"Safety Blanket" a PseudoDoc/Music Video

Let me start by providing some context: the impetus for this project was actually an idea to shoot a music video documenting my wife’s regular public transit commute. Recently she was approached by a transient neighbor of hours, and after he made an inappropriate gesture, she —understandably— was beyond creeped out and called the police who, thankfully, arrived promptly and escorted the man away.

Her experience made me acknowledge my own naivete; I also take public transit, but as a six-foot-three black man, there are things I don’t have to think about. I’m less likely to be approached or assaulted. So, the idea was to tell a story with footage of her commute set to music. However, after recording a conversation with her, I realized that the audio from my “interview” would fit well into the piece. The resulting pseudo-documentary-music video, called “Safety Blanket,” features actual footage from a typical commute on the Los Angeles Metro Gold Line and #83 bus. The piece juxtaposes two experiences of nighttime travel.



  • The footage was shot first. It is an actual commute. I shot in 24fps and 60fps.

  • Shot on 18-35mm Sigma Art Lens. Wider lens = objectivity
    (no extreme closeups to force the viewer’s gaze)

  • The interview was recorded afterward, the most pertinent sound bites were chosen, and then the footage was laid on top.

  • The music chosen was a joint decision and, as expressed by the lyrics and tonality, was intended to reinforce the tone of the overall experience.

  • The aural nature of story is highlighted by the use of black screen.

  • The filmic conventions traditionally used to express memory (film grain, light leaks, slow motion, etc.) are employed with the goal of reiterating that this is a reconstruction of a past event.

To be honest, I recently purchased a new camera, and this project was a chance to break it in. While in the field, there were times when I fumbled about trying to figure out various functions. And it reminded me of Margaret Mead, some of the early documentation of “ethnographic” material, and how the technical aptitude —or ineptitude—of the ethnographer affects the resulting media captured of the ethnographic sample. (Think of Flaherty’s Nanook of the North). But, to take it a step further, we can say that the ideologies, “creativity,” and goals of the ethnographer/documentarian/storyteller also affect the resulting media.