Q&A with Michael Tanji aka BLACKOUT - Director // Cinematographer // Editor
Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us! First thing's first--
How'd you get the nickname-- BLACKOUT?
I was interning at a local production company called Liquid Planet Studios. At the end of the day, I was told to turn off the studio lights and close up. The switch happened to be in a dark hallway and I wasn't exactly sure where it was. I had my hand on a switch and knew something didn't feel right so I called out-- "Hey, are you sure this is the switch?" Someone yelled back, "Yeahh, it's at the end of the hall!" I said, "Okayyy!" and flicked it off. It happened to be the breaker for the entire building. All of a sudden, Kim Seko started yelling to everyone in the office, "There's a blackout, there's a blackout!" And I've been called BLACKOUT ever since.
What inspired this project?
When we first pitched the concept, we were given a small specific list of criteria from the artist that this video had to feature in some way. 1. A Love Story, 2. Surfing, 3. Big Ass Waves. From there, we really ran with it creatively. As we started listening to the song more, we felt this love story was also kind of a tragedy. That this love was never reciprocated and there was this longing to have someone that would not or could not be with you. So, we wanted to make this Siren also represent the Goddess of the ocean.
What was your creative/visual goal for this music video?
We wanted to make this video feel like it takes place out of time with a very ethereal vibe. It was really important to us to create this world in which the story inhabits.
How did you use Sight & Sound Studio's gear to achieve this look?
I was confident that our camera package would capture the best representation of how I saw the video visually. It was really about shooting at the right time of day and shifting my white balance to taste.
How did you achieve the look in the studio? Highlighter & blacklights?
In the studio, a bunch of Kino Flo's were outfitted with black lights as the main light sources. We had a killer team of make-up artists that I had a lot of conversations with in prep to achieve the look for our talent. I even found myself shopping in a cosmetics store with them! After that, I really let them run with it and I think the final product really shows the talent that those ladies possess. Also there were a lot of in-camera tricks that we did on set to complete the look. I try to dial it in as much as I can in-camera and leave less to post.
Anything you want to say about local Hawaii production? Where do you think it's heading?
I think we're in a really exciting time for local Hawaii Production. Not only is the technology/gear more accessible but people are taking more creative risks. There's a lot of filmmakers out there creating great work which I think is only going to help push the creative and level of productions forward here in Hawaii.
Any projects coming up in the near future?
I do have another music video we're finishing up in post right now. But, I have a few potential short films coming up later this year that I'm collaborating with some talented directors which I'm really excited about.
I always appreciate Sight & Sound's support on the projects I've worked on! They've been really key in helping make some of them happen.