I had the opportunity to work with Denver’s 303 Magazine and shoot photos for Nahko & Medicine For the People. Previous to this, I had only heard some of his music online and seen some of his videos so it was quite a new experience. The performance was an elegant combination of good music, strongly crafted performance and meaningful dialogue on current events (such as those in Standing Rock). As a man with Apache roots, I was touched by his fusion of cultural gaps and his emphasis on caring and supporting those around you. His message is strong and his band’s performance is one of love.
By Kerri McCoy
Some say that we are the combination of the 5 people we interact with the most. The idea is built upon the the concept that we naturally elevate, or demote ourselves to those around us. But how does this really work? Is direct collaboration necessary? Can a team of four living thousands of miles apart from each other be close enough to be affected by this philosophy? 1of1’s development has been a jump out of comfort; it is exciting, exhausting and incredibly humbling. With countless long days blending into longer, sleepless nights, the decision to follow artistic dreams has been built into a business.
Since the spring of 2014 when Matt and Brianna first started working together, and their progression is entirely promising. After a little over two years of affluent collaboration, 1of1 is officially a licensed LLC and has grown to team of four members. Despite all of this recent success, it is intriguing to note that the team is currently in three cities across the country: Denver (Matt), Atlanta (Brianna) and Tallahassee (Daniel & Garret), where 1of1 was first created. The team continues to build and grow despite this distance given their determination to higher goals. They are strong support systems for each other and even hold weekly meetings to go over their to-do lists and just make shit happen in general. The team continues to provide feedback regardless of the distance. Excitement of new business cards, team changes, plans to rebrand the company, and ambition to grow in other cities fills every conversation I have with Matt.
With passion comes direction, and with direction comes a strong vision for the future, and often what people might be there with you along the way. Finding clients that mesh creatively into this vision is a rarity, but that just so happened with the team’s latest project, VICE. Out in the foothills of West Denver, the team curated a vision for artist Russell Grande.
1of1 is dedicated to establishing a real, down-to-Mars relationship with every artist/client; this includes collaborating on and portraying a next-level vision in the most creative way possible.
Having just relocated to Denver, Matt was eager to launch 1of1 in this beautiful and creative city. While looking for inspiration, he came across an article highlighting Denver’s top hip hop artists. Of these listed was Russell Grande. After connecting with Russell on Twitter, Matt reached out to Russell about potentially working together on a music video. Russell was impressed with the artistry he saw within previous 1of1 projects and invited Matt up to Fort Collins to see him perform. Upon arrival in Fort Collins, Matt had no idea what Russell even looked like but was optimistic after only being given a brief introduction of his musical catalogue. Beers were bought and mingling ensued in the young crowd where it was quickly discovered that Russell had just left the stage. It was unfortunate as the drive was more than an hour to get up to the venue, but the night would have to be worth it.
Whether it be a matter of fate or blind luck, one of the first conversations that Matt made was with quiet man with a hat on, standing at the edge of the crowd. The conversation was fresh, and immediately turned to the discrepancy of the artist who had just taken the stage; the artist seemed nervous, and his words did not match his tone of performance. As an artist, consistency in what you say and how you say it is crucial, and the two men’s conversation immediately turned to this concept. Funny enough, the man Matt had happened to make conversation with turned out to be Russell himself- and the connection was made. Later, Russell rejoined the stage to accompany his friend Delasean who was headlining the event in Fort Collins that night. The subject of the conversation earlier became even more important, as it was easy to see Russell’s performance was congruent to the personality of the man himself and the ideas he pronounced- both onstage and off. In doing so, he drew in the crowd with sharp wit and smooth lyrics without the need for antics. As a brand partner, Matt loved this, for the 1of1 team prides itself on accountability and “walking the walk”.
The shoot began in the Sante Fe art district – a scene that was perfect for the lively energy Delasean brought to the table. When discussing specific video details, Russell initially had city shots in mind. Matt was the one who suggested involving the mountains for a full Colorado vibe to make things a little more personal since Russell is a native Coloradan (although he was born in Atlanta). With the mountains now in the mix, so was the inconsistent weather that typically comes with it. The first day of shooting in the mountains did not go as planned, to say the least. Matt had sunny drone shots in mind for the first location, but the wind had other plans. We had to cut our first day short with the rain clouds seemingly following us to each new location. While testing the drone in windy locations, a tragedy occurred when it broke while Matt was trying to clean it. Shooting was put on a brief hold while Matt waited for the new drone to come in.
Two weeks later, we were ready to wrap up shooting, and Matt was more than determined to make it work regardless of the weather. As Murphy’s Law will have it, it downpoured all the way to our Red Rocks location. Fortunately, it stopped raining just in time for us to decide not to postpone yet again. Being the last shoot day, we decided to improvise and tried a few takes in someone’s front yard since there was a huge Red Rocks concert that night. We then wandered down to Dinosaur Ridge after a random passerby suggested it for beautiful mountain and city views. Upon our arrival, we decided to hike to the top for said views, but halfway up the sun made an appearance like a god sent from the heavens. Of course Matt took advantage of that opportunity, and it turned out to be one of the best takes in the video. Feeling inspired once we reached the top, Russell and Matt started experimenting with the drone, resulting in the up close joint smoking shot.
The mountain shots provided the large scope of the project, and a metaphor for the grand scale of the artist. Like many artists that 1of1 works with, Russell is incredible – unique, talented, and meticulous about his craft. Among the large numbers of artists nowadays, Russell differentiates himself and because of that, builds his network. As we are serious about our shit as well, we connect with others like this and help them grow. This shoot was a culmination of fun and productive expression between artists. In the future, we look to find more clients that will give us the opportunity to grow both their craft and ours.
What’s to Come
A rebranding stage is where 1of1 stands as an organization, company, and film conglomerate that is taking their art to higher heights. As an official company, our work is becoming more strategic, yet it still embodies the same passion that makes this type of work so fun. We are adding on new members of the team and looking for work in different areas. Differentiating ourselves and expanding in a way that will help both our clients and us excel in a market that is overly saturated with content is our main goal. With our perseverance and dedication to growing our own abilities as a team, we will attain that. The question is not if but when; and we will be patient.
With artists like Russell, we maintain communication so that we can keep track of their development to see how they are progressing. If we can do anything to help him in the future, we will. The video is live now! Go check it out!
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By Kerri McCoy
Bringing the Vision to Life
We were given total creative freedom when local Tallahassee artist M.E.R.C. initially consulted with us to create a short film music video for his latest solo project “The Ringer”. Brianna was eager to establish her role as director after listening to the song for the first time. The motif of nature within the lyrics (i.e. nature is my wifey) inspired her to personify Mother Nature as a beloved celebrity. This inspiration resulted in an extended visual metaphor demonstrating a seemingly more immediate destruction of human behavior on nature.
During the casting process, Daniel eventually came across Tia, a talented local artist. The role of Mother Nature was perfect for Tia, a woman who truly embodies the essence of an environmentalist. Not only is Tia naturally beautiful and elegant, she is an all around conscientious and happy person.
To put someone through the ringer is to purposely give someone a hard time or make them have an unpleasant experience. The use of this expression suggests a double meaning within the video. Viewers simultaneously hear “I put her through the ringer” – regarding Mother Nature – while experiencing the gradual impact of her interactions with blindfolded passerbys. These “earthlings” are very enthusiastic toward Mother Nature, though they are blind to the effect their actions have on her. Her spirit begins to dim only after wandering from her surreal, otherworldly home into a gloomy and destructive reality.
M.E.R.C. is the only other character featured without a blindfold, and he is also always displayed as a savior figure. From serving her an actual nutritious meal to finding her the perfect summer dress, he has established himself as a source of trust. Mother Nature is charmed by this sense of security, and she ventures through the gorgeous Dorothy B. Oven Park where she is the anticipated bride of a now blindfolded M.E.R.C. His hidden agenda becomes apparent in this plot twist, and Mother Nature is reluctant to wilt like the rose presented to her by her flower girl. However, like the quote Kip read during the wedding ceremony from Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss, “when you’re in a slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done”. Mother Nature finally yields to the stress the people have put on her by becoming blind like the rest of them.
Following this transformation, the wedding guests have lost interest in Mother Nature. She is no longer beautiful. She is jaded. We put her through the ringer.
A glimpse of Brianna and a framed chalkboard offers a concluding thought on the personification of Earth: “Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair” (Khalil Gibran).
While searching for locations, we had surreal beauty in mind. Several local parks around Tallahassee provided the perfect setting for Tia to indulge in the pleasant scenery around her. Myers Park and Lake Ella are featured in the nature-focused clips, and the wedding scene was held at Dorothy B. Oven Park. The majority of her negative encounters were filmed near the liberal and open-minded Gaines Street and Railroad Square Art Park. The people of this community were very supportive, which was very helpful during the filming process.
For as much planning that goes into a film shoot, you sometimes still need to improvise. Our initial vision consisted of a warm, sunshine-filled earth. However, the real Mother Nature had other things in mind. Basically the entire shoot was cold and rainy. This gloomy weather transformed our perspective, and it seemed to better exemplify our message. Despite her lack of comfortable clothing, Tia maintained her inner warmth and held a positive attitude throughout the process. She was definitely a trooper!
Locations were a big part of this film and some of them even happened by chance. The lake scene was suppose to be shot right on Railroad Ave, at the Bread & Roses cafe. After a scheduling conflict presented itself on the morning of the shoot, we had only minutes to figure out a plan b–this day was the day of the wedding scene and had little room for error! We ran around town looking for other places to shoot a cafe setting at, but everywhere was booked with Sunday morning crowds. We ended up stumbling upon the beautiful lake ella setting after we had nearly run out of options! The setting was gloomy with the morning fog and matched our other scenes wonderfully; we got extremely lucky! Maybe it was a bit of karma after all the unfortunate events!
Daniel was happy to assume the role as producer, and he was in charge of searching for locations and extras. It was strange to pitch the blindfold idea, but he was able to confirm twenty extras. Only thirteen people actually came out to Dorothy B. Oven for the wedding scene, but the shooting style portrays it as a larger event. Daniel was also unfortunately involved in a petty car accident on the way to the wedding scene, but he somehow still made it on set with the help of one of the extras. That shows you where his priorities were that day, but we couldn’t have done it without D. Wind. He would never let us down!
Matt worked with several different shooting styles throughout this project. In order to demonstrate a peaceful vibe he tried to film things in one long shot. After venturing through the portal into the new world, Matt shot a lot of clips both from an on looker’s perspective and Mother Nature’s point of view. He incorporated chaotic camera movement toward the end of the video in order to illustrate the tension Mother Nature was forced to encounter. The shooting style of the scenes was meant to match their tone with movement: The opening scene is curious and flowing, so the glidecam created shots with more movement. Other scenes like the store scene were done primarily with tripod pans as it was a indoor environment and needed more precision!
With over 150 clips per scene, we definitely had options to choose from. We decided to take a non-linear approach when telling this story, and Brianna helped Matt determine which clips were the best to include, leading to the final project we present to you today! Brianna’s edits helped condense the final product down to a reasonable length; while many of the shots did not involve any lip-syncing, there were specific shots across the scenes that we had M.E.R.C. say the lyrics. Fitting these into to their planned spots proved to be quite difficult. The first edit consisted of the forest scene being more than two minutes long, when it was only planned to be in the first 40 seconds of the song. Each of the scenes individually could have been half of the video, so with five scenes, many changes had to be made to fit everything in. Brianna’s edits as director made the “trimming the fat” process of “killing your babies” easier, as Matt was very attached to the clips he shot! Even with an additional intro and outro to the video, cutting clips down was difficult. Overall, there were many great shots and even entire scenes that were omitted, leading to the end result.
Brianna’s vision for Mother Nature’s homeland was “otherworldly”. She wanted Mother Nature to glow and her surroundings to be bright pink. The first minute or so of the film, Mother Nature is surrounded in a familiar place; she walk across a land that she knows and it loves her back. But when she got to the “real world”, it is colder and more grim. The use of color grading is heavy to distinguish the two scenes, though it proved to be quite a task. This transformation of the color scheme proved to be very difficult in the editing process, for there was the conflict of noise showing up in the video with the various color grading attempts. The main issue we experienced was that changing the whole landscape from green to another color was that the varying shades of green–in the forest and with lighting changes from shot to shot– created a different effect when the color was changed. The first step became to color correct and level all of the clips in the forest to a similar level of brightness, contrast and saturation. This itself was difficult given the varying lenses used, the changing time of day of which the shots were taken over, and the different locations used.
Once everything was as even as we could make it, then came the color grading. Using Magic Bullet Looks, we used an effect called HLS saturation to adjust the hues and saturation levels across the colors. At first, the world was a variety of colors before we decided on a pink hue… However the problem lied in the details with the trees showing slight levels of pink noise from the moss that was found on them. The green leotard also would contain visible noise during the lighting changes from the golden-hour shoot. Varying combinations were done; over 30 versions of the color grading were made until the final version was decided upon. The light greens were changed to a golden yellow, dark greens to a rich magenta– Matt worked extensively alongside Brianna on creating the perfect pink world that you can enjoy at the video’s introduction. It was not nearly a perfect effect, but the final version showed a color that looked visually appealing and functioned well in contrast to the “earth” scenes during the rest of the video. This color grade was layered with a grain to smooth out the two scenes and provide a vintage look with a nice feel.
We hope you enjoyed our visual metaphor along with M.E.R.C.’s talent, and remember to be conscious of the effect your actions have on the our beloved earth. Namaste.
Watch our behind the scenes video here:
And checkout the official video here: