In his video for BANKS' Drowning, Mike Piscitelli has put the sole focus on the singer – in actual fact, an infinite number of BANKSes, as she finds herself surrounded by, and interacting with her reflections. And the result is a confident and assured performance in a beautiful surroundings, which both highlights the artist and the track itself.
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.
Are there any other soon to be superstar acts you want to work with?
There are so many but my top 3 at the moment would have to be: Blake Mills - I'm ery excited for the release of his record; Future Islands. Samuel T. Herring is one of my favorite performers of all time; and Beyonce. I know I’m a little late on this one, but who wouldn't want to hang with Bey...?