Billy Boyd Cape is a London-based filmmaker and photographer, whose work spans music promos, commercials, documentary, and short film. He started his career early in his teenage years, while attending Bournemouth Film School, and matured creatively through photographing and filming musicians of all sorts from FKA Twigs, Pussy Riot to Pendulum, and making several commercially successful videos for artists such as Jakwob and Mr. Hudson. He received critical acclaim for his recent productions, such as Reach, an award winning short for the Channel 4 Random Acts series, and Somewhere Over the Rainbow for Pride in London, a fully street-cast commercial.
Driven by a sort of honesty and affective truth of the work, Billy turns his every project into thought-provoking visual narratives, which seamlessly blend with music score and choreography, all to engage the viewer in a deeper, meaningful, and lasting experience.
We had the pleasure to meet with Billy and discuss his love for film and passion for music, as well as his work so far and the upcoming short film, Slumber, a moving personal project in collaboration with James Jacob.
Elena Stanciu: Please introduce yourself to our readers. When did you make your directorial debut, and what led you on this career path?
Billy Boyd Cape: It's been 10 years since I first started working in film, but I still feel like I'm debuting. Or at least everything still feels alive and full of discovery. It all started as a teenage hobby, with my neighbours, making erratic genre-bumping shorts. At 19, I made my first music video for Mr Hudson, at 22 I made my university graduation film and last year, at 25, I made my first television commercial, for Pride In London. What I wanted was to make art, and I found that film was the medium for me.
ES: What do you enjoy most about this line of creative work?
BBC: I love that it's unpredictable and disruptive: you never know what next week will bring. I also like how the industry is ever-changing, nothing stagnates. There are no exact rules, answers, or one certain path, which makes the industry incredibly freeing.
ES: Who are the biggest inspirations of your career?
BBC: Directors such as Paul Thomas Anderson, David Fincher, Sofia Coppola, Jonathan Glazer, Gaspar Noé and Andrea Arnold are the reason I want to make films. But I can also name photographers Richard Avedon and Wolfgang Tillsman, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, and novelist Haruki Murakami, who have opened my mind.
ES: I know you have a passion for music, which impacts your work, spanning music promos, commercials, documentary, and short film. What genre do you feel most comfortable with and why?
BBC: Music genres are ever-bending, akin to fashion, and my taste develops and adapts to each scenario. I've made music videos for RnB, pop, grime, dance and I've had music composed, which has been tactile, dramatic, and gentle. I want to feel something that's rhythmic and takes me on a journey. But, in truth, if I find an emotional connection to the sound, then that's all I need.
ES: What's your favourite project/collaboration so far? What made it special?
BBC: Last year Channel 4 Random Acts approached me asking if I'd want to collaborate on a film with the incredible Sadler's Wells Dance Theatre. This began as a low-budget conceptual film but grew into a beautiful collaboration with choreographer and performer Botis Seva and his dance company, Far From The Norm. I developed Reach as a story for Botis and watched as he turned it into a poetic battle through movement, which we filmed early in 2018. It was the kind of project that wouldn't exist without our two minds finding a balance. Few projects are so pure, collaborative, and fulfilling.
ES: Is there a red-thread going through your work? Motifs or themes that you find yourself recurrently interested in and explore in your films?
BBC: I've realised that a lot of my work focuses on the struggle between mind and soul; the internal and the external; the conscious and the subconscious. In hindsight, I can see most of what I do navigates along these lines. I always make sure that every project is about something, always having a message. I want to give viewers something to think about days after watching the film, rather than just consume it in the moment.
ES: Your most recent short film, Slumber, is an emotional and lyrical visual story, blending quite introspective shots with the impersonal urban landscape. What can you tell us about this project?
BBC: This project is an incredibly personal project made alongside my regular collaborator, James Jacob. I've made music videos for James before, and he's scored many of my films, including Reach.
James made the music as an accidental mental health diary, born from a period of anxiety and uncertainty. The film is a journey through these feelings, the attempt to climb out of insecurity and loneliness. It was shot over about a year within one mile of where we live, hoping to discover a light in the darkness.
ES: Are there any “dream” collaborations you'd love to do in the future?
BBC: Working with the actors I'm friends with now and telling real stories that need to be told is always my goal. I just hope collaborators are my friends first and people I work with second.
Words: Elena Stanciu