Director Makere Thekiso recently shot the music video for Ghanaian rapper, M.anifest’s latest song, ‘Simple Love’.
“‘Simple Love’ came about when Coca-Cola Ghana brought me out to direct a music video for Coke Studios in Accra. I decided to do something for M.anifest on my off day because Ghana is magic when it comes to locations, fashion, people, culture and stories; it has everything you need as a director. I was yearning to do a project that gave me total freedom and the space to make mistakes and grow as a director,” comments Thekiso.
Thekiso describes the video as a short film that seeks to highlight the beauty of Accra’s buzzing seashore, through the journey and movement of a young ballerina named Angelika Kankam. In the video, the young woman travels through the busy fishing market, lost in dance amidst the chaos around her. In her journey to find her “simple love”, she interacts with various characters along the way until she meets and falls in love with a captivating young man, played by M.anifest. However, their moment does not last with the young dancer drifting away to a new phase in her life where she can be seen grieving the love that she has lost, and trying to find her rhythm again.
“It is about one searching for love in a very chaotic world and finding it then being overwhelmed by it. The song and my personal experience were the driving force behind the creative. It was one of the lowest points in my career, where nothing was working, and I had just come off the biggest project of my career, but doors were still closed. I had not directed anything in over a year. I was also dealing with a lot of things in my personal life, good and bad, and the song spoke to me,” shares Thekiso.
Thekiso says that M.anifest allowed him to choose any song from the Nowhere Cool album to shoot the video for, but he found himself resonating deeply with the ‘Simple Love’ interlude: “It is not even a full song but an interlude. The song is so bare (that) it allowed us to play around in terms of scoring; Chad Alexander did an amazing job scoring it. He gave the song a new life,” says Thekiso.
In the short film, Thekiso decided to showcase the Tema Fish Market with its real people performing routine tasks in their everyday lives. The young ballet student who plays the lead character, alongside M.anifest, was the only role in the video that was cast. “She was worried that her moves were not perfect and I told her we are not making a perfect visual piece but an honest piece. I wanted all the flaws to come out. When you listen to the song, M.anifest makes a mistake halfway through the interlude that he did not fix in post or in studio, and that flaw inspired the piece,” shares Thekiso.
In the six-minute short film M.anifest is only seen for 30 seconds, the rest of the video is made up of the dancer’s journey. “I thought using a ballerina in that fish market backdrop would create an amazing juxtaposition, rough and soft; it is a major contrast of dancer and location. Love is a universal language spoken by everyone,” Thekiso shares.
‘Simple Love’ is inspired by indie-style filmmaking and was shot using the Sony FS7 camera. Thekiso expands: “We did our first take on 120 frames per second but it was too slow and too long, the take was 11 minutes long. We then moved it to 75 frames per second and then the film was six minutes long. The camera was hand-held, so we depended a lot on the slomo to stabilise it. Motheo Moeng did a great job. It was all natural light we did not even have a bounce board. We shot it flat so that we could play around in grade.”
The scoring by Chad Alexander took nine months and nine versions to reach the desired result. The music was then sent to New York for mastering and final mix.
‘Simple Love’ has travelled across the continent reaching audiences in Ghana, Nigeria, East Africa and South Africa. The film has also received favourable reviews from Okay Africa, Tidal, BBC and on Between 10 and 5.
‘Simple Love’ has been showcased at various public screenings in Ghana. The film was also part of the Redbull Amaphiko Film Festival in Johannesburg last year. Thekiso says he plans to submit the short film to other short film festivals. “The concept is an African love story using music, dance and the beautiful people of Tema in Accra to tell the story. This short film was a labour of love. It is the most personal visual piece I have ever directed,” Thekiso concludes.
TECH CHECK: Equipment
- Camera: Sony FS7
- Director: Makere Thekiso
- Producer: Callback Dreams / Afro district
- Executive Producer: Jobie Bakama, Makere Thekiso and SingItDamnit Music
- DOP: Motheo Moeng
- Editor: Kayode Raji
- Grade: Gideon Breytenbach
- Music Score: Chad Alexander