Get a glimpse of Joseph Seed’s spiritual journey in Far Cry 5 short film ‘Baptism’, then read on for our interview with its director Martin De Thurah.
Baptism is one of the most striking game promos we’ve seen in a long while – so we grabbed a few words with the film’s Danish-born director, Martin De Thurah, to learn how it came about.
De Thurah is known for his multi-award-winning work in short film – from music promos for the likes of Röyksopp, Feist and Glasvegas, to fantastic commercials such as the bonkers Machines for StubHub, Malcolm Campbell themed The Man Who Couldn’t Slow Down for Hennessey Cognac, Dreams for Camelot, King for PlayStation (featuring a cameo from Assassin’s Creeds’ Apple of Eden) and the iconic globe-trotting Home for Ikea.
When De Thurah was asked to pitch for Far Cry 5, he found the subject matter compelling – he mentions knowing people in his own family who’d been involved in sects. “I always like to create worlds in my filmmaking,” he says, “so it felt like ‘that’ kind of project, where we would be able to expand a story about a man who creates his own cult.”
De Thurah was aware of the Far Cry series, having played the games a little before. “I’ve followed the game scene for many years, since the Commodore 64,” he explains. “There was a time where I was very immersed in computer graphics and what computers could do.”
Unlike music promos and commercials where creatives start with a relatively blank slate, Far Cry 5 has its own story and world – I wondered how this changed De Thurah’s approach. “It’s a different task. For me, it’s about expanding the world within the given frame as much as possible. In this case, the given frame was quite specific, but I still had room to put myself into it. I always try to be personal in my approach.”
While Far Cry 5’s trailers have shown the game’s antagonist Joseph Seed leading the charge for the Eden’s Gate cult, Baptism is the first time we’ve seen how he got there. “I knew we needed as much feeling for the backstory as we could get. Glimpses of what was before – what builds a man like this. At least a sense of who he was. This roots the story in something real and something very passionate.”
The film has a real sense of dread and dreamy weirdness to it – with it’s percussive, building soundtrack and woozy focus-shifting visuals, it really gives the feeling of being inside Joseph’s head as he evolves. “I’d found the music track a while ago [Red Sex, by Vessel], I think it contributes greatly to the story and the feeling of a skewed, uneasy mental space. Doing a portrait of a man who is madly in contact with a voice inside his head. He’s out of reach, and it touches a very uneasy place for us – a psychopath who is unpredictable. It’s very scary and unsettling.”
“I tried to add story elements and a few abstract elements. To add a little of the world inside his head – the light in the church, him talking with himself, the spasm of the girl under the water – everything I could to open up the psychosis.”
In the film, Joseph Seed is played by Greg Bryk, the same actor who plays the part in the game itself – so he was already invested in the character. “I loved working with a person who was so immersed in his role. He really appreciated that I tried to push it further.”
Perhaps the most important question – that string of saliva between Joseph’s lips and Pastor Jerome’s forehead, which adds all kinds of creepiness to their first meeting – was that planned? Apparently not; “it happened in the moment – some higher element placed it there.”
Look out for more of De Thurah’s work with The Father and Hope County in cinema and on TV closer to the game’s release.
Far Cry 5 arrives on PS4, Xbox One and PC on March 27th. For more on the game, check out our previous coverage – and stay tuned to Ubisoft Blog for all the latest.