'sledgehammer' director floria sigismondi takes us to another galaxy in this behind the scenes video

Meet the director behind Rihanna’s iconic new music video.

by Tish Weinstock
12 July 2016, 6:04pm

Born in Italy but raised in Canada, Floria Sigismondi has been traveling her entire life. It makes sense, then, that for her latest project, the visionary filmmaker — responsible for the 2010 hit indie flick The Runaways as well as music videos for Muse, Björk, and David Bowie — takes us into another galaxy with her brand new video for Star Trek Beyond theme tune, "Sledgehammer," sung by none other than Rihanna. But it doesn't stop there; traveling to where no man has gone before (no, seriously) Floria has made history with the first ever music video to be shot entirely in IMAX. As she takes us behind the scenes of her iconic video, we talk to the director about creating new worlds to get lost in and why we need to see more women behind the camera.

How did you get into film?
I was studying art in Toronto when I stumbled upon photography in my fourth year. I loved how immediate the medium was; I found myself taking photos instead of going to class. Once I had experience with lighting and lenses and how to create a mood with a picture, it was a natural progression to moving image. The one thing that excited me most was how you can manipulate time in a film to tell a story or create a mood.

How would you describe your overall aesthetic?
I find beauty in odd places, I've developed a language using body movements. I like peeling off the skin to find what's under the surface.

What is it about music videos in particular that you find so appealing?
I love the way that the medium allows you to experiment with ideas, and because it's music driven you basically can think of it as a soundscape to a short film. It can be abstract or it could be linear. It's a gesture.

What's been your career highlight so far?
Collaborating with David Bowie on four videos.

What was it like working with Rihanna?
It was wonderful to watch her embody the character through her movements. She gave me something new every time.

What was the idea behind the video?
I wanted to recreate Rihanna as an ancient mystical being. She harnesses the power to manipulate the elements around her. She can elevate rocks, move sand, and conjure energy and light. She ultimately embodies the power to transform into the universe itself, becoming the stars and planets. It's ultimately about transcendence.

How much of the video comes from Star Trek?
I basically extracted elements from the film and used them in a way I thought was interesting. I used the elements of the floating rocks, York Town, the swarm ships, the broken moon and of course the Starship Enterprise. It is a stand-alone piece from the film, so I was able to create a world of our own using these bits.

How does it feel to be the first director to have their video shot entirely in IMAX?
It was super cool seeing the images in a way you normally don't experience music videos. ‎

There's been a conversation recently about the need to get more women behind the camera. Why do you think that is?
It's really ridiculous that this is even an issue in today's world, but it is. We think the world we live in is so modern, and we are finally fed up of things not being equal.

Why do we need to see more women behind the camera?
The pendulum has swung so far to one side for so long that all our memories as a culture have been seen through the male gaze, even if a woman has written the piece. In order to have female stories represented in culture to really affect people on a cellular level, the pendulum must sway more aggressively back.

What's the best thing about being a woman in 2016?
Being able to be strong and still embrace femininity. 


Text Tish Weinstock 

Floria Sigismondi
music interviews