Promonews - 24th May 2021

Following their recent collaboration on the visual for Water, Adam De Silva returns to direct the video for Northampton rapper DeBe’s Not That Strong - the fifth track from his debut project The Last Breath.

Juxtaposing the cheeky arrogance that he displayed in Water, this one plunges DeBe headfirst into a brutal gangland scene. From this tense situation comes a more reflective mental state as he grapples with the trials and tribulations of his past. While he faces his execution, we also see another DeBe - the white tracksuited gangster boss. Although we may think that a flashback to his former self, there is a twist in this tale. 

DeBe's double performance is charismatic throughout, and De Silva has brought some powerful artistic influences - Caravaggio, Gregory Crewdson - into play on the video, as he explains below.

The close relationship that director and artist developed through making their first video has made this one possible, and DoP Bart Bazaz gives the scenario a cinematic heft that belies the budget - filmed on a cold spring night where temperatures plummeted to a bone-chilling -4 C˚.

ADAM DE SILVA:

It's important that the audience draw their own conclusions why two DeBe characters exist in the video.

“In essence the video is about choices. Whether that's exploring life choices and how it's never too late to pull yourself out of the hole you’ve put yourself in, or on a deeper level, exploring how an audience can choose how they wish to interpret a story.

“The first time I spoke to DeBe - even before we collaborated together on the Water video - he told me how he felt like his life could have gone one of two ways and that choosing the right path had stopped himself going down a dark hole. It wasn’t a huge statement or anything, yet it stood out to me. It was such a reflective statement that told me so much about him and went so far to explaining his incredible work ethic. By the time we were discussing Not That Strong, I immediately knew I needed to convey that idea in a visual way.

“From a visual perspective, I drew reference the classical painter Caravaggio, whose dark scenes would often have a character engulfed by others accosting them. I wanted to meld those traditional references with the ominous photography of Gregory Crewdson who utilises thoughtful casting and staging to tell a story that the audience interprets themselves. You only have to look at those centuries- old paintings or a Crewdson image for a second and you can instantly begin to create a whole narrative about what’s happening. I wanted to do that with the video and lead the audience in a way that they too could draw their own conclusions.

"It was very important to me that the audience drew their own conclusions as to why the two DeBe characters existed within the video. It is my hope that people may initially believe that the white-costumed DeBe in the back of the car symbolises a time when DeBe was moving successfully in the criminal world, but because of something going awry in this life, he now finds himself in black, on his knees with a gun to his head. I wanted to sustain this right up until the concluding moments when they finally realise the white DeBe is in fact a saviour or executioner. Is he there to rescue himself or put himself out of his misery?

"The whole concept relies on the viewer creating their own assumptions and making a choice on what the narrative means to them. Much like the classical paintings or a Crewdson photograph, the audience decide whether DeBe killed or saved himself.

“The shoot itself was a ton of fun, if not a little chilly. Everyone from the cast to the crew were on point throughout - and we managed to shiver through it together. We basically created the whole thing from next to nothing, so I owe a huge debt of thanks to everyone who brought this one to fruition. It really was a labour of love but we managed to create something I’m really proud of."

Credits

DirectorAdam De Silva
ProducerJosh Monie
Production CompanyExplore Impossible
Director of PhotographyBart Bazaz
Focus PullerLewis Morgan
GafferCallum Wachowski
Editing companyExplore Impossible
Grading companyExplore Impossible
Post production companyExplore Impossible
Other creditsProduction Assistants - Dan Davies & Ryan Johnson BTS Photographer - Alex Potton Artist Management - Isus Calmellow Cast - DeBe (himself), Dean Ball (Thug 1), Matt Johnson (Thug 2), Hobe (DeBe Body Double) Special thanks: Callum Wachowski, Cooke Optics, Energy Generator Hire, Shoot Blue & W A Carr & Sons

Promonews - 24th May 2021

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