Koffee ft Gunna 'W' by Matt Baron
Matt Baron lends his cinematic eye to an upbeat and melodic track from Jamaican reggae singer and rapper Koffee in the video for W, shot in and around her Kingston, Jamaica.
Baron imagines that a hurricane about to hit landfall on the island - a prospect that brings the community together in a church service where Koffee performs. But the extreme weather event brings a surprising bounty - instead of damage and destruction sweeping across the island, there's a storm of money. It's a unavoidable, naturally-occurring positive event that invigorates rather than devastates.
As the video follows Koffee and her community as they prepare for the worst, and then rejoice in the miraculous occurence, Baron gives the story a cinematic scope to create an absorbing and uplifting film.
How did you come up with your idea for the Koffee video. Is it something you've been mulling over for a while?
My original pitch for this video involved a drone lighting technique and infrared cameras. Then I got Koffee’s feedback which completely changed the idea. She wanted money, and lots of it. But she didn’t just want her to be winning, she wanted it to be a win for everyone.
I really didn’t want to make a typical rap video which has artists shoving cash and their wealth in the viewers face. Aside from it being a tired idea I didn’t think it reflected Koffee’s humble demeanour and appreciation of community. Somehow, I started thinking of the money as more of an element Rather than a currency... What if it just flew by in the frame like shrapnel of paper?
I thought about someone performing against wind with all this money flying past them. It made me think of reporters during storms and hurricanes. I thought about how so many hurricanes hit the Caribbean and often underprivileged people are getting hit the worst. I wondered what would the opposite of a natural disaster look like. What if people were better off afterwards? If God could send down a blessing instead of a curse. This idea really matched with the lyrics, lose the L take the W as well as Koffee’s positive messaging.
The rest of the idea came together pretty naturally and was structured around the timing of the money reveal with Gunna‘s performance. The first half would be a misdirect using classic storm preparation imagery and the second half would be the about the rejoice when things take a turn for the better.
What were the big challenges of making the idea work as a video?
The main challenge was selling the imminent storm and making it feel believable and big. This required lots of lighting design and sound design. To further sell the idea of the storm we added fast moving smoke and attach light pieces of plastics and tarps to our sets that could blow in even the gentlest wind.
We made sure to avoid shooting trees in our compositions as non-moving trees wouldn’t suggest we had storm level winds. But it turns out it is quite challenging to find locations in Jamaica that don’t have any foliage. Luckily, we finally found Port Royal, a small fishing town outside of Kingston which is on the front line for any storms that hit the island, and where mandatory evacuations are called for when these storms turn into hurricanes. We got lucky to have partly cloudy weather and waited to shoot a lot of our street exteriors until the sun was covered to create the overcast tones we associate with storms.
How did you make create the 'raining banknotes effect' - and was that difficult to achieve?
The vast majority of these shots were done practically. Getting the huge quantities of money to fall and fly through frame in a natural way was the biggest challenge of this video. This is way harder than other types of atmosphere like fake rain or snow because there are no machines you can just rent to make it rain money!
Our production designer Nicole and her team tried a few different techniques before we found a reliable way to get that money to fly. And believe me it was hard work. Every time a take was finished we would have to collect all the money and get it loaded in large cardboard boxes. In the end, we used a combination of leaf blowers, fans and a lot of helping hands to feed the money into them.
I knew that we would need a few big wides to sell the size and power of the storm. In the end, we had around 3 or 4 big VFX shots where we replaced the sky and dropped in our big storm cells. These shots added a lot of production value while helping explain the source of all this mysterious raining cash, which was actually being projected right off the side of camera!
|Service Producer||Carleene Samuels|
|Production Company||Partizan Darkroom|
|Executive Producer||Mayling Wong|
|1st AD||Jay Will|
|Director of Photography||Minka Farthing Kohl|
|Focus Puller||David Duran|
|2nd AC||Jade Brown|
|Art Director||Nicole Marsh|
|Hair & Make-up||Nadia|
|Editing company||Modern Post|
|Grading company||MPC LA|
|Director's Representation||Claire Stubbs @ Mouthpiece|
|Other credits||Service Company Production Co-Ordinator - Lisa Smith Key Grip - Jacob Morgan Art Assists - Kaydean Brown, Mario Perkins, Chip Cast Wardrobe - Tamo Ennis Sony Music - Marketing Manager - Joel Quartey Photographer - Frank Fieber|
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