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Mastering the Art of Visual Poetry with Iggy London


The London-based director on why the conventional rules of filmmaking are made to be broken

Mastering the Art of Visual Poetry with Iggy London

Studio RM, the creative studio specialising in colour grading and post production across film, print, and digital, is partnering with Little Black Book to sponsor The Directors channel. It’s a space for celebrating directors who create aesthetically beautiful and nuanced imagery, the creative potential of technology, and diving into the trends in contemporary culture which these visionary minds so often spark.

In this series, we’ll be highlighting directors who have a distinctive creative voice, and who are championing new and exciting visual styles through fashion, music, and culture. In this instalment, LBB’s April Summers sits down with Iggy London, who she discovers is a polymathic poet whose creative inspiration stems from a mutual love of spoken word and emotive visuals.

In his short films, Iggy captures the essence of different cultural and societal talking points, through a creative approach that masterfully articulates a startling sense of humanity, while tackling delicate subject matter head-on. In addition to this human-centered work, Iggy has also directed music promos and commercial spots for the likes of Harrods, Nike and Adidas. Here he talks about how spoken word has influenced his body of work, and how colour and grade ties into a film’s visual and emotional identity.

Name: Iggy London

Location: London, England 

Repped by: Iconoclast 

LBB> What were your influences growing up and how did they help shape your creative voice?

Iggy> Growing up, I was obsessed with American culture (weren’t we all). There was one particular show that I used to watch called Def Poetry Jam. It was this spoken word poetry television series hosted by Mos Def that was broadcast on HBO. Every show would have a selection of poets who performed spoken word and I fell in love with not only the poets’ cadence and flow, but also their content; it felt like a Sunday service of some sort. I grew up watching Daniel Beaty, Saul Williams and Black Ice perform on that stage and share words that felt transcendental for me. It was my key into visual poetry at the time, I just didn’t know it.

LBB> The style of a film changes brief by brief, but how would you underpin your general visual style? Are there certain factors that you could pinpoint as a signature for you?

Iggy> I try not to restrict the way I think about my visual style because it always ebbs and flows. I don’t want to become stagnant. I’ve always been influenced by the environment which surrounds me at the time - summer in New York, winter in Ghana - but if I had to pick a style which has been recurring over the years, it would be creating emotionally charged stories with a visual poetry. Transcendental in nature. These themes can be seen in Fatherhood, the short film I wrote and produced.  

As someone who never went to film school, I was excited about the idea of breaking conventions at the start of my career. I played around with different filmic styles but found myself interested in the feeling of the camera constantly moving in my work, it almost becoming a character itself. I guess this has always stayed with me.

LBB> How do you use things like colour and grade to accentuate your vision?

Iggy> It’s like a sliding scale. It changes as a result of other conditions. Choices like colour and grade are usually borne within the idea’s inception and steered by how I think people will feel about the film. I consider the film’s message and how best to communicate that visually. When creating Black Boys Don’t Cry I wanted the work to be super dark, while remaining centred around one specific colour: blue. I wanted to convey the connections we have with colour and how it is gendered. Then with Rite of Passage, I wanted to create a sense of escapism. Everything was colourful. It all comes down to what you want the audience to feel.

LBB> How important is the role of colour/grade in the overall look and feel of a film?

Iggy> I think it’s important. I always want to have a clear visual message – something that will let people connect to the world in which the characters live. During the creative process, I tend to want to change things – strip things down and build them back up again.

LBB> Which pieces of your work do you feel shows what you do best – and why?

Iggy> In my short film, Velvet, I was able to capture an aspect of human existence that can be mundane, but is always beautiful to watch. Velvet captured a certain essence that you can’t tear your eyes away from. 

LBB> What insights can you draw from contemporary culture that you feel are going to shape the future of film?

Iggy> Through the rise of social media and new developments in technology, I have learnt that rules are made to be broken. Conventional ideas that we’ve learned over the years can be challenged so we should always seek to challenge them. I’m quite excited about this prospect and I see it happening already. We are reflecting the times more and more in our work.

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Studio RM, Tue, 14 Jun 2022 15:01:00 GMT