The Making of Bless in Bulawayo

It’s been a year since we filmed the music video for No Advice, a journey that took us up into the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe with just a Sony A7iii and the creative passion of my two inspired friends, Kalai Faye Barlow and Richard Watson. No Advice follows the journey of a young woman and her three friends adventuring through Nyanga, through ancient flat top acacia forests and cool mountain streams. The song’s lyrical story speaks of trusting one’s own intuition and, with a sort of playful bravery, facing the uncertainties that life, that most ancient of teachers, may present to you.

Filming Bless

Harare, November 2018. I met up again with Richard and Kalai to begin work on a second video – a long anticipated project dreamt up while I was living in London. Armed with a small crew of skilled and creative friends, we packed a car full of hired lighting equipment, costumes, cameras, a drone and ourselves, and headed down to my hometown, Bulawayo.

The idea was ambitious. We needed permission granted from city council for various sites, from the National Railways of Zimbabwe (to film on a moving train) and time management to film several intricate scenes in multiple locations in and around the city of Bulawayo. But the city was behind us and the project was a go.

Think filmic 1930’s Bonny & Clyde classic western meets stylised bohemian steam punk. The video’s narrative hints back to where we left off in No Advice, with the motif of the owl feather (which appears on my debut EP The Suspects) threading the two together. Set in a phantasmagorical daydream, two accomplices appear to rob a bank, fleeing the scene in a shower of bond notes, making their escape on a train in an abandoned industrial train yard.

A Little Help From My Friends

I was thrilled to enlist the help of a couple legends in town. Bill Rose and Zuga Kruger play the part of two gentleman playing monopoly on a train, nonchalant and oblivious as the two outlaws are spotted racing to catch a train outside the carriage window. Perhaps you’ve spotted Bill at the Bulawayo antique auctions or had a long and intriguing chat over a good cup of tea. You can find Zuga in any country on earth travelling with just his self and extreme sense of adventure, or, more likely, re-aligning his soul to the beat of the cosmos at an outdoor trance festival.

Local artist and friend, Neville Starling, lent us several of his artworks for the filming of the bank robbery scene. This was only a few weeks before the announcement that he had been selected to represent Zimbabwe at La Biennale di Venezia in Italy. Starling will be exhibiting his work at the Zimbabwean Pavillion at The Venice Biennale alongside Cosmas Shiridzinomwa, Georgina Maxim, and Violet K. Hwami in May this year.

On behalf of all the crew, we wish you all the best, Nevi!

Thanks to our two sister muses – Ariana Little and Tariro Chinyemba who play amongst the ruins in the abandoned and dream-time train yard. Tariro was cast in support of the ‘Friends of Albinism’ Campaign, and we extend our special thanks to the Albino Society of Zimbabwe.

The Song

I wrote the song ‘Bless’ whilst living in London. It was inspired by my friends and memories of home, by the extraordinary experiences of growing up in Zimbabwe; a breath-taking part of Africa with much pain and turmoil in its history yet hope in its future. I’m thrilled to share it with you all wherever you find yourself on this crazy rock. I hope that it stands as a testament to the creativity of our people and to the freedom of expression of the artist worldwide.

The video will be released on Thursday March 7th, 2019 – tell your tribe and save the date!

With Love,

Amy

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© Amy and The Calamities 2017-2019