London director Bafic creates visuals informed by the intensities of contemporary city life
South London-based filmmaker Bafic creates hypnotising visuals that are directly influenced by modern city life – from its intense, skittering pace to its charged political energy and isolating nature. Having created gritty music videos and stylish fashion shorts for clients such as Ace & Tate, Neneh Cherry, her daughter Mabel, Nikelab and Gucci, Bafic demonstrates his dexterous skill at manipulating various formats, working with technology to explore a spectrum of topics to compelling effect. The director is a visionary who’s part of a new wave of directors who have little regard for conventional formats, using DIY effects from handheld technologies to give his videos its grittiness.
The way that sound is deployed throughout his range of work enhances the static of his flickering, fast-paced visuals. A distinct example is his Me, Myself & I campaign video for Amsterdam eyewear brand Ace & Tate, which celebrates the talent and multiplicity of six creatives, with their voices and moving images masterfully edited to merge and overlap into another at breakneck speed.
Softening the fast-paced videos is his black-and-white stylistic approach, which can be seen on Mabel’s My Boy My Town and an iPhone-shot collage of short clips pieced together into one frenetic short for Gucci.
Though the pace of contemporary city life binds his work together, an isolating mood permeates his visuals, with intimate portraits moving out of focus, and muffled audio providing viewers with a sense of distance that’s dichotomously balanced with the closeness of his subjects. The filmmaker has previously said that his form of escapism is through his own mind; delve a little further into his videos, and this idea ties into how his work has an observational quality. Case in point: his 2016 video Processing I.C.A: Processing Procession explores the dystopian notion of an Orwellian society watched through CCTV cameras.
Below, we catch up with the director to discuss how city structures inform his work, ideas of observation and invisibility.
Read Crack Magazine’s list of 10 music video directors switching up the game. Work by these directors will be screened at the and& summit and festival’s A/V screening room, and Oscar Hudson will be in conversation with Crack Magazine at the event, discussing the art form and its future. Find out more about and& here.
Firstly, how did your work in film and visual art start?
I honestly think it started when I was in school and around the time bluetooth and infrared on phones was a thing. We were all sending each other music, funny videos, but also people were filming fights and happy slaps was a thing and we would just send them to each other. It sounds silly but yeah, I would stay in ICT class in lunch at Secondary school and me and my friends would make weird animations on Macromedia Flash.
When you were younger, what moving images can you remember connecting with?
Those old Nike football ads were moments; all of us in the playground acting out scenes from The Matrix running up on walls like we were Trinity, based off the trailer – hadn’t even seen the film. Goku making the spirit bomb, an old boss telling me about Baraka. then walking into HMV and buying it then and there for me and telling me to watch it. Anything Michael Jackson, Plato’s Atlantis – that McQueen show – Chris Milk’s video for Kanye West’s All Falls Down, Mark Romanek, Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
To what extent do you think London and city life has influenced your gaze as a director?
A location is a big thing for me; the city is intense, fast-paced, information is exchanged so quickly, there’s a back and forth with work made and work digested and back again. It’s a melting pot so things come from places and other countries, then mix with others: music, food, people, etc. It’s more the idea of a city. London is a big one for me because that’s where I’m based. But the idea – cities are so political.
In terms of music videos, how do you approach the process of creating something for someone else’s music?
It depends, I’m working more towards having an idea without the music and then mixing it. Before, I used to listen to the song hundreds of times but I think that can sometimes make videos too on the nose. So I’ll listen to it a few times and make notes then just start figuring things out. There’s no concrete process with writing, sometimes it’s based off a thought, sometimes it’s based off a lyric; it’s different every time.
Which videos inspired you as a young viewer?
The Chemical Brothers’ Galvanize, and Justice Stress. Those were moments.
To what extent does music inspire your work and what do you listen to while you create?
It depends what I’m working on. Different types of things bring up different types of imagery. For me, cities make think of Vangelis, Zomby; but music, yes, is a big part of it. Music and sound.
Which other London creatives and directors are you inspired by?
It’s mostly conversations I have with people, friends, family, random people waiting for a bus – that’s where all the sauce is. You gotta locate the sauce from the people and things around ya, and let that feed and inform you, and do that over and over again, repeating that process.
Not just London based but Matilda Finn, Joseph Bird, Frank Lebon, Oscar Hudson, Aoife McArdle, Luke Monaghan and Daniel Wolfe. There’s more that have slipped my mind.
You do a very good job of creating personal, intimate portraits of your subjects. Is there a specific method to this?
Depends on the situation. If you’re observing, it’s draping myself and camera in an invisibility cloak and if not, then just draping the camera with an invisibility cloak.