Racial tensions of the past and present are thrown into the spotlight in Red White and Black, the new single by Californian singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop and the stunning video that accompanies it.
Directed by Elia Petridis, the video – better described as a short film – is an epic fight scene, shot in a single take.
It follows an African American protagonist (Alyma Dorsey – a Hollywood stunt artist known for The Defenders, Luke Cage, and Captain Marvel) leading Jesca through a labyrinthine building, as she fends off assaults from a series of masked attackers.
While she sings, and guards her guitar from the chaos around her [Elia assures me no guitars were harmed in the making of this film!], Jesca witnesses the relentness battle her guide has to fight, until at the end, she decides she must join the struggle against injustice too.
Elia said: “Making this video called for a true meeting of the minds of our diverse cast and crew. The undertones of this song were so raw in regards to Jesca’s expressive protest against racial tensions in our modern age. We wanted to make a piece that mirrored her stand in contributing to moving the conversation forward and at the same time invited everyone in to feel safe to discuss around it. In the end, hopefully, you come for the fight scene, stay to unpack its meaning, and lose yourself emotionally in the video along the way.”
The fight is spectacular, and being filmed in one take makes it all the more impressive. I imagined it must have taken months of rehearsal to perfect it, but Elia corrected me: “We rehearsed for a day actually. And it did have to be right on point, absolute precision. But it was so fun to write that way. To see a fight up on its legs and then step in and adjust according to story, tension, and scene work as opposed to violence and spectacle. The emotional blow of each punch, every kick, was what we were dialing in.
“We did it because we were inspired by close combat (Atomic Blonde, Hanna, Munich, Casino Royale). As a filmmaker, once the creative idea was in line with the song, I kind of wanted to get it off my bucket list, as in, ‘If I ever did a fight scene, I would do it like this…’ I wanted to test myself.”
Elia certainly passes the test – it’s a remarkable film, marking the fifth collaboration between this filmmaker and musician. I asked him how the pair connected in the first place: “Way back in 2005ish, a friend of mine advised I go see her show. I went on a whim as my night was open and the rest is history. It was at Temple Bar in Santa Monica and she got wheeled out and wound up like a marionette because it was Halloween. I was hooked. She was also surrounded by the most amazing live players and the set was excellent. After the show I torpedoed my way towards her at the bar and told her we would be friends. A decade later, she’s still coming to terms of whether we will or won’t!”
The track Red White and Black is out now, ahead of the album Stonewall, which is due to be relased on Friday this week (July 5th 2019). You can watch the film here.
As the production banner of director Elia Petridis, Filmatics is known for exceptional work on music videos and films, including The Man Who Shook The Hand Of Vincent Fernandez starring a posthumous performance by Ernest Borgnine. I’m hoping we’ll post more about Elia’s work in future.
Thanks to Dawn Noel, a talented actor and producer, who first featured in this blog a few years ago, for making the connection.
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