Henry / Ssong share insights on emerging from the pandemic, adventures from shooting all around the world, and perspectives on the pivotal role of diversity and inclusion in filmmaking.
Throughout their career, Henry / Ssong have been unwavering in crafting stories about the triumphs and challenges of everyday heroes. Their docu style and narrative aesthetic have shaped memorable commercials and content for brands including Google, Delta, Abu Dhabi Tourism, Ziploc, CVS, Elevit and Nescafé. Their work has gotten high marks from media tastemakers such as Adweek and Forbes and won awards at Cannes Lions, CLIO and Spikes Asia. The two first met in college at Rhode Island School of Design and remained creative partners and friends after moving to Brooklyn. Today their complementary voices draw from the cultural backdrops of Los Angeles, where Henry lives, and New York, where Ssong remains.
In their Q&A with LBB, Henry / Ssong share insights on emerging from the pandemic, adventures from shooting all around the world, perspectives on the pivotal role of diversity and inclusion, and much more.
Q> Are there any positive trends you’ve seen emerging in production after the last year of restrictions in response to the pandemic?
Henry> Relationships are more important than ever. After working on the CVS Covid vaccine campaign and filming real people following Covid production protocol, I realized trust and communication are more important than ever.
Ssong> We’ve been starved of human-to-human contact during our lockdown, so our radar for genuine relationships and interactions are hyperactive.
Q> Your commercials and branded content often share authentic stories and messages. What draws you to this style of work?
Ssong> I once heard Werner Herzog say in a short film, “Our civilization lacks adequate images. A civilization is doomed to die out if it does not develop adequate images.” I took this to heart and asked myself, ‘What can we do as filmmakers to create a more connected space through the medium?’
I was attracted to what gave life its multidimensionality. I found these emotions and visual context in authentic stories of what we so-call ‘real people, real moments,’ which to me can be found everywhere as long as there is someone on the other side of the lens that recognises this and films it. In this way, Life became Film.
Henry> For me it’s a reminder of my capacity to feel alive. Oftentimes we forget that we are part of a bigger picture. I love stories and ideas that expand on this notion, giving the viewer a moment to detach from the immediacy of existence and see the bigger picture. Often that comes through experiencing the experiences of others. This is why we love to tell underdog stories and highlight those who are underrepresented or forgotten in our society.
Q> You’re globetrotters when you work. What’s your favourite place (or places) to shoot? Why?
Ssong> I loved filming in India because of the light, the colours, the culture, the vibrancy. I have a special place in my heart for Taiwan because it’s like a second home to me, and is totally underrated as a filmmaking hub.
Surprisingly Dubai. They want to be relevant. They have the financial backing of a royal kingdom so they have all the state-of-the-art equipment and some of the best talent from around the globe working together. It was also the only time wild peacocks stormed the set, and we used prayer rugs on the dolly track.
Los Angeles because it’s the mecca of filmmaking in the 21st century.
Kenya because the skies were the highest I’ve ever felt.
NYC more often since it’s local to me and we’ve got grit here that comes through in terrific ways on a film set.
Henry> New York for its authenticity and grit. Los Angeles for the stable sun and vibrant locations. Shanghai for its chaos. Taiwan because it’s home.
Read the full Q&A HERE.
Watch Henry / SSong’s work HERE.