‘Dear Male Ego’ is the ambitious new project by 20 year old portrait director Darnell Depradine, a highly emotive look at what lies behind society’s accepted conventions when it comes to male strength and ego.
A look at male suicide rates repeatedly indicate an issue we struggle to understand as a society let alone deal with adequately; the cold truth is that men between the ages of 20 and 49 are more likely to die by suicide than they are from cancer, road accidents or even heart disease. Decades of narrow expectations when it comes to gender roles means men fall silent. Women are expected, stereotypically, to be ’emotional’ whereas men cannot give voice to stress or anger.
“Modern masculinity to me is the conventions society has given males.” Darnell says when I ask him what modern masculinity means, “the way we have to act, to speak, to live and to see ourselves. In modern day, it may be listening to certain music or dressing a certain type of way. I think It heavily depends on the culture you’re surrounded by.” Hyper masculinity is not a new concept, for a long time it’s been an idea tied to highly sexualised and often racially charged perceptions of black men. Over time, it’s become an expectation many have felt compelled to live up to. Progressive attitudes towards homosexuality and gender have meant things have begun to shift and questions are being asked about just who exactly is served by these rigid gender roles?
It’s the question that drove Darnell to make his 16 minute visual EP. Having already begun to make a professional name for himself directing music videos and working with Revolt TV, WSTRN, Charlie Sloth, Chip and Shae – Darnell felt it was time he started the conversations about the things that matter to him most, “I’m ready to let go of my emotions and show the world my potential to the best of my current ability – by releasing films that challenge my audience and leave them with a sense of enlightenment.”
Balaclava’s in bombastic shades serve as the visual representation of ego through out the film, it envelopes each individual completely – leaving only the vulnerability found in the eyes bare. I ask Darnell about ego in art, how necessary it is to the creative process? “I think ego is very important to art. A person’s self-esteem is what can make them be the best they can be. I feel that at the point when you’re most vulnerable is the point that you’re the most authentic with your art. It’s makes it more beautiful. Releasing my first visual EP will be very exciting as it is something different. To produce an EP and direct a short film simultaneously really pushed me as a director as well an artist – in creating art that was truly honest to me.”
‘Dear Male Ego’ features a sound track executive produced by Darnell, soulful and deliberate the production comes courtesy of Liklke Jay with additional production and songwriting from Josh Kai, Navan and Jefe. Fluid and sensual it’s a soundtrack that has been designed to accompany, rather than over shadow – to enhance rather than mask the messages of the short.
Inspired by the work of visual artist Kahlil Joesph, Darnell has learned how to infuse his frames with emotion and the way colour choices are able to communicate ideas non verbally, “Khalil Joseph to me is one the best directors. His imagery in all of his scenes is amazing and I can honestly watch all his work again and again. I practically do. He made me understand how emotion can be portrayed in scenes in such an artistic way. I also learnt how much creative as well as art direction matters in film now, those are the things that can really make or break a film.”
‘Dear Male Ego’ is the subtle, heartfelt exploration of the millennial male ego, it’s limitations – and what becomes possible when you take the risk and free your mind.