Joshua Kissi :  What started as a casual joke has now come to fruition.  You may remember Jesse Boykins III, an independent artist and good friend of mine, from our last musically-influenced editorial Sartorial Sounds.  A song featured on his latest EP inspired me a great deal:  potent lyrics dipped in substance and awareness, accompanied by a cinematic instrumental. I knew I wanted to add visuals to the song, and was excited at the prospect of shooting and directing the video.  As this task was not without its challenges, I decided to write about my experience making this project come to light.

‘Light to Dark’- The song resonated with me, both its abstract definition of “Light to Dark” and its lyrics:  a testament to global socio-political events and ethical dilemmas. As a fan of music and art, I appreciate that this song is saying something that needs to be heard instead of beating the same drum and coming up with the same message. I asked Jesse how he would describe this song and he said it was his interpretation of what John Lennon’s “Imagine” would sound like if he grew up in our environment, time and culture.  Reimagining such an iconic song sounds daunting, but justified nonetheless.

The process – Once the first day of shooting started and finished, I quickly realized that maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew. The preparation and thought process required to prepare a full treatment and capture the shots I had in mind visually was anything but easy. We spent 3 days scouring the city for the best shots – our illustrious budget meant relying on local thai food, pizza and all the other low budget food NYC has to offer.  Even when luck wasn’t on our side we made do with the day light we had available available to capture the essence of ‘Light to Dark’ in time.

The result - What I found interesting was that despite preparing 100% for a shot, we would sometimes get unintended results.  I learned an important lesson about planning but leaving room for growth and creativity.  I’m not saying all of this from my comfortable directors chair with “Spielberg” etched on the back, I’m just saying that if you are inspired to do something, embark on it and you may never know where that path will lead you

Hope you guys enjoy the video as much as I did shooting and directing it.


*Special Thanks to Sam Sneed of We Are Not Pilgrims, Ali of A noble Savage, Cleon Grey and Jesse Boykins III for providing the opportunity for such a collaborative project.

Photos by Cleon Grey