An ode to the lengths we’ll go to for that special someone, albeit awash with blood and violence, Beautiful from New York-based Director Andre Bato casts singer/songwriter Hirakish as a man willing to risk it all to make his love smile. The second collaboration between the filmmaker and musician, DN asked Bato to provide some insight into his creative process for this gratifyingly dark, yet comedic love story gone awry in a surreal interpretation of nocturnal Los Angeles.
Back in early 2017, Hirakish and I used to stay at my friend’s Max Kurzweil’s apartment, each of us sleeping on the two couches in his living room. I had just quit my job and was trying to save money to start my own production company. Hirakish was coming from New Orleans and looking for producers and studios to work with to kick off his music career. When things started taking off for my company, Max (who is now my business partner and producer of this music video) and I bought Hirakish a one way ticket to Los Angeles as a birthday present for him to keep pursuing his dream.
When Hirakish called me and mentioned he had a new tape in the works, I instantly knew I had to be part of it in some shape or form. He sent me a collection of tracks. Some were more fleshed out, close to being finished while others were rougher, almost as if recorded off of an iPhone. I was glad to have an inside look at his process early on because it would give us both a chance to develop the song and the concept for its visuals simultaneously, rather than adapting a script to an already completed product.
I remember the first time I heard “Beautiful mix 2.mp3”. It stuck with me as soon as I hit play. With my girlfriend in Philadelphia for work, I spent the entire evening listening to the song over and over. For the next four days, “Beautiful mix 2.mp3” was the only song I listened to – around 190 times, and close to 10 hours. Given the themes in the song, I knew the creative was going to revolve around love but I also wanted the visuals to contrast the playful and almost lighthearted atmosphere of the song. Eventually, I came up with a script that involved the protagonist, Hirakish, committing a robbery at a barbershop in order to buy his lover a present.
I like to think that everyone has at least one person in their life that they’d do anything for, no matter how much they’d have to lose, or how much they’d have to suffer. That one person you would risk it all for just to see a smile on their face or for them not go through the same struggles you’ve had to go through. In an ironic and comically violent way, this film for me is an ode to that person. That person you just want to make proud, even if that involves robbing a barbershop and dying in the process.
I knew the creative was going to revolve around love but I also wanted the visuals to contrast the playful and almost lighthearted atmosphere of the song.
We self-produced and shot Beautiful in Los Angeles over the span of a weekend in February 2019, three weeks after the creative was finalized. We shot on Arri Mini / Panavision, mostly on Steadicam and few moments of handheld, with the extremely talented David T Okolo as director of photography. The apartment in the intro and ending of the film was built from scratch in a soundstage as we couldn’t find the right location visually, and for that matter, one we could cover with fake blood.
I personally edited the video the night between shoot days and on the flight back to New York City – after a few final tweaks we sent it off to Jean Sound Design studio for SFX treatment and The Mill NY for color grade. I was really honored and lucky to work with Designer Tom Kan for the titles of the video. Kan has been an idol of mine since I saw Irreversible by Gaspar Noe around 2013. He is the reason why my company’s name reads red on black letters on our website.
Beautiful 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.