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Category/ Case Studies

Q&A: Cinematographer Pablo Rojo on Short Film Black Corporeal (Between This Air)

Friday 18th June 2021
Black Corporeal (Between This Air)

Black Corporeal (Between This Air) is a critical examination on the relationship between materiality, and the black psyche. Exploring the idea that our ability to breathe - an act that is continuously challenged by everything from air pollution, stress and anxiety and societal prejudice - is more than our lungs ability to take in air, but a reflection of the way we live individually and together. Black Corporeal (Between This Air) engages with both the physical and metaphysical aspects of breathing and asks if we can reposition ourself through the extrinsic, the creation of black structures and realities that allow us to breathe, freely.

Procam Take 2 proudly supported the short film, written and directed by Julianknxx, and commissioned by WePresent. Cinematographer Pablo Rojo speaks here about his equipment choices and experiences creating the stunning look of the film.

Black Corporeal (Between This Air)

Hi Pablo, please could you give us a little background on how you came to be involved with Julianknxx and the Black Corporeal project? Have you worked together previously?

I met Julianknxx about a year ago when he was looking for a cinematographer to shoot some additional material for his multi-screen video art piece ‘In Praise Of Still Boys’ which will be presented at 180 The Strand later this summer. Since then we have been collaborating on a number of creative and multi disciplinary projects from video art pieces to music videos for artist such as Anaiis and Joel Culpepper.

What was your thought process when deciding on the visual style for this project?

Julian is a poet first and foremost and his texts are the starting point of most of his projects and from then on it’s a search for ideas, images and references that feel right for the work.

The main thing was that we wanted to create memorable and emotional images that felt both physical and spiritual.

My job was to make sense of all the information exchanged and come up with a visual identity that we both were happy with. Working with Julian is an extremely fluid and collaborative process so things kept changing all the way to the end.

Black Corporeal (Between This Air)

Which camera and lenses did you select to achieve the desired look, and why?

We went for the RED Epic-M as we wanted the resolution and I felt that the RED look would be right. Same goes for the Cooke S4 which I tend to use when I am after a soft, warm look.

How did you approach lighting the project?

For the scenes at the Barbican’s Conservatory we aimed to create some more epic and ethereal moments, while also playing with afro futuristic elements. We used a combination of a lot of smoke, strong back lights, and a bit of colour in order to achieve this. 

For the flat scenes, we went for a more gentle and intimate feel which I got through soft and warm lighting. Getting deep and textured skin tones was very important and something we managed also thanks to the brilliant grade by Jonny Tully from Tag Collective Arts.

Black Corporeal (Between This Air)

What would you say were the main challenges while filming, and how did you overcome these?

As most small productions shooting in the last year we had to deal with a lot of uncertainty, budget limitations and extra costs due to the changing scenarios. We only shot for two days and were fortunate enough to not have major issues.

Finally, how was your experience working with Procam Take 2?

Procam Take 2 and in particular John Brennan have been extremely supportive of me and of meaningful projects like this. Without their backing we would not have been able to realised the ambition of the Black Corporeal, so a huge thanks!

The full gallery version of Black Corporeal (Between This Air) is exhibited throughout June 2021 at Sadie Coles HQ in London and from 3 June to 28 November 2021 in the Contra La Raza [Against Race] exhibition at Matadero Madrid.

angenieux, Leitz, Blackmagicdesign, Sony, ARRI, Canon, ZEISS, Panasonic, SIGMA, Cooke, RED

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