Ilanna Barkusky: Simply Stronger
By Alixandra Rutnik on Aug 08, 2022
One Club Member features female athletes' incredible talent in her new spot
Watching professional female sports is becoming just as popular as watching male players dominate the fields, and One Club Member, Director, and ADC 100 winner Ilanna Barkusky truly embodies this bold theme in her latest spot.
In Simply Stronger Ilanna captures six professional female athletes in action and highlights their endurance, strength, and commitment. All of these vignettes are complemented by an original Alyesha Wise poem.
We talked to Ilanna to discover all that went into her latest passion project– the drone shot is incredible and not to be missed. And if you're curious about her stunning Cube-winning work Colour Series, you can read about it here.
What passion of yours does this personal project represent?
I have come to realize that making personal projects is a part of my foundation and expression. It is incredibly rewarding for me– so no matter how busy life gets, I am always doing my best to set aside time and create just for the pure love of it.
The vision is to celebrate women who have gone to great lengths for the sports or activities they live and breathe. I have personally seen friends go through setbacks and injuries and battle past adversity countless times, only to reach new heights after the fact. I have always looked at them in awe, so I approached this piece to show my admiration and to shine a light on what we all go through in pursuit of our passions.
"The vision is to celebrate women who have gone to great lengths for the sports or activities they live and breathe."
I am hoping that the video will be out in the world and reach the audience it was meant for when we created it. I hope it will inspire those who watch it to push through setbacks and challenges they might face as these women have in their careers.
"I hope it will inspire those who watch it to push through setbacks and challenges they might face as these women have in their careers."
This project included an awesome group of people – we had a crew of about 14 that worked on the production and post-production side of things. I wouldn’t be able to bring these ideas to life without them!
What about sports makes you want to pick up your camera and film?
There are endless stories to be told within sports and about athletes in general – moments of joy, endlessly perfecting a craft, comebacks, overcoming pressure, and triumph. Storytelling is a way to document the talent and strength that sports bring out.
For each sport, we approached it differently, using various camera moves and asking the athlete what they wanted to do on their end. When it comes to action sequences, it is a collaborative effort with the talent in front of the camera.
After storyboarding and coming up with individual shot lists, we captured everything and came back with around four hours of footage to sift through and make selects for the final.
We used a few different camera systems – a Red Komodo on land, DJI Inspire for the overhead shot, Canon C300 in the studio, and a Red Raptor for both underwater pool shots we did. I would say the Raptor was the most exciting of them all, mainly because the quality of the footage we were able to capture in the pool was so beautiful.
What is your relationship with the six pro athletes in this video?
I would love to shout out the incredible women that agreed to give their time and talent for this project! I was able to connect with the athletes involved through two amazing people in the sports community, Alana Casner and Karlie Samuelson.
Simply Stronger features, Swimmer: Caroline Burckle; Diver: Katrina Young; Figure Skater: Starr Andrews; Triple-Jumper: Kiana Davis; Basketball Player: Jacki Gemelos; and Soccer Player: Jasmyne Spencer.
I wanted to showcase as many different sports as we could fit in, including both summer and winter. For the viewer, including activities that they might feel a connection towards as they watch, juxtaposed with something they might never have experienced or tried before.
Was a voiceover part of the original project brainstorm?
Working with Alyesha on writing the script was the first step of the entire process. She is an incredibly talented spoken word poet out of LA, so once I reached out to her and she was on board, my mind started running wild with ideas. I came across her poetry online and was so moved by it. I knew she was a perfect fit for the tone and spirit of the piece that I had envisioned, and she did a beautiful rendition of the poem for the voiceover.
Once the poem was written, it seemed like the title for the spot was right there. It is the last two words, the overarching theme, and the message of rising above it all.
"Once the poem was written, it seemed like the title for the spot was right there. It is the last two words, the overarching theme, and the message of rising above it all."
How did you capture the diving shot?
It was exciting to bring a drone to the pool and see what would happen! We were super fortunate that the diver Katrina was so game to experiment with us and give it her all, right after a trip to Europe for World Championships. As she is a 10m platform diver, we needed a different perspective and a way to lean into a sense of scale, which is where the Inspire came in. Shout out to Jake, Ryan, and Winston at Drone Dudes – we all planned out the best way to capture this and have some ideas to take away for next time!
Now that this project is wrapping up, what’s next?
I’m excited to keep it moving on both the directing and photography side of things – personal projects and otherwise! It has been an amazing journey since I moved from Canada in late 2020, so I am on the ride and enjoying every moment of it.
CREDITS: Director & Producer: Ilanna Barkusky, @ilannaemily Written by Alyesha Wise, @alyeshawise DP (On Location): Matt Tipold, @teeper DP (Studio): Justin Schaefers, @justinschaefersdir Underwater Camera: Jacqueline Lehr, @jacquelinelehrrr Drone Operator: Jake Howard, @j_howiee @dronedudes Lighting (Studio): Mikey Pedersen @amikiep 1st AC (Studio): Cam Campbell, @camcam307 Senior Editor: Hanna Sturwold, @hannasturwold Assistant Editor: Alexander Vollmann Sound Designer: Jared Horowitz, Eggmen NYC Composer: Donny Dykowsky, The Ski Team Colorist: Katherine Fox, @foxcolorlab BTS Photography: David Lozano, @davidlozano Special Thanks: Alana Casner & Karlie Samuelson @bunnyfromtheblock @karliesamuelson Featuring: Starr Andrews @starrandrews2002, Caroline Burckle @caroburckle, Katrina Young @katrinanole, Jacki Gemelos @jacki23, Jasmyne Spencer, @jayspence3, Kiana Davis @kiana_imani Makeup Artist: Samantha Fryling, @samsinstaglam
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