Karl & Malak on Their New Music Video for Bruno Mars’ Versace On The Floor
Brothers Karl and Malak Lunsford have been collaborating creatively since they were kids. Growing up in Queens, they were inspired by Usher and Michael Jackson music videos, and with the release of their latest dance video, it’s easy to see the influence that the iconic artists had on them. The duo chose our versatile Skylit Photo Studio as the setting for the video, featuring choreography by Malak, cinematography by Karl, and music by Bruno Mars. We met up with Karl & Malak to discuss everything from inspiration to location scouting for their music video for Bruno Mars’ ‘Versace on the Floor’.
SPLACER: Tell us a little a bit about yourselves! Where did you grow up, how did you get started in film and dance?
MALAK LUNSFORD: We grew up in Queens, New York and a few years in Delaware. We actually all started dancing around the same time, we were just attracted to anything involving entertainment. We grew up watching iconic Usher and Michael Jackson videos and when I got old enough to realize that I was pretty decent at dancing, that’s when I took it a bit more seriously.
KARL LUNSFORD: With film I was always a visual person I’d stare at the TV watching music videos all day and I guess that just stayed with me.
SPLACER: Have both of you always been collaborating? Or is this your first video together?
KARL LUNSFORD: We’ve been collaborating ever since I was able to use a camera properly. I’ve pretty much used Malak to practice filmmaking on, and since I can also dance it’s been an easy connection.
MALAK LUNSFORD: He’s the worst person to work with. Just kidding! Honestly, we work like lightning, he can come up with a concept/idea on Monday and we’d be filming it by Wednesday. We’re brothers and so sometimes we’re already thinking the same thing.
KARL LUNSFORD: We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to think of something interesting because at the end of the day, anyone can make a dance video and we see so many of them going viral. But for us it’s the conceptualized ones that hold more weight in the long run.
SPLACER: Tell us about the video, who came up with the concept and why Bruno Mars’ Versace on the Floor?
MALAK LUNSFORD: The crazy thing about this video is that it was supposed to be a Whitney Houston song and we were going to have a Sax player. But at last minute Bruno Mars put this song out and Karl said since the song is picking up and Bruno is picking up a lot of attention let’s do it. He made the mix, we came up with a conclusion about where we wanted to shoot it and the rest was history.
SPLACER: So Karl, the video is almost shot entirely in one spot, can you tell us a little bit about that decision and elaborate more on your vision for the video?
KARL LUNSFORD: The song is pretty intimate so I wanted to give it a performance vibe and not have it too story heavy since the dance and the lyrics say it all. What influences me is music live performances and movement of any sort, I also love films that involve solving a mystery.
SPLACER: Tell me a little about the gear you chose for this video and how long did it take you to shoot it?
KARL LUNSFORD: I used a Sony A7SII with a 24-70mm lens, a DJI Ronin stabilizer and Arri 650w lights. We had to clamp to the ceiling on a pole, with a fog machine that wasn’t suppose to be as foggy but I forgot to take it off the time intervals but I think we made it work. It took us about 2.5hours to setup and we shot it in 30 minutes. The light that was coming from the ceiling was difficult to setup.
SPLACER: What kind of space did you envision for this video, what were you searching for?
KARL LUNSFORD: I was actually looking for a big bedroom scene but it would have had to look luxurious so I scratched that idea and went with a simple open space with a white background.
SPLACER: Any advice for aspiring filmmakers?
KARL LUNSFORD: Just put whatever you have in your head out, visualize it before you film it to the point that it annoys you so you’ll HAVE to do it to get it out to the people.
SPLACER: Moving on to the choreography, Malak, tell us a little bit about what you envisioned with the video?
MALAK LUNSFORD: Since the song has so much dynamics, I actually wanted the choreography to be a mixture for the audience. The beginning has this contemporary feeling so I kept the movements slow and purposeful, then mid-way it switches into more of a pop sound so I wanted the dance to be more urban.
SPLACER: What inspired you for the video, was it the music alone?
MALAK LUNSFORD: The music definitely inspired the choreography. As I was creating I went off just how the music made me feel, it was all instinctual. I really wanted to capture the translation of the vocals into movement. The space actually helped a bit, after we got everything set up of course. It definitely put me more into the mood of the video and the look we were going for.
SPLACER: As a dancer, you work a lot with space, tell us a little bit about that and your relationship with space.
MALAK LUNSFORD: The bigger the space, the bigger the movements. You don’t ever want to feel limited so sometimes just being aware of what’s around you will help you in the end because you learn to adjust your movements. I’ve been in small and large ones, I’m either going to create space or live with it, neither will slow me down.
SPLACER: Any advice for aspiring dancers?
MALAK LUNSFORD: Study all aspects that involve your art. For example, if you’re going to be doing a lot of videos study camera etiquette and film. If you’re going to be promoting a clothing brand, study fashion. Don’t only study dance.