David Knight - 17th Aug 2020

Otis Dominique and Ellington Hammond co-direct this celebration of Black lives, for Jorja Smith's By Any Means, the lead release of Roc Nation's Reprise project, comprised of multiple artists uniting to let their voices be heard in musical protest.

Working with producer Precious Mahaga and DoP Joel Honeywell, the video is a breathtaking series of photojournalistic portraits documenting the breadth of the Black British experience, intercut with Jorja Smith's performance of By Any Means. Conceived by Jorja Smith and Hammond, her longtime collaborator, London-based Dominique joined to co-direct when it was clear that the American photographer and filmmaker would not be able to travel to the UK for the shoot.

The first of a three day shoot was spent on the performance, shot at Jorja's home, in a more visually crafted set-up. That was followed by two whirlwind days shooting their documentary subjects, the first in various locations in London; the second in Luton, Birmingham and Walsall - Jorja Smith's hometown. The result is extraordinary - an extensive authentic snapshot of a nation.

"We went all over the place, and when we couldn't make to everyone's homes, we had people come to meet us halfway," says Precious Mahaga, who like other crew members recruited family members to appear in the video. "In fact, Alice Dearing, the only Black member of the Great Britain swimming team, came all the way from Manchester and met us at my mum's house in Luton."

They finished the shoot in Walsall, where Jorja Smith's cousin acted as unofficial casting agent, bringing together members of the community to appear in what turned out to be the final part of the video - an impromptu gathering, welcoming Jorja back home. "Our last shot was at Jorja's cousin's house - he phoned up a lot of people," recalls Mahaga. "Jorja was there to sing the song, and she became really too emotional at that point to perform with everyone there." 

Jorja Smith has commented: “The inspiration behind ‘By Any Means’ really came from going to the Black Lives Matter protest and leaving thinking, what can I do to keep this conversation going? It’s not just a post on social media, it’s life.”

A statement from Roc Nation adds: “This collection of songs was compiled with hopes to bring awareness to social justice issues. A portion of proceeds will go to funding organisations that support victims of police brutality, hate crimes, and other violations of civil rights​.”

ELLINGTON HAMMOND:

I am proud to be who I am no matter if my home isn’t proud of me.

"The events of 2020, mainly the televised murder of George Floyd in broad daylight by the people in uniform that we not only put our blind faith into but pay to protect us, have forcibly opened the eyes of many who previously preferred to remain blissfully ignorant to the fact that Black men and women have never been afforded the same basic human and civil rights as others.

"Though the words “Black Lives Matter” have never reverberated so loudly across the globe as they do now, Black lives have always mattered and it’s a shame people have to be reminded of that.

"Being Black is something I’ve always been proud of. Not because I think my race is better than another’s, but because the systematic oppression and racism built into the country that I call my home has always taught me that I was less than. I am proud to be who I am no matter if my home isn’t proud of me.

"It is in this pride that encourages me to do everything in my power to fight for who I am in everything that I do. It is in the beautiful actions and words of my Black brothers and sisters that give me strength to continue when all seems for naught. It is in Jorja’s powerful lyrics that the words “Black is Beautiful” has never seemed so true. This video is testament to it all."

PRO Credits

Credits

DirectorOtis Dominique
DirectorEllington Hammond
ProducerPrecious Mahaga
Creative DirectorErin Corrian-Alexis
1st ADSteven Eniraiyetan
2nd ACKairo Jones
GafferChris Dowling
HairZateesha Barbour
Make-upCarol Lopez Reid
EditorJames Demetriou
ColouristLuke Morrison
Grading companyElectric Theatre Collective
Post ProducerOliver Whitworth
CommissionerErin Corrian-Alexis
LabelFAMM
Other creditsProduction Assistant: Hannah Cameron-Grant Film Processing: Andy Hudson Film Scanning: James Wren Film Dailies Producer: Aarti Mahtani BTS: Rashidi Noah

David Knight - 17th Aug 2020

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