In all my falling behind on this blog -- I never got around to mentioning the Josh Osho video that has since been released.
I got the track 'Giants' through the fine folks at OBManagement via commissioner Ailsa Robertson in the UK... and immediately loved it. The song is so big and positive and completely free of irony or cynicism. Just a huge, uplifting song.
After a chat with Ailsa I started piecing together the concept. Pure positivity and celebration. I wanted to celebrate Giants of African American culture -- and to do so using creative means. So, very quickly the idea for the mural and block party came together.
I had the fortune of meeting Josh when I was in London for a screening of my documentary, and we spoke in depth about the mural, its aesthetic, and most importantly which cultural luminaries should be depicted on the wall. As it turns out, we're both huge fans of boxing and quickly fell into conversation about Black Jack Johnson.
Obviously, Muhammad Ali would be a more visually iconic character -- particularly for a younger generation -- but we landed on these particular characters (Jack Johnson, Jesse Owens & Chuck Berry) because they should be more renowned today for their legendary contributions.
The video was shot in one day at the Graffiti Lab, an incredible location and non-profit that provides a haven for young graffiti artists to practice their work.
The cast and crew were tremendous and I'll say that this was my favorite ever day on set. The positivity of the track and the concept bled over into the work environment and the production truly felt like the block party we hoped to capture. And from my perspective, while directing, the best results seem to come when nobody has to act at all.
The biggest challenge in making the video was that Gambino unfortunately wasn't able to come to our shoot (see: shattered ankle). So we were left with a minute+ verse in the middle of the song that had to feel visually motivated and continuous.
I was given some rather grimy live footage of Gambino performing the track, but knew that we'd have to be a bit more innovative during this sequence in the video. So I thought it would be great if we cast a young look-alike of 8-year old Gambino and him rap the verse. Well, the night before our shoot our young look-alike champion cancelled. So what did we do?
We quickly cast another young boy who, admittedly, looked much less like Gambino... We quickly dressed the new young sort-of Gambino in a silk screened t-shirt with Gambino's face on it and tried again. And when I asked this next little boy if he was ready for his close-up... his eyes welled up and he gave me the "I didn't do my homework" look.
Plans C & D: Just start rounding up kids and teaching them the verse. The more the merrier. And at this point we struck gold with our three young girls and little boy #3. They were SUPERSTARS. We choreographed a dance number with our three girls and the boy nailed the rap so hard that half the youtube comments below the video ask for the name of this young phenom rapper.
Great times and I hope you love the video.
You can watch the video here or on youtube.