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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