‘Twas winter 2018 and my friend and creative collaborator Baye Harrell came to me with an idea (over the phone because he was living in LA). It was actual several ideas, for a music video associated with a new solo music project through his new moniker, “Uncle Baye” – also known as “Straightforward”. We (My company) were busy with quite a few projects and so I tried to limit the scope of work on the project and I especially needed a light post-production if I were to engage him on the project. He wanted to do several music videos for the new project and hit me up among a few other digital creatives to assist. I discouraged him from having me do an intense motion-graphics video and he came up with a compromise… still using green screen… which ended up being a lot of post-production work.

The idea was modeled after the typical night talk show, say like the “Late Night, with Jimmy Fallon”. He’d be using images related to the lyrics, mounted to foam-core and flipping those around for “the audience” to see (like Fallon and others do) and then we’d push in to a closeup. Sounded easy, but it was weeks of “post-production hell” covering the hands (because of a narrow green screen) and adding some layering of other elements.

He and a creative colleague came to my office on 18th street in the spring of 2019 to do the project. We were in a “shared office space” like We Work so we not only had a small private office, we had access to conference rooms and other spaces. We decided to do the project in the conference room nearest my office that housed the equipment. This made production a snap: no travel and no space rental. They came in and began covering a desk with a wood laminate to make the desk look more traditional. We used a large pop-up green-screen I had purchased a year earlier, yet it barely covered all of his actions. That made post-production a “rotoscoping nightmare” at times. The closeups helped cover that, but the truth is, I’ve never been great with my green-screen work, in my opinion. I’m always looking to just put on a keying filter and just start compositing. Never happened that easily before and this time was no different. It seems to take me some time to work an appropriate key, no matter how well I think I lit the screen and talent.

The last and only other music video I did with Baye was when he was in the group, Hueman Prophets and we did a similar approach, with green-screen and a concept based on Television Workshop (Sesame Street). However we had a more intricate production (meaning an intense pre-production) with multiple locations and an anticipated month long post-production plan. It took more than a month. It was one of the hardest projects I’ve ever done, with little experience in compositing. I painfully learned a lot, skills and techniques I use to this day. But it nearly took me out of the business because of the level of work needed to compete it and the budget was extremely low. But the way I get obsessed and work on these kind of creative projects is a blessing and a curse. I tried my best to distance myself from the experience but it was almost more work that I could handle especially with growing overhead and other financial difficulties at the time.

But here we were again, like in 2007 and I was trying to muster up enough “internal creative joy” to pull through and make it happen. In the middle of doing post-production, I posted a minute of the video on Instagram for folks to see what I was up to. I get a call from Baye who had gotten upset that I posted that clip of the project. One for which I wasn’t getting paid for.

It made me flash back to 2007 when I put in at least enough hours on the music video to make my hourly earnings less than minimum wage. Right after I competed that video I had planned on shutting down my business and getting a job. Things quickly changed (a few clients and friends wrote checks) and I stuck around. The phone call made me feel like hired help… and I didn’t receive any money. I saw things quite differently about this work and pulled back from Baye. At that time, Baye was one of my favorite folks on earth. Still is. I think it just rubbed me the wrong way and I had been struggling financially and creatively at that time. I finished the video and stopped communicating with him for the most part.

While I seem to position this aspect as the most important factor as to why I kinda pulled away from Baye, there was more to it. And this isn’t anything remotely negative. I had been dealing with a ton of stress and other issues of the mind/reality heavily around that time. It was Baye and his partner’s insight into some things about myself that had led me to some profound understandings of what this “life-thing” is all about. I think this insight has been closely related to the way I have handled our communications, and with that, I am grateful. I owe him a tremendous amount of credit for the direction I’m heading.

I’m hoping that we’ll soon reconnect and get working on creative projects and resume our close friendship. Back in the day, when Baye lived in DC, he’d come by the studio where I had been burning the midnight-oil just to kick it. We had some epic unrecorded freestyle sessions, conceptual ideations of stories and conversations that spanned politics to Hip-Hop. Partnering creatively and being friends isn’t easy and there will be stumbles especially with hardcore creatives.

Written by:

Comments are closed.