"U SHOOT VIDEOS?" Immediately hooked me with the first scene. Moji starts off alone in a room full of gear, praying for a good shoot as he preps. He then proceeds to walk down a narrow stairway holding three large cases and two backpacks. We can all relate to carrying the weight of the shoot literally on your shoulders while you try to open a door.
The story proceeds to follow Moji through the process of directing a low-budget music video for an independent artist. This is something that everyone in the industry can relate to in some respect. It's the kind of thing we all yearned to do very early in our careers, but once you actually take on the endeavor, you quickly become jaded.
My favorite scene unfolds during a game night, where Moji vents to family about a nightmare interview he has with a marketing agency. He wants to get hired to shoot commercials, but his entire reel is music videos. This is a sentiment I can relate to a lot. Up until a few years ago, my own reel was almost entirely based on music videos. I'm sure a lot of the young cinematographers out there have had the same problem. "I'm tired of being called a videographer. I'm a director, writer, cinematographer, craftsman, and an artist. I'm all of that," he tells his family. The desire to move to truly fulfill your purpose as a filmmaker is not lost on me. That's when his family lets him on a secret that could change his whole trajectory: spec work.
"You gotta shoot spec work to show potential clients the type of work you want to get hired to shoot. You have to show them your voice. Your style. Something unique." (Pause for reaction) "It's basically a proof of concept to show an idea or demonstrate a concept. Now, when you shoot work on spec, it's unpaid. But it's an investment in your career to create those new opportunities. You got equipment, right?" This is a lesson any creative who is struggling to make it needs to take to heart. You have to invest in yourself, or no one will take a shot on you. Moji vows to his family that he will stop taking on music video clients so he can focus on spec work and his future.
The story takes a dark turn after Moji reluctantly takes on one last music video client. But if I told you about that, it would give away the whole movie. I don't use the word movie lightly. “U SHOOT VIDEOS?” is technically a short, but comes in at 45 minutes. But it's definitely worth the time commitment, so I recommend watching it on a PC or laptop and not your cell phone. The cinematography is beautiful and deserves the larger screen. The film ends with an interview between Morgen and Moji, who gives us an in-person account of the dramatic end to the story.