immigrant who alters his identity and joins a cult community that’s led by a charismatic older man. It’s a story about trusting your instincts, finding and expressing your true voice. (Maxim)
Who is Melodie?
Melodie Saviour is a Russian immigrant who we meet lighting amateur theatre shows in a Working Mens Club. His dreams of performing on stage dissipate in front of our eyes and he desperately searches for an alternative narrative. (Maxim)
The video is really impressive, you must be so proud – is this something that has been in the works for a long time?
I started writing ‘Melodie Saviour’ last summer after meeting my grandma’s Orthodox priest in Moscow. Her complete devotion to a man who had vodka on his breath inspired one of the central characters in the film who Melodie gets infatuated with. Our director, Harry Bowley, totally understood the tone and the visuals of the script after reading it and it has been such an exciting and collaborative process working together on this over the past year. (Maxim)
What came first the video concept or the songwriting?
I kind of wrote the story with a guitar in my hand the whole time. There’s a symbiotic relationship between music and visuals for me and I think that one enhances the other. Last summer I began sending bedroom recordings to one of my closest friends, Jake Goodbody, who happens to have a studio in his backyard and we crafted the early storyline of Melodie musically. I then translated this into a script format and began planning the video concept. I am so lucky to have worked with an incredible producer, Connie Martin, who put together an immensely talented team of creatives who helped guide and steer this project from the script to screen! It wouldn’t have been possible without them. (Maxim)
So I heard this short is a part of something much bigger – can you please talk about this?
Yes, this film is the first five pages of a feature length script that is currently in development. We wanted to set up the character of Melodie and the world that he lives in through this short. We’re also exploring the story musically and will be playing some live shows in the next few months under “Melodie Saviour”. (Maxim)
What is the video a commentary on?
It’s a commentary on this need and desire to be accepted by others. To feel a sense of self-approval, to win people over, to feel the love and adoration of an audience through any means. Melodie puts all he has on the line to be recognised by other people and be recognised for his ‘talent’. (Harry)
How do you want people to feel coming away from watching this? I felt really moved?
It’s an experimental and absurd film. I wanted to write something that evokes a feeling. I don’t mind if you hate it or love it as long as you feel something when you come away after watching it. (Maxim)
I want them to feel their own fantasy of that moment on-stage, to think what would I do on-stage faced with a huge audience? How would I blag my own individual performance? How would I show people my ’talent’ and win people over? I like to think that we all day-dream about performing and being loved by hundreds and thousands of people like Melodie, and I want people to think about their own moment on-stage. (Harry)
What is the stage bit where people are applauding raucously a commentary on?
I suppose it’s questioning the value of that applause. In a world where we all live in this public arena and everyone is so scrutinised and analysed, do we need everyone else’s acceptance and adoration, is our goal to be loved and appreciated by the masses, or is self-love enough? (Harry)
Are you excited to reveal the culmination of Melodie Saviour? Will it be explosive?
I am so excited for everyone to see the feature. It’ll be explosive, dark and experimental. Think Jesus Christ Superstar on acid helmed together by the voyeuristic eyes of Gaspar Noé. (Maxim)
Are you more a singer or an actor? Do you think they evoke different emotions/unlock different emotions within you?
Music and acting have always been such an integral part of my life and I really wanted to fuse the two together for a project. I’m so grateful and excited that we managed to do it with ‘Melodie Saviour’. (Maxim)