Minimalism is something not often sought out in the realm of music videos where glitz and high concepts rule triumphant, but as director Youness Benali demonstrates in My Own Blood for Blacksmif, the subtle use of lighting and composition can be combined into a powerful expression of feeling which perfectly resonates with the deep emotion of a track. Youness tells us how he captured striking poses in the dark.
Blacksmif contacted me to have a listen to his new track My Own Blood and so I did. I really connected with the dark undertones that the track has so I told him that I really wanted to write on it – the song is about him and his brother loosing contact with each other and I felt that I could really make something special for it.
The budget was very limited so I had to make sure that I could get the most out of it and still have a piece of work that I would be proud of and something that would represent me as a director. I wrote the treatment and when I had finished writing I knew that it could be something special.
Once Blacksmif had given me the green light, I started to contact the people I wanted to work with, convincing them to work on the project for the love of it. Darran Bragg a DP I had worked with on my previous HEL BODDLE video got on board and we met up a lot of times to nail the look of the video and the best way to achieve it.
We shot everything in a blacked out studio on a Arri Alexa with a rotating platform (a big turntable) that the artist and the cast stood on. We had a minimal light set up but a set up that would allow us to craft something visually powerful. I come from a graphic design background having studied graphic design at Central St Martins and visual communication at the Royal College of Art so for me composition and the visual aspect of a video is of high importance.
Normally during shoots I’m aware of everything that goes around in frame but on this shoot I found myself drifting into this world we had created and I had to keep reminding myself to stay focused. At this point I could feel that the video was something special and it’s a surreal feeling for me to think like that during a shoot, normally I keep second guessing everything that I do in order to make sure that I get out the best of what I’m trying to achieve.