How do you create a 3 to 5 minutes video out of hours of video reels without compromising the ideas and vision of the artist, and also elicit the desired satisfaction from the viewing audience?
This is mostly the challenge of directors in the audio-visual space. Even the most experienced music video directors and filmmakers cannot avoid these circumstances. Shooting the video is not the hardest part. Developing the concept and the treatment along with editing the footages into a seamless video – with fitting scenes or frames is one that get every video director or filmmaker exhaustive especially when the client is one who knows exactly what they want.
One artist whose videos continuously marries art with great storytelling imbued with incredible symbolism is M.anifest. Even with his simple videos, the art is not compromised. To achieve this means hiring the best video directors who could translate his imagination into a tangible piece of work worth appreciating. In comes the award winning South African filmmaker and music video director Makere Cross Thekiso. The co-founder of Callback Dream Studios has collaborated with M.anifest on a few projects, mostly short film styled music videos. Among the videos directed by him include the ballet inspire ‘’Simple Love’’, ‘’Be My Woman’’ and ‘’Azumah Nelson Flow’’.
For Makere Thekiso, short films with strong storytelling is where his excitements lay. ‘’I really enjoy films that are the “Mecca” of storytelling, and I also love short form because you can really focus on the small details’’, he stated in one interview.
A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity of watching a 10 minute behind-the-scenes footage of M.anifest’s Simple Love, Me Ne Woa and Azumah Nelson Flow videos. The footages capture in detail, the dress rehearsals of the actors cast in both videos- the dance movements, scene dialogues, costuming and the sight-and-sounds of scouted locations.
Scene transitions and continuity are brilliantly handled by Thekiso. In one of the scenes, M.anifest offers an unsatisfactory explanation to his partner on why he showed up late for a dinner date (as seen in the Me Ne Woa video). Earlier, the rapper had in a previous scene tried to fend off an ‘’are-your-friends-more-important-than-me? probe.
The scene where M.anifest offers a response considered passive, the next scene shows the rapper in conversation about the meaning of love with his renowned grandfather. His grandfather, the legendary musicologist, Prof. Emeritus Kwabena Nketsiah offers his grandson a lifetime insight into what love means and how to build a successful love relationship. The conversation was the last the two had prior to grandpa’s passing. Part of this conversation was tucked at the end of the video for ‘’Me Ne Woa’’.
Music also plays an important part in this short film. Choosing the perfect song to score some of the scenes according to Thekiso took a lot of time. Among the songs chosen were Eziko Lamaphupho by South African act Sabelo Soko; Azumah Nelson Flow; Fine Fine featuring Olamide byM.anifest
Shot entirely in black-and-white, the visuals validate the incredible directorial skills of Cross Thekiso. The angles of shots- close up and panoramic scenes of Tema and Jamestown- as well as capturing the everyday activities of ordinary people living within the radius of the location offered a glimpse into both the beauty and chaos of the communities.
M.anifest: Hearts and Time will be screening in South Africa at the Cherry Film Festival later in November.
What M.anifest and Makere Cross Thekiso are going to do with the footages is not readily known. Will it ever be put out as a short film? Are they going to put it online for all to watch? Or they would stay in the vault of director Cross? Time, like the saying goes, would dictate.