Artistic Music Film Series 'Past Hope Now' A Lesson in Conceptual Video for Photographers

When I first watched "Past" part one in a three part art film series, I got goosebumps. Actor and movement-specialist Anthony Nikolchev and co-choreographer Gema Galiana directed and performed in these beautiful and moving short films. The films are very evocative, and made me see a clear connection and bridge between conceptual photography and video. 

I want to start sharing more art films on Fstoppers because as photographers there's so much we can learn about light and emotion from video that can easily translate into stronger images for your portfolio. Plus, I love when photographers "discover" video, so I hope in sharing this it makes you curious to switch that mode dial to video. Come to the dark side. Upload your short films to your profiles and share them with us!

Anthony Nikolchev, Gema Galiana, Jakub Klawikowski, and a group of their Wonder Valley local actors enjoying the dailies.

...A couple's fight to survive in the chaos of the desert - a physical, mental, and natural struggle.

"Past Hope Now" is described by Nikolchev as a "music film" which was inspired by the music of John Isaac Watters. The team also flew in Polish cinematographer Jakub Klawikowski, who usually shoots more action and adventure Red Bull videos. The films were shot on the Sony FS700 with an external recorder Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q+, and coupled with many different Zeiss lenses. Sliders, a handheld rig, and tripods were used through out the filming, but what really helps set these music films a part was the use of the DJI Ronin.

In "Hope," at around the 1:00 mark, I was so into the story that I had to rewind to make sure what I just saw. All one shot, medium on the girl, slow pull out to wide of the entire exterior home. With the help of the DJI Ronin, shots like these are possible. Immediately following this long shot, quick juxtaposed cuts let you inside her brain; to me this is a close way to show how memories work in your mind. The editing, cut together in Premiere Pro and colored in DaVinci Resolve, is spot on. 

And can we just talk about sound design for a second? Because if you're a photographer and are just getting into shooting film, you need to really study "Past Hope Now" because this is exactly how you should try and do sound design. It was the first thing I noticed when I watched the films. Even in the last shot of "Now" the girl is unlocking the door and walks in, all of those sounds help you connect and really let yourself into the suspension of disbelief. I'm telling you right now, sound design is one of, if not the most important thing when it comes to editing and finalizing your film. Do not skimp on it! 

It's even more important when you're filming a music video (for what I hope are obvious reasons). Even more so when you have a film that doesn't really have words, per se. Nikolchev said, "It is a story, but there are no words. It's about love and loss and the destructive beauty of the desert. I am asking people to watch with a willingness to listen to the unsaid." Just as in photography, we don't always have words to fall back on to help our idea and story come across to the audience. This is where film has a leg up. Great sound design tremendously helps, while shitty sound can ruin. Take my word for it, and don't watch my senior thesis film. It was screened at two festivals, but I'll always have that nightmare of a project as a warning. 

Jakub Klawikowski with his Sony FS700.

Overall, watching these films has sparked inspiration for me, and I've written down rough music film ideas to flesh out. Perhaps you can also find a local musician and shoot a music video with them to test out your filming chops. Be sure to have a good tripod or gimbal, stabilization goes a long way (and you can always add a more steady "headheld" look in post). Can you visualize your photoshoots coming to life with the use of video? Maybe even revisit some of your favorite photos and turn them into a short film. What are some of your favorite art films? Feel free to share in the comments below. 

Chelsey Rogers's picture

Chelsey Rogers is a commercial video editor. She's done work for Walmart, Hallmark, and many other Fortune 500 companies.

Log in or register to post comments

Great post! Btw your Squarespace account expired!

haha! Thank you! I keep forgetting to get that back up!! Will do it later today :D


Very good this post. I am a wedding photographer and product market to create my videos.

Well, I want to share a video that I really like is "Medicine - A Dance Movie" by Carlos and Marcus published in the vimeo.