Still Woozy With Cinematographer Manuel Branaa

Manuel Branaa

Oakland California music Artist Still Woozy had amassed a regional fanbase but it was the video for his song “Goodie Bag” which made him a national success. Quickly accumulating more than four million views, “Goodie Bag” possessed that sincerity and authentic quality that is so attractive to music fans; a quality that can sometimes get lost when more people and more money becomes involved. To ensure that the Still Woozy sensibility wasn’t diluted, the artist made sure that the same incredible team of director Shawheen Keyani and cinematographer Manuel Branaa were utilized for the follow-up hit video “Habit.” With so many great artists in the music scene these days, a unique video can often be the tipping point for gaining national…even international attention. These two videos display the artist’s retention of a relatable and comical disposition both before receiving such immense attention and as an established signed national artist. DP Branaa gives us his personal insight into these important music videos and the methods behind them.

Manuel Branaa

“Goodie Bag” was created with the idea of friendship permeating the entire creation of the video. Still Woozy had asked his longtime friend director Shawheen Keyani to help create a memorable music video; friend to friend and artist to artist. Keyani not only liked the song but wanted to support the creative endeavor of his friend. The director appealed to the benevolent nature of his collaborator on multiple productions, cinematographer Manuel Branca. Hands were shaken and the production was underway. A vital factor in the success of the “Goodie Bag” video is that all of the artists involved were bringing their talents to this production without the interference of any business professionals and their “notes” on what they’d like to see. An artist given free rein brings their best and most creative ideas. A small group of friends, Still Woozy, and the Keyani/Branaa production duo assembled in Santa Cruz with a general idea of what to shoot but with an ethos of spontaneity. It was guerilla music video production at its best. Skateboards provided the high-tech moving shots and improvisation was the template of the day. The result is a remarkable sense of the artist and his friends enjoying themselves without any sense of pretense. The authenticity and approachability of this cannot be manufactured. In trusting the director and DP to capture the “realness” of the experience, Still Woozy obtained a video that instantly connected with the public. As the video’s views skyrocketed into the millions, labels and music industry professionals came calling.

Wethan music video

Less than one year after the breakthrough “Goodie Bag” was made, Still Woozy returned to his lucky director & DP team but with a much bigger budget this time for a second video. With the backing of the label and management, a considerably larger crew was allotted for. Stunt rigging professionals, a choreographer, and others allowed for a higher level of production on the “Habit” music video. Many of the same friends of Still Woozy appear with him on camera in this video but the approach of “Habit” is vastly different than “Goodie Bag.” Perhaps as a comical inverse statement, “Habit” uses numerous VFX to achieve a comedic and affable tone similar to Still Woozy’s first hit music video while avoiding repetition. Manuel describes how the video was created relating, “We enjoyed the first video so much, and now we had the chance to really play with the artist’s personality using a completely different approach. For the Dating Show, we designed it like an actual live show with an overhead tungsten light rig and a board operator; saving time and making it have that classic 70’s TV show aesthetic. The date scenes where all shot on a blue screen and each one of them had to have a very distinct look, from moonlight to a hard sunset on the beach.

Manuel Branaa

Given our time to shoot, we had to do these changes incredibly fast; having everything pre-lit the day before was crucial. The video’s final scene with Sven falling through the darkness was tricky; we had to have stunt riggers wire him up and lift him from the ground while placing the camera on a scissor lift way up and pointing down at his face. On top of that, we had the song sped up to twice the speed for us to shoot in slow motion.” What is most appealing about the “Habit” video is that it has an obvious much higher production level but doesn’t take itself too seriously. The same relatability that comes through in the first video is notably present here. There’s no question that Still Woozy’s decision to use the same director and DP both manifested this quality and communicated to his exponentially increasing following that he was still the same artist they fell in love with from “Goodie Bag.” Regardless of whether the production team’s technical gear is a skateboard or tungsten lighting on Panavision anamorphic lenses, having the eye and talent of a cinematographer like Manuel Branaa behind the camera is the most vital visual component. The DP himself is quick to note, “I think that Shawheen and I feel the same as Still Woozy; having the ability to work with close friends makes the job a lot more fun. We’re fortunate to know so many talented people who helped us achieve our vision.” No doubt Still Woozy feels the same.