Giving form to LA-based singer-songwriter Brandon Banks’ conceptual space in which he wrestles with the duality of existence and the difficult choices which can derail life’s neat plans, Director Jacob “Kuba” Bojsza utilises a mix of framing, composition and formats in his otherworldly music video Blue. We invited Bradon to tell us how he made the conceptual tangible whilst also fulfilling his long time dream of shooting on Kodak 35mm.
The concept for Blue was born from extensive discussions that Brandon and I had about the meaning of the music. Blue and Brandon’s EP Tides deal heavily with the concepts of the duality of existence, and the difficult choices one must face as they navigate through life. Brandon has this idea of a place called “The Blue” which, on the surface, could be interpreted as a somber, melancholic space, but, as we examined it more deeply, we began to realize that a place like “The Blue” can lead a person towards clarity and spiritual growth. I was then tasked with creating a tangible interpretation of this place that is very much an abstraction.
I decided that the video would start over the musical interlude (Wims) with Brandon moving through the disarray that is the duality of existence. As the song Blue comes crashing in, we see our first, small glimpses into the “The Blue”. This continues through the first hook until we hit the bridge, where the song and the visual finally break through to a clearer picture of this space. As we flow through “The Blue”, we’re faced with imagery and physical embodiments that are representations of the choices. By the end of the song, we begin to find the clarity and growth that “The Blue” has to offer. As the song concludes, there is a small epilogue which is a final punctuation on the overarching theme of duality.
I was then tasked with creating a tangible interpretation of this place that is very much an abstraction.
I had worked with Brandon previously on the photography for his album and the video for his first single Autumn so there was a trust in the creative relationship that we had established going into this project. Brandon is a new artist, so we knew we would have to keep the video simple because of the very limited budget we had for the project. After budgeting for the cast and crew that we needed to make this video happen, we were left with very limited options for location and shooting format.
It was a perfect string of events that allowed me to fulfill my longtime dream of shooting Kodak 35mm on this project. I was gifted a couple thousand feet of brand new 35mm stock from a friend back in April. I didn’t know when I’d be able to put it to use until this video came up and my good friend and cam-op/loader on Blue, Drey Singer, offered to hook us up with a camera package. Seeing that those two things were in place, Brandon’s manager, Jeremy Grinberg, graciously offered to pitch in some extra money to cover the fees for processing and scanning – which was handled by Colorlab in Maryland.
Locations were never specified in the treatment, but we wanted places that had character and energy. Brandon’s Auntie Dixie and Auntie Lynn we’re kind enough to offer us their homes to shoot in which surpassed all our expectations. All in all, the brunt of the video was shot in one day on location in Gardena and Inglewood, CA. The intro, which I decided to capture digitally to create a contrast with the world of “The Blue”, was shot at dawn on the Pacific Coast Highway.
The change in aspect ratio is used to differentiate the world of “The Blue” from the reality that Brandon finds himself in. There’s a bit of a paradox in this because the representation of this ‘reality’ that plays over the interlude is still very much abstract (i.e. Brandon and the motorcycles moving backwards). The intent is to show glimpses of the reality Brandon has experienced (i.e. the kids playing basketball in the neighborhood where he grew up) mixed in with the more-abstract imagery of Brandon “floating” through this “duality” that he is experiencing in day-to-day life.
There was a trust in the creative relationship that we had established going into this project.
To me, it is a subtle chaos. When the song Blue finally comes in and the aspect ratio changes, it creates a juxtaposition. There is a calmness to “The Blue”, so the camera comes to a halt. We are now inside, but we can only see small glimpses of body fragments at first. What we are seeing are the vices that Brandon is facing – materialized into figures. They are intercut with fragments of Brandon’s own body to propose that they are a part of Brandon himself.
From there, as the song builds, we begin to see the bigger picture and eventually, we transcend “The Blue” altogether. As I stated earlier, “The Blue” is a somber, melancholic place, but as Brandon and I had discovered, a place like this can cultivate spiritual growth. In the epilogue, we are back in ‘reality’, however, this section is still captured on film in the ‘Scope aspect ratio. To me, this implies that Brandon can now view ‘reality’ through the lens of “The Blue.”
My heart has always been and always will be in narrative filmmaking. My main goal for the future is to finish a feature-length screenplay that I’ve been working on for the past 2 or 3 years about the neighborhood I grew up in (The San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles) and the people/stories that I encountered along the way. My hope is that, sometime in the next year, I’ll be able to shoot a short film (on celluloid… fingers crossed!) that will take place in this world and that will also serve as a proof-of-concept for the feature. In the interim, I’ll likely be pitching treatments for more music videos, and in November, I’ll be serving as cinematographer on a beautiful, little indie feature entitled Moon Manor.
This film is one of the many great projects shared with the Directors Notes Programmers through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them submit your film.