MIKE PISCITELLI x BANKS

INFINITE . BANKS . LOVE

Director: Mike Piscitelli

Original Feature: Promo News

How she’s blossomed. Having called the rise of BANKS back in April 2013 we almost feel like a proud parent. As must many. BANKS has once again upped her game with silent subtle style. This time Mike Piscitelli took a gamble and the BANKS made good; focusing solely on the artist has paid dividends. Outfits twist yet stick as mirrors welcome us to the world of BANKS. A reflective delight.

So we caught up with Mike Piscitelli to find out how he got the best out of BANKS, how he kept the camera hidden from shot in a room of mirrors, and why styling was important to the project.

Luke Tierney: BANKS has been on everyones lips as well as headphones for the past year, have you been a fan of BANKS for a while? How did this project come about? 

Mike Piscitelli: I had heard of Banks but I was not familiar with her music or her at all. i-D had sent me the track to see if I would be interested in writing on it and I was instantly into her music. Then I googled her and learned what a cool and thoughtful visual approach she had taken with her photos and videos and I got to writing…

The concept centers completely around BANKS, did you know she would be up to the task beforehand?

With all videos I think you have to take a leap of faith that on the day of the shoot the stars will align and the artist will be in a good mood and rested. To be honest I really had no idea if she would be up to the task since we didn’t speak till day of… luckily, she brought more than enough to her performance to keep the clip engaging all the way through.

To what extent were shots preplanned?

There was a small shot list planned but there really wasn’t a way to know exactly how it would look shooting through one-sided mirrors until we had the set built. Since this was a pretty modest budget we didn’t have a ton of time to prep this job and the set was only built the day before the shoot. Luckily I had an amazing producer, (Logan Adermatt) DP, (Michael Stine) and art director (Bryn Bowen) that were able to run a few tests with me the night before to make sure the idea would actually work the way we had planned.

The infinity room is beautiful, where did you shoot the promo?

We built the set and shot the video at Evidence Film Studios in Los Angeles.

Was it tough to keep the camera hidden in a room made of mirrors?

The entire video was shot from the outside of the set using one-sided mirrors. In the treatment I wrote “There will be a true honesty and subtly that exists throughout her performance since she won’t be able to see when the camera is actually shooting her but she will be able to see herself.” I was into the idea of an artist getting to see her performance in real time and how they might interact with themselves. It turned out to be a bit more challenging for BANKS in the beginning not knowing where the camera was, but as the day went on and she was able to see the footage she became much more comfortable being so isolated, and her performances became more intense.

Styling subtly adds another dimension to the performance, especially through colour, how important was styling for you? 

Since this was a video that came through i-D, the fashion was a key element. As soon as my treatment was approved I started talking with Alastair McKimm, i-D’s fashion editor, about where he wanted to take BANKS’s fashion. It was his idea to put her in three identical outfits but in three different colours, and I think it made the final product so much better. Maya Krispin (stylist) pulled the final outfit and somehow managed to find it in three colours.

DAVID WILSON x ARCADE FIRE

WE . ARE . HERE

Director: David Wilson

The debate has been open on the theme of transgender in this promo for Arcade Fire’s ‘We Exist. Openly gay Director David Wilson has had his say being incredibly honest, Arcade Fire’s frontman Win Butler has stepped in and most outspokenly transgender Laura Jane Grace. We side with Win on this one, being a confused teen and seeing Spiderman dressed as a woman would inspire more people globally than nearly anybody else. Laura does have a point but also misses the point. Millions of people have watched the video. Millions of people are debating the issue. This in itself is true power to making a change. The video aint bad either.

DANNY SANGRA x CLUB KURU

 FRAME . FLASH . MEMORY

Director: Danny Sangra

Club Kuru has become an instant favourite over here at word is cheap, moody grumblings have never looked and sounded sweeter. We have Danny Sangra to thank for the visuals and thus for pushing Club Kuru in our direction. He has managed to match the song beat for beat, shot for shot, perfectly encapsulating the tone and feeling. Edit, location and styling dominate. A continental paradise implodes as the climax builds distorting now muddled memories.

Possibly our favourite video of the year so far, at least top three!, we had to get in touch with Danny to find out; how best to shoot on a budget, what the importance of the edit was and just who is Club Kuru?

wic: The track demands (perhaps post seeing the promo) a cinematic love engagement as moody vocals meet minor chords. How did the project with Club Kuru come about and did you instantly know what you wanted to do when hearing the track?

DC: It was a mutual friend (Jess Jobst) who told me about Club Kuru. She thought it would be perfect to make a video for and told me to listen to his stuff. I hadn’t made a music promo in a while, however  as soon as I heard the tracks I was in. It immediately felt cinematic. The problem was (typically) how to do cinematic on a budget. Jess had a styling in mind and so I knew we had to find a location that we didn’t need to build.

Where was the promo shot? There are a tonne of perfectly framed shots, how long did they take to find?

We filmed in Trieste, Italy. Laurie Erksine (Club Kuru) knew the area well. We had some specific ideas for scenes. I knew the key elements of story I wanted to shoot. Then we just drove around and found places that looked interesting. As I was shooting it myself. It meant the minute I saw something we could stop and film. Then move on. I shot as much as I possibly could. I didn’t have any lights so I used natural light for pretty much for all of it. Did the best I could with what was available.

I recently read an article about what is in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. Of course we want to know, what’s written on those documents?

Haha it’s better if Laurie told you that. Those are his words and wouldn’t sound as good coming from me.

The cast and clothes really round off the look of the promo, subtle glamour, was this the aim?

Yes that was the aim. Jess Jobst and Kat Hawker worked out the styling and Sarianne Plaisant dressed the sets to make sure everything felt part of the same world. We wanted a slightly Talented Mr Ripley vibe mixed with late sixties cinema styling. Jess and I would pass back and forth films and trailers. The area already felt like it could be a Godard film setting (e.g Le Mépris shot in Capri) so it was down to the styling of everything to emphasize this.

The editing adds to the emotion throughout helping set the tone, especially at the end, was this always the plan?

From the beginning we knew that the film wasn’t going to be a straight forward narrative. This video was all about the edit for me. The video wasn’t about the narrative making sense it didn’t have to. The idea was to show the destruction of memory loss. The track builds up and so the edit matched the rythmn. As I cut the video I pushed the edit into two extremes. The uncomfortably long to the crescendo of single frame flashes.

Who is Club Kuru? Was there a chance of him/her/them making an appearance?

He’s the guy in the video!