Brandon Tauszik hails from the moors of northern England, where one can trace his roots back through many generations of noble serfs. Amidst adolescence his guardians smuggled him into the USA where he continued education and impressed schoolmates with his novel accent. After a mischievous incident at age 14, Brandon was arrested and legally required to perform many hours of community service. This labor was performed in the production department of a mega-church and wherefore taught Brandon the basics of audio, video, and lighting. At age 19 he began editing Arabic language videos in southern Spain. At age 22 he retired briefly before relocating to California to work as a videographer for Invisible Children, a media based non-profit organization. At 24 he co-founded Sprinkle Lab, a commercial video firm based out of a brick warehouse in the slums of West Oakland. Currently Brandon directs video projects by day while pursuing documentary photo projects by night.
Director: Brandon Tauszik
Song: Living Every Dream
How were you approached for the job?
I’ve directed music videos for a handful of rising hip hop acts here in the Bay Area. I actually directed a video for Antwon before "Living Every Dream" earlier this year. It was very well received and SPIN hailed it as “an early candidate for video of the year”. Henceforth, Antwon hit me up with a new unreleased track back in May and asked if I’d be interested in crafting the video for it.
What inspired you on your idea for the video?
Pictureplane produced the track, which cleverly samples a 1990 remix of Suzanne Vega’s hit "Tom’s Diner". It’s a house-tinged party banger that, when combined with Antwon’s playful lyrics, conjure up images from a Salt N Peppa or Chubb Rock music video.
Antwon’s inherent image not very contemporary; he stands out as someone doing his own thing. I figured we could get away with pretending Yo! MTV Raps still existed. Hip hop music was in a very different place back then, a better place if you ask me. Today we have semi-mythical characters like Jay Z and Kanye trampling on what once was a positive art form. I wanted to channel the energy and positivity of that era, to make people smile and think happy thoughts!
What was the budget?
Antwon is unsigned, so it was barely enough to get it all done. I had worked with New York streetwear brand Mishka in the past, so I reached out to them for a collection of their new 90s-inspired clothing. This helped provide a cohesive and period-accurate wardrobe for free. The choreographer and dancers were gracious enough to join on the cheap.
What were the limitations you faced with the production?
Shooting this down in Los Angeles was a necessity. The landmarks, radiant weather, and vibrant hip hop history of L.A. were a perfect match for the song. However, this brought up the production cost significantly as we had to rent cars, find accommodation, and scout locations beforehand on a separate trip. I also wanted to shoot at some high profile locations, such as the Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach, but I had no permits. We had to just show up to these spots with a group of 15 people and hope for the best!
Do you know how much a shooting permit is by the beach with a small crew? In Sydney it can differ from place to place. But local councils here are pretty flexible depending on your budget or needs.
Shooting video at Santa Monica Pier would have set me back $2,500 for a full day plus a $5,000 security deposit. There are discounts for official student and non-profit projects, but those didn't apply in my case. Guerilla was the only feasible option! Venice beach also has their standard day rates, but when we showed up the head of security found us and requested we pay him cash directly. My producer informed him this wasn't possible so he said that if "you don't go where I am, it's fine". He had a pack of big guys without uniforms rolling with him.
Who were your key collaborators?
Have you worked with them before?
I work with Jon Smith at Sprinkle Lab, the video firm we co-founded. We’re usually working together on a myriad of client work. I used to work with Marshall Bang at Invisible Children and I knew that he knew (nearly) everyone in Los Angeles.
What was your production process like?
I watched (and then re-watched) dozens of rap videos from the early nineties and took copious notes on everything from fashion, to camera techniques and colors. Then I listened to the song on repeat for a couple weeks while working or hiking, all the while emailing myself ideas and notes. After drafting a semi-solid treatment, I went down to L.A. to scout locations and get a feel for what it would be like shooting at various spots. Meanwhile the choreographer put together a dance routine and the dancers practiced. We shot everything over a weekend and then I had 3 weeks to edit it during my nights, weekends, and vacation.
What was the turnaround?
I was sent the track in May. We shot at the end of June and released the video at the end of July.
What did you shoot on? What lenses did you use?
I shot on a 5D mkIII, but ran the footage through a VCR and then re-digitized it.
For lenses, I used the following:
Where did you shoot it?
All the locations were permitless and in/around Los Angeles:
Los Globos Nightclub
Pacific Coast Highway (up near Malibu)
Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica Pier
Do you feel that the client understands the production process?
As I mentioned before, I’d worked with Antwon previously so he was familiar with my process. He’s not on a label yet, so I pretty much had complete creative freedom without restrictions from bigwigs. Antwon loved the treatment, but would let me know if he wasn’t into something during the shoot.
If you had a chance to approach it again, what would you do differently?
Honestly, I would have simply done more takes. It was tough shooting at places like Santa Monica Pier with a group of choreographed dancers and a huge boombox. The second we would start shooting a huge crowd of tourists would gather around and gawk and take pictures. I think they thought it was some kind of show. This helped get us kicked out! But yes, more takes in each location would have been ideal.