Laurence’s “Set me Free” Experience

Over the last couple of days of October, we’ve been all go here at Awake, shooting the music video for Pragathi’s “Set me free”. It’s a beautiful song (one I personally can’t wait for you all to hear), and it was important to us that we were able to match it with similarly beautiful and compelling visuals. And you know what they say – for good visuals, you need a vision-ary*.

*People might not actually say this.

Enter Sumeet Khanwani, recently flown over to our Johannesburg office and raring to go. We’d previously worked with Sumeet on the music video for Rushil’s “Coming Of Angels” – which you’ll also be able to check out soon!– and it’s wonderful to have him back on board with the Awake movement once again, this time in a full-time role as in-house director/editor. Barely a week on the ground, Sumeet was ready to roll, having completely revamped the story line for the piece.

So, what’s the video?

Well, I’ll see what I can say, while trying my best to avoid spoilers. A song called “Set Me Free” has one fairly obvious theme right from the start, freedom. But how could we talk about such a broad topic in a compelling and relate-able way? We’re a youth network after all, and our priorities are always focused around that audience.

Our story follows a young girl, struggling with the pressure of a school system that doesn’t suit her and a mother who doesn’t fully understand her, trying her best to succeed as an authentic version of herself. Too often people feel obliged to change themselves, conform to the ideals of the society around them in order to succeed. It’s isolating. It erodes identity. And it can often choke creativity. It’s a common issue, one that education systems can often inadvertently perpetuate, and one we wanted to acknowledge.

As I said, I’m not going to give too much away, but this video isn’t all doom and gloom. There is a happy ending. There is hope, and the character thrives by staying her resilient self in the face of the pressures around her.

In general, this shoot was a whole lot of fun to work on, with a wild mix of scenes and liberal use of smoke machines. Everything from family arguments, to basketball games and art gallery exhibition launches. We were very lucky to have a team of very professional young extras working with us, with unfaltering enthusiasm throughout the long working days. While Sumeet might be new to South Africa, he’s very at home on set, and also has a long-standing history with our Director of Photography, Saket Kath. The two fell back into sync instantaneously as a two-man dream team.

That’s our last large-scale video for 2019 taken care of, but we’re already looking ahead to 2020 and the even more ambitious projects we plan to sink our teeth into then.

Personally, I’ve really enjoyed the time working out on set. I’ve a background working with television studios, so was just doing my part to pitch in with some of the set design and equipment. I’m always a fan of variety and the two days out and about was a nice respite from my usual day-to-day in the Awake offices. My main work at the moment revolves around a short documentary series I’m writing and producing on the UN’s efforts to eradicate poverty. It’s a really interesting topic, with lots of tangential areas such as climate, conflict resolution and international cohesion making up the overall picture. We’re creating this content for launch at the Youth Sustainable Development Goals Summit in Ghana at the end of the month and you should be able to catch my videos on the site from then on.

I feel like poverty is something everyone’s aware of but few take the time to fully read up on. I certainly hadn’t done my due diligence until this series came along – anything slightly economical always kind of put me off. But, I was kidding myself, now I’ve read up a bit, met some of the experts in the field and taken a look outside the stereotyping box on poverty, I’ve begun to see just how much nuance is entailed, how many intertwining factors spiderweb across our society and impact people’s lives with economic hardship. The problems run deep, but there are solutions – if you have the chance anytime in the next couple of months, maybe take five minutes to watch one of my episodes and see if I can’t share anything useful with you.

Over and out.

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