Danni Ma, originally from Tianjin, China, transitioned from a budding painter to a celebrated cinematographer. At 17, Danni enrolled at Sydney College of the Arts, where she explored experimental videos and contemporary art theories.
Post-graduation, Danni continued her journey in narrative filmmaking at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in the United States, refining her skills as a Director of Photography and finding inspiration from her peers.
Today, Danni Ma is a distinguished figure in the vibrant cinematic landscape of Los Angeles, skillfully weaving stories with light and shadow. Her journey showcases the transformative power of pursuing one's dreams and evolving as an artist. In cinematography, Danni Ma shines as a visionary artist who breathes life into stories with the play of light.
Your project has entered our festival. What is your project about?
My music video, 'More,' is an artistic interpretation of a song by the rock and roll band Fractured. The song delves into the narrative of a young man who strikes a Faustian deal with the devil in pursuit of his dream to become a rockstar, hoping to shed his pain. To convey this narrative, I harnessed the synergy of visual elements and lyrics to craft a compelling story. Through the juxtaposition of cyan daylight and the warm glow of orange candlelight, I aimed to evoke a sense of heaviness and an almost infernal ambiance, mirroring the weight of the protagonist's choices.
What are your ambitions with your project?
My ambitions with this project were to reignite the passion for Rock and Roll in a time when the genre was less prevalent. Through thoughtful cinematography, the deliberate application of dynamic camera movements allowed us to infuse the music's essence into every frame. I carefully selected camera angles, employed tracking shots, and exaggerated Dutch Angles, and employed graceful pans to convey the music's vibrant groove visually. This project showcases the significant impact of camera movement as it added a distinctive and captivating dimension to our storytelling, leaving a lasting impression on the audience. It's a testament to the power of cinematography to transcend the ordinary and immerse viewers in the heart of the music.
Tell us something about your shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?
During this shoot, I was the cinematographer and also the camera operator. I was capturing a music video that demanded the band to perform the music numerous times. What pleasantly surprised me was how deeply moved I was every time I operated the camera during their live performance. The synergy between the live music and the camera work was truly magical. It felt as though the camera was dancing in perfect harmony with every note, every rhythm, and every flow of the music. The frames and camera movements surpassed my expectations and added an incredible dimension to the visual storytelling. It was a delightful surprise to witness the camera work seamlessly complementing the live band performance.
What locations did you choose for your project? And why?
When the director and I conceptualized the mood board for this project, we envisioned using both a church and an abandoned warehouse as our primary locations. We aimed to create an atmosphere that exuded a sense of disarray and decadence, and for the church, we desired a space that encapsulated abandonment. With the assistance of our talented production designer, we were able to transform this vision into a tangible reality, breathing life into it beyond our wildest imaginations.
The church we selected was originally an abandoned house, completely vacant when we scouted the location. What you see in the music video is a direct result of our meticulous visual design. Every element, every detail, and every aspect of the church location was carefully crafted to convey the exact mood we envisioned, all born from our creative collaboration and brought to life in a setting that was truly abandoned and empty.
How would you characterize your work?
I would characterize my work as a passionate blend of visual storytelling and the raw energy of rock and roll music. With a deep love for the genre, I have poured my heart and soul into each music video project, striving to capture the essence of the music and translate it into captivating visuals. I believe that great music deserves equally great visuals, and I have taken every opportunity to infuse creative ideas into my work, delivering a unique and powerful experience that resonates with both the band and the audience. My cinematography is driven by a desire to honor the spirit of rock and roll, making each video a visual journey that mirrors the music's intensity and emotion.
For what group of spectators is your music video targeted?
The music video, currently available on the band's YouTube channel and well-received by both audiences and fellow music bands, is intended for a broad and diverse audience. It's designed to resonate with anyone who shares a passion for rock and roll music, catering to rock enthusiasts and music lovers of all backgrounds and tastes.
At what festivals have you had success?
'More' has been the official Nominee at the New England International Film Awards, an Offical Selected at the Rome Prisma Film Awards, and a Finalist on the Rome Music Video Awards
.How has COVID affected your film life?
During the COVID pandemic, while I was still attending film school, many of my classmates opted for a gap year. This unique circumstance provided me with the opportunity to step into the role of a cinematographer for numerous projects. This experience not only allowed me to enhance my skills in cinematography but also provided invaluable hands-on experience across a variety of project genres.
What do you do if you're not thinking about a movie, work, shooting?
What are your hobbies?
I have a deep passion for music in all its forms, and I've taught myself to play the drums.
What projects do you plan to shoot in the future?
I'm currently in close collaboration with a local punk band in Los Angeles. They've recently released their new album, and we're in the midst of creating music videos together.