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The Directors: Kino

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Octopus Inc director on the power of visuals, working with Jaguar and focussing on the writing

The Directors: Kino

Kino is a London-based director/DP and published fashion photographer. He draws from an oversaturated colour palette of visual inspiration and knowledge, blending techniques across stills and moving image, and combining his eye for creating striking scenes, with a deep understanding of performance.

His work is informed by an intricate knowledge of the creative industry from all angles, beginning his photography career shooting backstage at London and Paris Fashion Weeks, and uses the camera as a tool to reveal artistically bold imagery. His photography has been featured in Vogue Italia, Contributor Magazine, & British Vogue, and he has created ads for Range Rover, Jaguar, Russell and Bromley, Fender & BBC.


LBB> You’re a photographer and a director/dp who has made content for big brands such as Range Rover, Vogue Italia, BBC as well as music videos. Tell us more about Kino and what makes you tick.

Kino> Well, that's a very good question. As a storyteller, I find great joy in the creative process. From concept to pre-production to bringing a commercial, music video, or  film to life!

My passion lies in the power of visuals to evoke emotions and transport the audience to a different realm. I love  the challenge of crafting striking imagery and exploring diverse perspectives in my storytelling. This is what drives me. That’s what makes me tick.


LBB> What type of work are you most passionate about - is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to?

Kino> I'm very passionate about creating commercial work. Back in the old days, I used to sell marketing over the phone and I still have that sales mentality when it comes to directing and photographing branded work.

I know it sounds strange but I honestly love the advertising sector and creating a world for the brands I love.

It’s all about telling the brand’s story and changing the consumers perception of what they thought the brand was.

All creative concepts can be thrilling whether it’s out of home, photography or a TVC, it’s what you make of it.

I’m a huge fan of the thriller genre, especially Neo-Noir. I’m a DOP as well as a director/photographer so I’m intrigued by the use of lighting. Neo-Noir normally means the lighting will have a very saturated palette with each colour meaning something significant whilst setting the mood.

You can definitely see the Neo-Noir reference in my recent Jaguar shoot where the lighting tells the story.


LBB> If the script is for a brand that you're not familiar with/ don’t have a big affinity with or a market you're new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand that strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it?

Kino> It’s important to approach it quite strategically. I like working directly with the marketing director and understanding the overall brand story, their brand guidelines and what customers they're trying to reach.

By understanding their brand guidelines, I learn more about the tone of the brand and how they communicate with their consumer. Do they use humour? Is this done in a cerebral way or is it through specific wording and visuals? How do they use colour? What format works best for them? Is social media a better platform than TVC’s? It’s all a learning process.


LBB> For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?

Kino> When I was working on the Land Rover Range Rover shoot with creative director Dan Smith over at Accenture Song, he wanted a very eerie vibe to the films which featured a set of twins. In order to create this scene, I slowed the camera down to 30 frames per second, which gives an ethereal movement to the character.

I worked alongside the steadicam operator, to create an eerie vibe which worked really well! It all feeds back to my thriller passion.

Knowing what the creative director really wants and the feeling he wants the audience to have helped me create a better campaign overall.


LBB> You recently signed with Octopus Inc who produced your Range Rover film, how did that relationship come about?

Kino> After a lengthy search, I found Octopus and I saw that they represented a lot of really interesting directors and photographers that I admired like Miles Aldridge. I had always liked his work because he uses a lot of continuous lighting in his photography like me. It felt like a natural fit so I asked to meet them. I really like working with Claire, Beth and Nicola. They are really great at giving me advice and helping me produce content whereas before I used to take on the production myself! They are all super experienced. And that's exactly what I need. I find if you have that level of support you’re not worrying about timings and deliverables because it can stifle the work and dilute the creative.

I'm very fortunate to be working with them. I'm very excited about the future as well.


LBB> Your photography/creative direction has a very specific look and feel. How are you influenced and how important is casting/ set design/location to you?

Kino> When it comes to casting, set design and location, again, it all comes down to the sort of feel that you want the audience to have and the mood you're trying to create for the story.

I tend to choose models and talent that have a very specific look to them whether it's something striking about their face or jaw line or even the eye colour and hair. On my most recent Jaguar shoot, on the fly I chose a model because she had really striking red hair and I felt it would be a good visual for the campaign aptly named 'Stealth'. There we were in the Isle of Wight in the middle of the night, the model with this flowing red hair and red outfit, standing in darkness, looking at the car, while the car slowly turned on its headlights, and then she’s illuminated. It’s quite hypnotic.

The location of the Isle of Wight became like another character because of the wind, the mountains, the sea and the sheer isolation of it. I like the environment as being a 'character’.


LBB> What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?

Kino> I was a creative lead at a brand and we had a shoot in partnership with 3 mobile with a limited budget. It was for a protector screen that had a mirrored finish.

We had to shoot in the studio and set up eight different set builds in a tiny 500 sq ft studio. I was working with a set designer Maria Dagher, the movi operator Stephan Knight and a gaffer Milo B Cosemans. We had to measure the entire studio and Maria brought in flats that had a different set design on each one.

I decided to create a consistent lighting plan throughout with an overhead light diffusion. We had silk 12x12 at the top of the studio and flashlights from above so they illuminated the whole studio. Every time we were changing flats, all we needed to do was bring in another sky panel or change the light interior with different lamps etc but the base lighting made it consistent.

When you watch the video you think you’re in different locations, but actually it's a tiny 500 sq ft studio with 40 crew members and we only had eight hours to get everything done!


LBB> Your work is now presented in so many different formats - to what extent do you keep each in mind while you're working (and, equally, to what degree is it possible to do so)?

Kino> That is probably one of the most difficult parts. When it comes to photography, if I know it's for email marketing, 9x16, 1x1, 3x4 formats, I try to shoot wide because I know it will cover all bases. I try to make sure the action is happening in the centre of the image. When you think like that, once the image is cropped in different dimensions by art directors, graphic designers, you know it is going to work with every single format.

With video, even though at times you may need to flip it vertically to shoot 9x16, I try to convince the creative director or marketing team to shoot in 16x9 and keep all the action in the middle, then I can put frame guides on because we don’t want to sacrifice not having this in the future. You might need a 16x9 for YouTube or an email campaign. I may also shoot with an AK camera so when we have the 9x16 video we have a lot of resolution. You can also take a still with an AK camera. So it’s definitely worth doing! It's all about organising yourself and thinking ahead.


LBB> Tell us about your collaboration with Nikon, Waterbear Network & Build Change in the Philippines.


Kino> I am Nikon’s European ambassador so I have represented the brand since April last year. They were very generous and sent me a Z9 Nikon  and a couple of S series  lenses for me to have and use for my professional work. Julian Harvie the marketing director at Nikon approached me about a gig in the Philippines that Waterbear Network was going to produce involving a charity called ‘Build Change’. They wanted me to go over and shoot the charity and the people they’ve helped. Build Change builds homes for families due to a typhoon or natural disaster. During this time, I took shots of three families, their homes and how they utilise the space.

It was a really wonderful experience to do that kind of social documentary work. I told them I had a very specific style where I work with a saturated palette and play with different contrasts and shadows and they were very keen on that approach. I feel that the images certainly reflect this.

They really liked the work and I really liked the work. They eventually printed 12 shots and presented it at the Averted Disaster Awards. It was a huge success and Nikon will continue to exhibit in certain parts of the world. I’m not sure if this story is complete but I’d love to share a full exhibition of some of the 125 images somewhere down the line.


LBB> Which pieces of work do you feel really show off what you do best – and why?

Kino> I would say the Fender video for sure. I was all over the lighting design, direction and photography. I also incorporated some of my photographs into the video from the way we cut it. It really highlights my overall creative flare and shows where my influences come from.

The Range Rover shoot with Accenture Song that I directed and Dp’ed would be another one. It showed how I really want to take ownership and DP my own work especially as I come from a photography background. I’m really interested in lighting, how different lenses can tell different stories and how I like to stylise things.

The PhotoVogue series t because I like shooting with long lenses, 12-24 lenses.

The recent Jaguar shoot is a combination of taking stills and then shooting something on video that’s very close to the still but keeping the vibe, tone and mood. I took nine stills and nine vignettes creating a certain moodinessI really tested the possibilities of the camera and the video camera as it was very harsh and dark conditions but recreated the mood I was going for. It felt very Film Noir/ 80s vibe. Hopefully you get a sense of what I was trying to do.


LBB> What’s next for Kino?

Kino> I have a Russell & Bromley shoot coming out as well as Jaguar shortly.

I’ve shot kids, cars, fashion basically everything that’s thrown at me.

I’d like to focus on my writing too. I’ve written two features. My short film 'Wearing Thin', a psychological thriller, is doing very well on the awards circuit so I'm interested to see where that goes.

I’d like to do a bit more narrative work with a bit more emphasis on mood and the thriller side of things. So watch out!

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Octopus Inc, Fri, 03 Feb 2023 10:24:12 GMT