How We Made Charleston Okafor's Rama Rama Music Video
When I met Charleston Okafor from the local band Hybrid Shakedown, his cool demeanor and enthusiasm for his music were infectious. He asked to meet and discuss making a music video after seeing our Cleveland Boudoir video.
Over hot drinks at the Gypsy Bean cafe, Charleston told us about what inspired his song Rama Rama. In his travels he developed a crush on a woman of Indian descent. This song is about her, but Charleston gave us creative freedom to develop a story for the video any way we chose. We decided to tell a boy meets girl story. Originally we planned to show them meeting by chance in the park gradually over multiple days, but that would have required at least three changes of costume and too much additional time to shoot footage. So scheduling and budgetary constraints led us to simplify the story and perhaps make it a bit of a fantasy “love at first sight” situation. I knew Charleston was a fan of soccer and he had played in college, so that became his activity at the park. We shot at Lakewood park on a beautiful May morning for all of the external shots.
Charleston didn't want to make a video with girls twerking in bikinis and we agreed that there are better characteristics to honor in a woman, such as intelligence. The actress Andrea Richardson, is a friend who I immediately thought of when we were thinking about casting. She brought an impressive ability to improvise as the smart, attractive, and smoldering dream girl.
For styling, I enlisted the help of two friends that I met in Bad Girl Ventures. Vershante White of Vershante Lynn Artistry did Andrea’s two makeup looks, and Kelly Hirsch of Wicked Sugar Fashion provided many of Andrea’s jewelry and wardrobe pieces.
Moving inside to our studio, we had a digital projector and wanted to experiment. Byron was inspired by the opening credits of Bond movies like From Russia with Love or Goldfinger. We found a fun stock kaleidoscope clip and stretched it out with various effects to fill the length of the song, then we projected it over Charleston while he danced and lip-synched. Lastly, I decided that the end of the song needed a little something extra, so I invited Kristin Saez who is a belly dancer, to lend her silhouette. Visually, the belly dancing was a way to bridge between his imagination and the joy he feels when he meets her. Filming with projections in a dark studio necessitated finding the right video effect to bring out the detail of Charleston’s face, but we eventually found it. Then it was only a matter of cutting to the beat, mixing in the right amount of visual flare, and allowing the catchy song to shine. Enjoy!
Check out all of Charleston’s new tunes available in his album America.