September 2024

Twelve Dark Noons

the blackmailthe blackmailthe blackmailText: Joanna Lowry Images: Naked On The Vague

Purporting to be a “psychedelic movie for the apocalypse in twelve chapters”, Twelve Dark Noons is far from a Twilight Sequel. A collaborative short film, Twelve Dark Noons will feature Sydney’s Naked On The Vague, a band with an established penchant for industrial soundscapes; artwork courtesy of Shawn Reed of label Night People; and music group Wet Hair. It’s being produced by Caleb Braaten of Sacred Bones Records, while Jacqueline Castel of Future Primitive Films (who has made clips for the likes of Zola Jesus, Blank Dogs, Gary War and Moon Duo) will be sitting in the director’s chair. After chatting to Naked On The Vague’s Matthew about ghosts, Ice Age rock formations and meeting future collaborators in Brooklyn bars that give out free pizza, it sounds nothing short of a deliciously spooky, multi-sensory venture. Transferring the jarring energy of a Naked On The Vague warehouse show to Super 8, expect a visual velodrome of audio pandemonium.

Joanna Lowry: How did the Twelve Dark Noons project come about?

Matthew Hopkins: It was initiated by Jacqueline Castel of Future Primitive films. We’d made loose plans in the past to work together on a video or film project. Basically Jacqueline and Caleb said they wanted to come to Australia and make a weird movie in the outback, we said “why not?”. Shawn Reed was brought in to provide artistic and spiritual direction. I guess you could say it is a product of everyone’s mutual interest in each other’s work.

JL: Who is involved and how did they get involved?

MH: Jacqueline Castel of Future Primitive films, Caleb Braaten of Sacred Bones Records, Shawn Reed of Night People records and music group Wet Hair, and us, Naked On the Vague. Jacqueline and Caleb simply proposed that they wanted to come over, bring Shawn with them and wanted us to be in on it, we simply said yes.

JL: Is it the first time you have collaborated with these people or have you worked with them in the past?

MH: We met Jacqueline, Shawn and Caleb on our first tour of the USA in 2007. Shawn had us play in his basement in Iowa City with his group Wet Hair during that tour. We got in touch with Jacqueline through a radio show she hosts on WNYU called Make the Product. We did a live set on her program and a little interview. Jacqueline plays a lot of underground Aussie stuff on her program so there were links through the musical community we both are involved in. As for Caleb, he was lurking in a dark corner of the Charleston, a venue we played in Brooklyn that gives out free pizza with every drink. He was enthused about our show and we had a beer and a laugh and became friends. He runs the label Sacred Bones for which we released a 7″ last year. We are currently recording an EP for Sacred Bones to coincide with the film’s release. The EP features the track Clock of 12’s, which became a kind of starting point for the idea of the film.
JL: What is Naked on the Vague’s involvement with the film?

MH: Both Lucy and I ‘act’ in the film; we are the only characters apart from a giant grandfather clock of 12’s. We will also be scoring the film, which will involve the whole band making spooky sounds. There is not much dialogue so we will be approaching the sound design as a recording or musical project within itself.

JL: The film purports to be “a psychedelic movie for the apocalypse in twelve chapters”. Is it going to have a linear narrative or is it going to be a series of vignettes?

MH: The film is structured in 12 short sections, each corresponding to the 12 hours of time on clocks. There is a narrative that threads each chapter revealing a fragmented account of what happened to the characters. There is a lot of wandering and isolation, which feeds the apocalyptic side of things. I wont say too much about the psychedelics, but I will say that it’s all very mathematical. Of the 12 chapters, sections 3, 6, 9, and 12 are key scenes, not so much linear, but in terms of the narrative they suggest a course of events. Sections 1,2,4,5,7,8,10,11 are more like departing points for these key scenes.  

JL: Where is the film being shot?

MH: Originally it was intended to be shot on location in and around Mungo National Park in South Western NSW, but it had rained just before we arrived and the dirt road into the national park was pretty boggy. So we scrambled to find another desert style location. We came across the Perry Sand Hills, which are just near Mildura. They were incredible. Rolling red sand hills and rock formations, apparently formed during the Ice Age.
JL: Lake Mungo is cited as one of the locations – Lake Mungo has a bit of a reputation for being haunted by ghosts. Any paranormal experiences while you were down there?

MH: We didn’t actually make it to Mungo but we did make it to the Homebush Hotel in Balranald, where Phil the publican talked about some ghosts at his pub. I highly recommend visiting the Homebush Hotel.

JL: How is the project being funded?

MH: Through donations on our Kickstarter program. People can find out all about it here –  
JL: What are some of the incentives for people to donate on the Kickstarter page?

MH: Some of the goodies one may acquire as a pledger to the project include editions of the DVD with hand made covers, t-shirts, posters, exclusive recordings by artists involved, books…tons of stuff. Basically the way Kickstarter works is that there are set amounts of money you can donate, with each amount providing certain goodies made and donated by the artists involved. This kind of thing works more like a pre-order of limited edition/exclusive goodies rather than simply money donation, or artist payment etc.
JL: Along with shooting the film, you will be shooting a music video for the song Clock of 12’s off an upcoming Naked On The Vague 12-inch EP release on Sacred Bones Records. Can you tell me a little bit about that? When can we expect to see it?

MH: Yes, we shot the video just after the film was finished. We shot it in our kitchen in Sydney using the haunted grandfather clock that features in the film as a prop. The 12″ EP will be out late 2010/early 2011 on Sacred Bones. The video will come out around this time also. We are currently just finishing the recording of the EP which will be a collection of songs and possibly some snippets/collage style bits from the film sound.
JL: What are your all-time favourite films?

MH: The Fly, The Elephant Man, Fargo.

Twelve Dark Noons

Next story: Eat Here – Eathouse Diner