DP Luis Perez on 'Empty' and working with Kevin Abstract

If you haven't already watched Kevin Abstract's music video for 'Empty' (such a broad term for the content that's out there nowadays) you should try to do that as quickly as possible. You might get the same sense you get from watching one of your favorite films; this isn't a production made for money, this is something bigger that digs at you feelings. 

As a huge fan of not only Kevin Abstract and the rest of Brockhampton team, I was lucky to be able to ask director of photography Luis Perez , who's also worked with a roster of amazing talent such as Anderson .Paak and Tyler, the Creator, a few questions on the process behind the art. 

(In your own words) who are you and what do you do?

I’m just a simple guy who loves to take photographs and occasionally they happening to be moving as a director of photography. ­­­­­­

 How would you personally describe the mood or the feeling that the ‘Empty” video evokes?

The feeling is one of love postponed. You have a love triangle play out in a very direct manner. You have a boyfriend not coming to terms in time with himself to tell is girlfriend who he really is and in the process hurting people who care for him and ultimately himself.



What was it like working with Kevin Abstract who directed the video and obviously has such a strong creative vision of his own? What was the process of brainstorming to creation like?

Working with Kevin was very easy due to his ability to articulate what he visually saw for the story and his concise reference library of movies that helped shape our approach. I first got a call from his management Chris and Brian of 4strikes who I’ve worked with before since they also manage Tyler and a few other oddfuture artists. They went over whom he was and what he wanted to do. I immediately loved what Kevin wanted to do and the ball rolled from there. They sent me the treatment, which was basically a few picture references, and lines that outlined the narrative. From there we corresponded by email and ultimately a meeting face to face.  Once we met we vibe’d and expounded a bit from the original idea to include a few set ups that help create a level tension and emotional impact.

Was there a specific way you captured the suburban and adolescent feel of ‘Empty’ through the aspects of cinematography?

Well Kevin being a fan of Paul Thomas Anderson like myself we agreed it had to be shot with anamorphic lenses.  With shooting anything with anamorphic lenses there is a really soft and textured way light and color is picked up by either film or chip.  Being that we were going with and Alexa as our camera it was a perfect mix of old glass with new technology. This allowed for the moments when lit by the sun not feel over whelming and the softly lit intimate moments feel more pronounced. Kevin insistence in shooting his bike ride with the boyfriend at dusk kept the warm tones of the bedroom continuous until the end



How do you create a piece of work that accomplishes what the artist wants visually while at the same time making something that you love yourself?

Filmmaking is a collaborative process. No one gets what he or she really wanted no matter how much money is being spent. As a filmmaker you have to be able to compromise along the way in order to do what’s best for the project. There are times as a creative you are allowed to be selfish and get something that you can point at and say that’s me but that’s not something I look for when taking on projects. I would like to think that anyone who hires me hires me because they saw or see the potential in collaborating with me and entrusting me with their vision. Your name ultimately will be attached to the project you are creating so you will always need to find something to love about it regardless big or small.

·Do you take on most projects you’re contacted about or do you prefer to work with people who’s own artistic ideas you admire?

I’m not allergic to money lets start by saying that but I do feel at this point in my career that if the projective doesn’t peak my creative interest I find it hard to accept. 

 If you could give someone looking to get into cinematography/film making one piece of advice what would it be?

Be yourself and find your voice in your approach. There is only one you so why try to be someone else.


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An Update on the State of the Youth with Titus Gilner

Mediocracy is the new norm. From never ending list articles stating “top 10 this” to “look at what female celebrity posted a butt pic on Instagram today,” the quality put on the internet seems to dwindle every day. But in the sauce of Buzzfeed articles and Complex written pieces (ahem talking about that Kendrick Lamar write up) there are a few winners. One of these young individuals is Titus Gilner, found of course through my routine web stalking of so called cool people, I was immediately impressed by the honesty found in his social media postings and musings. On his newly launched site a little while ago Titus posted an opinion piece entitled The State of the Youth.

Full of relevations I agree with, I found comfort in knowing that someone else was looking in at our generation while simultaneously living in it. Delve into generation y:

As a member of generation y and a society that is constantly pressuring us to make decisions, how would you describe yourself right at this moment? (Perhaps an “occupation” or just student or something way different)

Stuck in a vacuum. Stranded on an island. Lost in the desert. Falling perpetually. All of those cliches about feeling uncomfortable in life's current stage. I don't have a job and I am not in school. I'm probably going back to school sometime, though. I am just as confused and unsure about the future as anyone else my age, I think the only thing that separates me from a lot of people is I at least recognize that this feeling is wrong and not the way it should be. When people ask me what I do I tell them "I'm always just chilling."


Was there a particular event or sudden thought that inspired you to write state of the youth?

 I was at my brothers apartment and he was taking gravity bong hits with his friend that neither of us really like and I don't smoke weed. I felt like I was some cliche character in a coming of age movie sitting on the floor in college apartments watching my friends mindlessly take gravity bong hits and I had to do something to snap myself out of it, so I wrote state of the youth for myself because it is everything I needed to hear at the moment. I write exactly how I think. 

In your opinion is there a recipe for staying true to yourself while growing up or is it more about (hopefully) learning to cut through the bullshit?

 There is no right way to be yourself. There are only wrong ways to be yourself. When you try to be or do something that you really don't give a fuck about you are being yourself wrong. I think the most affect thing is BALANCE, you gotta allow yourself to be comfortable in your own skin while at the same time adapting to your surroundings so that you can strive in the world a little easier. People that figure out how to get to the top before they have ever been to the bottom don't last long. I strongly believe that if you want to be the best you that you can be you first gotta know what its like to be the worst you that you can be


Who are some of the individuals you look up to for creativity/paving their own path?

Kris Kidd, Ernest Baker, Nok from the Future, and all of my homies from BROCKHAMPTON. I wanna look like Kris Kidd, act like Ernest Baker, think like Nok, and be as respected as Brockhampton.

(If you know) what do you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?

 I just want a nobel peace prize. :-(


Is the internet more positive or negative in the sense that it has almost entirely consumed our day to day lives and turned us into half virtual creatures?

Like the internet my answer is not black and white. the internet does not make people virtual entities anymore than real life makes people physical entities. What makes people who they are is the combination of things that go into their personas. Someone that plays baseball, listens to Rat, wears Lucky Brand Jeans, thinks that weed is bad, and really enjoys the Avenger movies is someone that plays baseball, listens to Rat, wears Lucky Brand Jeans, thinks that weed is bad, and really enjoys the Avenger movies. They are not just a baseball player. The internet broadens the spectrum of individuality more than ever. The person that i just described is subscribed to TheNeedleDrop on YouTube, follows Lebron James on twitter, reads the Onion articles, really enjoys WSHH Vine Comps, and only follows people that they know in real life. So maybe they are a half virtual person, but then maybe they are a half physical person too. Instead of the negative connotation that goes with people having essentially two different lives I think we should look at internet use as an extension of the self rather than an obstacle. Besides, having too much of a real life can cut into your virtual life and having too much of a virtual life can cut into your real life. Some of us need to find balance. I need to find balance.

What will we learn in 2016?

 2015 really wasn't $#it

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