Cycle 70's : The Making of Bank Robber
How it all happened
AUGUST 15 2019. Just another day in the life of Jordan Mars and his creative friends. We regularly talked about our ideas and watched them play out in our minds, But today was different. Today we decided; There were countless conversations about our current interests but we were never decisive. There is now a shift in digital media; the content we consumed on a daily basis became more expressive, more eccentric and experimented more with colors. Our ears were introduced to the popular genres of the yesteryears, with music streaming platforms our findings were endless. But despite all the exploration there was one era that stood out the most. That era was the 70’s.
Cycle 70’s started off as a bonafide passion project. As a matter of fact, Cycle 70’s wasn't even the title to begin with.“1970’s in Jamaica” was what we were calling it before we got the name Cycle 70’s. Big up Jamila Crosskill for giving us that name during our creative consultation. Once we chose the theme we immediately started to explore visual references from 70’s lifestyle in Jamaica. After tunneling down the rabbit hole, we decided on the main focus. We decided to explore the many fashion statements that dominated the emerging reggae music scene in Jamaica.
We wanted to take elements from those iconic pieces and create a character that would blend right in with any Jimmy Cliff “The Harder They Come” poster.
The Pinterest moodboards got us excited. The more we pinned, the more we planned. The first order of business was finding the model; Who could fill the shoes of this character we wanted to create? Without any hesitation the first candidate was Leno Banton. He was the perfect person to embody this theme and interestingly enough, a year prior, Leno expressed to us how he wanted to “Try this modelling ting.” So said, so done. Just a few months before the planning of cycle 70’s, we both collaborated on projects that ultimately lead to great results. We shot a series of images and called them “Stripes.” Stripes served as demos for what was to come. We realized that we were on to something but we needed consistency.
Leno loved the direction we were going in with Bank Robber. Now that Leno was on board. It was time to figure out the wardrobe. Now where were we going to find 1970’s themed clothing in 2019 in Jamaica? There was also the concern of cost once we found those items. Immediately, we considered the option of thrift stores. We asked, we searched and we found. We discovered our source for these throwback essentials was located on the outskirts of new kingston,an interesting place called “Quality Thrift.” Once we arrived, we knew we found something special in this place. The possibilities were endless when we thrifted as it caused us to get creative and innovative. We were “balling” on a budget. At about two or 3 visits we found most of what we needed. After every trip I would lay the findings on my 70’s inspired rug in the living room just to see what worked. However, there was one item that we were struggling to find. An essential part of any outfit, we couldn't find the right trousers. The trousers were the last thing we found for the outfit. We made so many calls but luckily enough we were able to rent a pair. Jodi Leonie also took items from her family’s 70’s stash. The vest that Leno wore belongs to her Mother. It was an essential part of her mother’s wardrobe in the 70’s when she was a fashion forward teenager. The vest is also genderless which made it a plus.
Our findings led us to think about the art direction and creative direction. Was this going to be a studio shoot? What about the setting? What type of mood were we trying to convey? Studio was the way to go. It was a matter of flexibility. Our creation was very malleable and we wanted to ensure that the execution represented the theme extremely well. We needed someone who could conceptualize and build a set. Someone who easily understood the intricacies of Cycle 70’s and 70’s aesthetic. Here enters Neko Kelly but you might know him as BootlegRocStar. Neko and I collaborated on many projects in the past. Most notably Miami Vice 1995. Neko did the creative direction and set design for that project. We struck gold in the past and without a doubt we could do it again. Neko offered his creative insights for the reggae set piece. He suggested some of the props and we were on the hunt again. Everything was coming together so nicely for the set design however, we needed a prop that undoubtedly felt Jamaican without being blatantly obvious. Jodian and I pondered on this for days. Till one day she just said “Why don’t we just put linoleum on the floor?”and that eureka moment led us down yet another rabbit hole. With every new idea there comes another “fetch quest.” Where were we going to find corny linoleum flooring in 2019? Luckily enough we tried our luck and found a store that still stocks them. We had to find the right one. One that was corny but stylish with all the right colours and patterns. We toyed with the idea of having the linoleum extend from the floor to the ceiling but we thought it would be an overkill. Now the floor is covered, where do we go from there? Neko suggested stacking old branded beer crates and leaving it at that. The simplicity spoke volumes.
Shoot day arrived, everyone was in sync. Sadly, we didn't retrieve the beer crates in time for the shoot. In a moment of complete desperation we left the studio and began to explore the premises to find a bar in hopes of getting stacks of beer crates. We managed to find a bar below the studio. They were closed but there were stacks of crates on the outside under a stairwell ready to be used. We didn't see anyone to ask permission but we took them anyways and returned them once done because the show must go on. Neko did his thing with creative direction and the set left our minds and became real. He also directed Leno with his mannerism; Leno then implemented this with his own flare and personality. Leno played the role effortlessly, almost as if it was second nature for him. Usheen Ewbanks did a great job with capturing the Behind the Scenes elements. We all looked a bit tired but we got the job done.
Now that Bank Robber was shot, it was time for post production. I was very meticulous and sometimes uncertain with the presentation of the images. Not to mention that selecting the best shots was a task within itself.
Nevertheless, the consistent effort brought forth great results.
The shots we chose featured Leno at his best. His charisma shines right through.
He was very confident and comfortable with his wardrobe and it showed. We wasted no time in showing how dapper he looked and felt. Surprisingly, it wasn't until a month before the release when I realized how well we adapted the 70’s inspired theme. This moment of clarity happened while I was watching the 1978 Jamaican film entitled ‘Rockers” directed by Theodoros Bafaloukos. None of us ever saw the movie prior to working on Bank Robber but once we did we were pleased to see that Leno’s character belonged in this setting. We were fulfilled. Bank Robber is successful in our eyes.