frank and tyrone lebon give us a behind-the-scenes look at 'the beach bum'
The photographers were given an all-access pass to document Harmony Korine's latest film.
Inside the Bum is the evocatively titled new book and film project from photographers (and brothers) Frank and Tyrone Lebon. Whatever you might imagine from the name, it is in fact a chronicle of their time on the set of Harmony Korine's The Beach Bum, a film from Vice Studios. The brothers spent six weeks on set in Miami, Florida and were given total access to Harmony and the cast, which includes Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Isla Fisher, Snoop Dogg and Zac Efron. "Harmony is incredibly open and was very generous with us," says Tyrone of their time together. "He introduced us as artists in our own right to all the cast and crew and with his blessing we were let free to run around the set and do what we wanted."
This is the first time the duo have worked together quite so closely — they even shared a bed for five weeks. Here, Frank and Tyrone tell i-D about having a front row seat to the making of one of the most insane films of the year, editing down hours of film, and working with one of their heroes.
How did you come to do this project? Did you know Harmony before?
Tyrone: He has been a big inspiration to both of us. Me since I was 14, or whenever it was, when I worked out that he had written the script for Kids. Then when Gummo came out it blew my mind. I’ve followed his work ever since. I first tried to contact Harmony in 2014 for a project I wanted to include him in, but I hadn’t had any luck. So when this opportunity came up Frank and I jumped at the chance.
What's six weeks in Florida like?
Frank: It was fun! I met my girlfriend which was a big moment. We were working, but we weren't on a job like we'd ever been on. We weren't officially a part of the crew yet we had full access to the entire shoot, so it felt as though we lived in a grey area, between the film and our own little trip. Neither of us had ever been on feature film production, or any project that was so long, so we had to learn to pace ourselves.
Were you used to spending so much time together?
Frank: I don't think we've ever slept in the same bed for five weeks [laughs]... it was fun. We were also sharing a house with the producer John and Dylan the associate producer. So there wasn't much escaping. We were right in the middle of it.
What was the mood like on set?
Tyrone: Everyone was incredibly welcoming from the start. From Harmony across all the crew and all the cast. I think everyone was relaxed and having a good time so they were cool with us filming them or taking pictures.
How much did you shoot over six weeks?
Frank: 50 hours and how many rolls of film?
Tyrone: Yeah, like a couple hundred rolls of film. There was a lot to shoot. Everywhere we looked, there was something crazy happening… half of it was created for the movie, and the other half was just Florida itself.
What was Harmony like to work with?
Tyrone: They say you should never meet your heroes but honestly we had such an amazing experience with Harmony. Both watching him direct the set and also talking to him about all sorts of things... making films, creativity generally, virgin births… Harmony is incredibly open and was very generous with us. He introduced us as artists in our own right to all the cast and crew and with his blessing we were let free to run around the set and do what we wanted.
When are the book and film out?
Tyrone: So we’ve just done the first book launch and film screening in LA — which we planned as it was the night before the premier of the Beach Bum and lots of the cast and crew were out here for that. We’re going to do the same in NYC on 23rd April and then in London early in May. The book is available online on the DoBeDo website.
What was it like editing down like hundreds of rolls of film to 106 pages?
Frank: It was pretty tough. Because so many of the pictures were so bloody good [laughs]. But no, it was fun. We covered the studio with prints, and had to be really severe. We love to collage and decided it would also help with our edit process. So it was quite a good way of getting 20 images down as one. naturally over a few weeks, the edit tightened itself up to something more manageable.
I think with the video it was even more intense actually. Because there was loads of stuff to sync, and just loads of different formats from iPhone to 16 mm, stills, little GoPros on the belt and even spy cameras.
What was it like working together where you’re on an equal footing creatively?
Tyrone: This is actually the first time that we’ve worked like this; Frank and I have worked together in different capacities over the years. I'm 11 years older than Frank, so you know, growing up Frank helped me on different projects. And this is the first time we've really gone totally 50/50 on a project.
We work really closely all the time and speak to each other about what we're doing all the time anyway, but even so going into this we were slightly hesitant — sometimes collaboration can be...
Tyrone: yeah more of a hindrance than a help. But, never at any stage on this project has it been anything but a positive thing.
Frank: what also seemed to help the collaboration is us adopting Harmony's way of approaching these projects. Which is just sort of having fun and not taking it too seriously. Which made it just fun for us as well. easier to collaborate and much easier to edit everything, because we just had this sort of ethos of trying not to take it too seriously, and just have a laugh with it.
The book is available online now at www.dobedo.co.uk/inside-the-bum-book
More info on the launches can be found at www.dobedo.co.uk
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with new photos from the book.