Recently I had the chance to attend the premier of the short film/ music video for the latest track “PSA”. The track is by Chi City artist Abstrak Mind featuring Megan McNeal on the vocals, produced by Moses Hall and Vince Foss. This a 5-8 min short, that packs a very very powerful message. I also got the chance to have an interview with creators behind this awesome production. Written and directed by Ashley Battle and Vivian Sinya, two talented young ladies, doin they thing & rockin out in the film industry. Here’s what they had to say…
**(A.B – Ashley Battle, V.S – Vivian Sinya, A.M – Abstrak Mind)
How did the idea of the collaboration come about?
A.B – I had an idea for a short film, but I also had plans in the works to do a music video with AM. When we were discussing ideas and try to come up with a good video I though.. “Hey! Let’s do a short film/ music video!.. You know, like how J.Cole- She Knows is.” I never wrote anything before, and AM introduced me to Vivian, and she told me she writes. And she has a show she could use my help on when they shoot. After that we talked about collaborating with AM and then it happened.
V.S. – AM actually introduced me to Ashley. He encouraged us to work together and when I met her we instantly clicked. Our passion for film was in synced and I felt like we had a lot to offer each other.
A.M. – The idea came about because you had three very dedicated individuals, who felt that their individual talents could be brought together and make something incredible. Ashley had been a supporter of me and my music for a while now. We have done a lot of work together in the past, and Ashley just wanted to step our game up a bit. She had an idea she had been sitting on and felt that her script idea would be fitting with my song PSA. She presented me with the idea of a short film/ video and I was all in. As an artist, I’ve always wanted my videos to be something that had story lines to them because that’s how music is written. The rest is history, we made a really good body of work on the first go round with a a very small to no budget. This is something I’m extremely proud of because we accomplished a lot, with little to work with.
What got you started?
A.B – I started out wanting to be a music video director because I’m a 90s kid, who would sit in front of the TV and watch MTV and BET and the makings of a music videos. I would think like.. “That is so cool!!”… I want to be like Dave Myers or Director X or a Benny Boom. But I also loved movies too! I really never seen myself making movies though. I used to want to act actually… I just never tell anyone that! But once I started to study film and get more involved I fell in love with how you can create something that feels like a reality, or make someone feel a certain way from something that’s not real.
V.S. – I originally wanted to be an actress when I was younger but then I realized that my efforts behind the camera would out weight my efforts in front of it!! Lol! So I start as a film major but shortly moved into TV at Columbia College.
Name a few writers, (authors, film makers) that inspire you and why?
A.B – I like Judd Apatow.. he’s a writer producer, and of course Spike Lee. I’m really digging all the black female writer that are finally getting shine, like Shonda Rimes and Mara Brock Akil. I’ve recently gained a lot of respect for Ava Duvernay as well for coming in the game and killing it. But my favorite director is Melina Matsoukas who is a music video director. I have so many people I look up to so thats hard for me to say and as I evolve that answer evolve because I’m still discovering people all the time.
V.S. – Issa Rae, Lena Dunham, Ava Duverney, Gina Prince-Bythwood, Queen Latifah, Quentin Taratino, Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock … just to name a few.
Tell us about one of your biggest accomplishments as a writer? Or most memorable moment.
A.B – PSA!!! It was the first thing I ever fully finished and put out… but oh!!… there will be more! For me, that was the first step to showing myself I can do this! I never really thought much about writing… just directing. I mean, I had ideas but nothing written.
V.S. – One of my biggest accomplishments was working as a post production assistant at Harpo Studios for the OWN Network.
What is something you want people to know about you, they may not know?
A.B – I actually work in television currently BTS as a production assistant and I recently just finished a job where I was a production coordinator for the opening NFL draft opening Video. I’ve worked on several national and web Commercials some that play everyday that you probably see on a regular. Like McDonalds, Walmart, Adidas, etc…. even one that aired during the super bowl. I don’t talk much about it on social media or to people that much because a lot of times we can’t post pictures until after the commercial airs and by that time it’s on to the next. But about 70 percent of my life is working on TV sets and 20 on personal projects. I hope to change that number around or hopefully be on the set of my own creation. But I’m proud of myself for coming this far because I remember being in film school seeing sets and wondering wow how do I get on that! And now that’s what I do for a check!
V.S. – hmmmmm . . . . . my last name is pronounced SIN- NIH- YA, Lol!!
What do you hate & what do you love about Chicago?
A.B – I hate the clicques and the how black people are stereotyped. But I love Chicago for the scenery and all the different people that live here even if its still segregated. When you get out and really explore Chicago it’s some great people, great places, restaurants and art. We have some of the best architecture, waterfront, and talent.
V.S. – I hate how segregated Chicago is, but I love how no matter how much you may know the city you can always find something new in the most unexpected ways.
What do you hope the audience gets from PSA?
A.B. – That it’s real life! Unlike most narratives you are supposed to get a conclusion. I feel like PSA doesn’t have one yet, because it was just a segment of a story and also a music video. But I wanted people to feel the realism and be able to connect with something similar. It was really for the black youth or person that understands the situation of the household depicted in PSA.
V.S. – I hope the audience feels “something”. As a director and writer that’s all I ever want in any project I work on. I want my work to provoke emotion and thought. What emotions and what thoughts are totally up to the audience.
A.M. – To me this story is something we see daily. Black men becoming products of their environments and making poor life choices starting at an early age. What I want people to take from this is to see the different angles that go into these choices and life styles. We judge without looking deeper and figuring out the root to these problems. We need to look inside these kids home, see who they hang around, what and who are they influenced by and try coming up with better solutions and providing better opportunities so they can make better life choices. There’s a lot of good kids out here making bad choices that end up ruining their lives.
Whats next for PSA? Will there be a Part 2?
A.B – What’s next for PSA is just getting people to watch it and hopefully enjoy it, and possibly a part two if we can work out everything. But for me it was just a snippet of a bigger story transformed into a music video.
V.S. – We want to push PSA as hard as we can. We would like to submit it to film festivals. We hope it could air on music channels as it is a music video as well as a film. As far as a part 2, that is something we have yet to discuss further on.
A.M. – To me the people dictate what’s next. We hope that those who watch this video/short film will spread the word about it. It will be submitted to different festivals and blogs. Ultimately I personally just want as many people as possible to see this project and hopefully they like it enough where there is a part two. I’m definitely open to doing a part 2 to PSA.
Vivian Sinya @VivianSinya IG@jillviv87
Visit my website www.Abstrakmind.com to see this film and more! Or simply type in Abstrak Mind “PSA – Abstrak Mind” on YouTube to watch
B Roc – Also check out my blog recap with Abstrak Mind
Abstrak Mind- 4 Chi City Radio Recap
Ashley Battle @ IG @Ashley_Battle
Ashley Battle web – Vimeo.com/abuiltdream
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