Retrospective Rui de Brito

Gomo, "Feeling Alive", Real. Rui de Brito, 2004 Mesa, "Luz Vaga", Real. Rui de Brito, 2004 Sam The Kid, "Poetas de Karaoke", Real. Rui de Brito, 2006 boss-ac-que-deus2
Determined to defy conventional ilustration of music, Rui de Brito developed in the last 8 to 10 years, his own form of designing videoclips in Portugal, with emphasis on design processes instead of technical.

He left his unique touch in Portuguese audiovisuals and became a major reference of creativity television and is in the process of internationalizing his activities.

In Vimus, Rui de Brito will present a retrospective of his videoclips, commenting on them and conferencing on his experience and personal vision.



Rui de Brito – Chief Executive / Creative Officer of SUBFILMES CREATIVE NETWORK (Lisboa, Nova Iorque e Barcelona)

He was Born in 1970. He has a Degree in Marketing & Advertising, 3 years as art director in advertising agencies. He founded SubFilmes in 1998, where he is currently CEO and CCO. He has emblematic projects in his curriculum as are the cases of videoclips (Gomo, ‘Feeling Alive‘ or Sam The Kid, ‘Poetas do Karaoke‘) and TV magazines (Lisboa Mistura TV, SIC Notícias; Fuzz, SIC Radical; Pop Up, RTP 2; Sociedade das Belas Artes, SIC Notícias). 


Lisboa Mistura TV (SIC Notícias – 2007-2008)
Fuzz (SIC Radical – 2007-2008)
ModaLisboa (RTP / SIC – 2004-2008)
Pop Up (RTP2 – 2004-2005)
Sociedade das Belas Artes (SIC Notícias – 2001-2003)
No Sofá Vermelho (SIC – 1999)

Videoclips (presented at ViMus 2008, pdf file here)
Pedro Abrunhosa “Quem me leva os meus fantasmas” (2007)
Boss AC – “Que Deus?” (2007)
Sam the Kid – “Poetas de Karaoke” (2006)
Gomo – “I Wonder” (2005)
Blind Zero – “Shine” On (2005)
Boss AC – “Hip-Hop” (2005)
EZ-Special – “My Explanation” (2005)
Mesa – “Luz Vaga” (2004)
Levi – “Count the Stars” (2004)
Gomo – “Feeling Alive” (2004)
Austin – “Rollercoaster” (2001)

TMN – Namorados (Krypton – 2007)
União Zoófila – Funeral (Take It Easy – 2006)

“Explosão de Pedro Bidarra”, Creative Officer of BBDO Portugal  (Krypton – 2007)







Borrow a video camera from a friend


Austin, 'Rollercoaster', Real. Rui de Brito, 2001It’s not easy to underestimate the importance of the video «Feeling Alive» (Gomo, 2004) in the history of Portuguese music video industry. I recall it personally: all of a sudden, out of nowhere, an object came into my attention, filling me with the urge to find out more about the music and its video director. When at some point I’ve heard a voice talking in Portuguese, I realized it was a National production and I was even more drawn by Rui de Brito’s video.


Besides being a metavideo thus gravitating towards its own concept (a manifestly bold and unusual genre in Portugal), «Feeling Alive» not only represented a turn away from the National film production community speech (always complaining about not having sufficient means), but also demonstrated with a fine irony that being short of resources could be a very efficient asset to video creation:  dude, if you don’t have a cam recorder, you just have to borrow one from a friend. Thus, this is not a simple do it yourself, but a do it yourself about doing it yourself. This is the same concept that turned Gomo into a mirror image of the video maker himself, his double, his semblable. Here, I dare to make a first metaphor (and is not by chance that is a cinematographic one): in its videography, Paulo Gouveia stands for Rui de Brito what Jean-Pierre Léaud was for Truffaut. And Gomo is, as he stands for, its Antoine Doinel.



Find a nice location


Rui de Brito is the Portuguese video maker with the clearest vision of what is an artist work and therefore legitimating his status as an author. His videography represent a genuine signature on audiovisual works, a connected and coherent whole, with beginning, middle and end, where each video standing as corresponding parts of an all organic body, each piece in permanent dialogue in the construction of an authorial vision of the creative and conceptual possibilities of video production. The first and more visible sign of this canonical configuration in Rui de Brito’s work is the definition of the shooting location. Boss AC, 'Hip-Hop', Real. Rui de Brito, 2005For Rui de Brito, a nice location is indoors, a confined space usually placed underground (SubFilmes is the name of his Production Company). It’s as if his camera apparently suffered from agoraphobia, whose symptoms are evident right in his debut video, where one long travelling bring us indoors («Rollercoaster», Austin, 2001). Examples of this claustrophobic space layout pop out in all his work: rooms («Feeling Alive» e «I Wonder», Gomo, 2005), corridors («Rollercoaster»), emergency stairs («Poetas de Karaoke», Sam The Kid, 2006), underground parking lots («Poetas de Karaoke»; «Hip Hop», Boss AC, 2005; as well as the pivots for the TV programm Pop Up, RTP2, 2004-2005), asylums («Shine On», Blind Zero, 2005) and other isolated places as recording Blind Zero, 'Shine On', Real. Rui de Brito, 2005studios («Luz Vaga», Mesa, 2004) or television and radio studios («Poetas de Karaoke»). Even the occasional exterior settings appearing in Rui de Brito work are typically dysphoric and marginalized environments that tend to legitimate this aesthetic agoraphobia, such is the case of the gloomy post-9/11 New York in «My Explanation» (EZ Special, 2005), subtly suggested in the soot falling of a loaded sky in «Que Deus?» (Boss AC, 2007), or the cemetery set in «Funeral» (commercial ad for União Zoófila, 2006). However, it’s in «Quem me leva os meus fantasmas?» (Pedro Abrunhosa 2007) , which I consider its masterpiece, that this configuration reaches its climax: who better than homeless people, who constantly seek for shelter, to transmit this anxiety for ceilings, walls, and floors?



Get a CD player for the playback and turn always down your mobile phone


Reminder: a video is always an artistic object of 2nd degree in the way it has to mold the subject into a frame, even through images not specifically shot for the video, since there is always another preexisting artistic object (I stress here the restricted meaning of the word videoclip – the same it is not applied, obviously, to video art). This tension between images and sound is one of the most fascinating chapters in the genre’s history and is illustrated in all sort of ways going from total subordination to the completely indifference (obviously, does not exist any direct correspondence between that scale and the aesthetic quality the videoclip). Rui de Brito  videography comprise a singular catalogue of those different possibilities, where a) images mime music – the case of the performative EZ-Special, 'My Explanation', Real. Rui de Brito, 2005video «Luz Vaga» and the lip sync in «Count The Stars» (Levi, 2004) – ; b) music concurs with the surroundings sound of the shoot location («Rollercoaster»; «My Explanation» and «Hip Hop»); c) music is interrupted by these same resonant elements («Rollercoaster», «Feeling Alive» and «Poetas de Karaoke»), and even an example is given where d) music seems to be confined to a mere soundtrack status («Shine On»). Although the given examples make visible the variety of Rui de Brito’s work, the truth is that these are all video maker manipulations, like a gesture of deconstruction, in the comfortable viewer relation with images and sounds. If this gesture is noticeable in many of his videos (the famous mobile ring followed by a Portuguese dialog in «Feeling Alive», the voice off de «Shine On» or the cameo of Gomo / Rui de Brito in «Poetas de Karaoke»), there are cases where this deconstruction reaches the rich subtly of the best conceptual videos of Spike Jonze (an obvious influence). Let’s see, by instance, how the debut video of an artist is integrally deconstructed by random interruptions of several extras, this happening in a video that by convention would present the musician Levi Martins to the public («Count The Stars») or the way the Portuguese subtitles of the words sung by EZ Special singer finish by surprisingly decipher the mute words of the video characters appearing in «My Explanation». There is no doubt that Rui de Brito’s way of disappointing the viewers expectations is one of the basic and more unifying elements of his work. And one of his most significant authorial features.



Use your own light sources, add some special lightning and apply a color correction to the image


Lightning in Rui de Brito videos is, obviously, related with his claustrophobic space conception. Lightning is nearly always sparse («Rollercoaster», «Hip Hop»), the color range extremely reduced and post-produced («I Wonder», «Shine On»), therefore it is not unusual to find recurrent use of deep blacks and black and white scenarios («Count The Stars», «Luz Vaga», «Que Deus?»).



Redecorate the place and play a second instrument


A palimpsest is a manuscript page, whether from an ancient scroll or book, that has been written on, scraped off, and used again, though faint legible remains of the text can be read by eye. This medieval recycling method (equivalent to a redecoration of a visual support) is productively applied in a most original way inLevi, 'Count The Stars', Real. Rui de Brito, 2005 Rui de Brito videography: it is invariably possible to detect some visual code upon which is set the videoclip language. Blending different styles as home shopping broadcast in («Count The Stars»), training videos in («Feeling Alive» and «I Wonder»), cinema (we’ll talk about it later on), documentary («Shine On»), advertising («I Wonder»), news and alive broadcast («Poetas de Karaoke»), closed television circuits («Shine On» and «Poetas de Karaoke») or social marketing in «Quem me leva os meus fantasmas?». This video design as a palimpsest even pops out in another well-known feature of his work: the dynamic overlapping of different typefaces, reaching a remarkable sophistication in «Luz Vaga». It’s interesting to verify how this obsessive craft has subtly fade away into the graffiti that fill «Que Deus?».



Set the camera to film mode and give it a cinemascope look


There is a clear relation between Rui de Brito videography and cinema, but one must be careful not to make false assumptions. It’s true that we get several hints Gomo, 'I Wonder', Real. Rui de Brito, 2005of this relation, demonstrated by the graphic utilization of the 555 phone code in «Count The Stars», the cinemascope look of several of his videos, and even the factual references to films as Lost Highway (David Lynch, 1997) in «Rollercoaster», Ringu (Hideo Nakata, 1998) in «Shine On», Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999) in «I Wonder», 8 Mile (Curtis Hanson, 2002) in «Hip Hop» or Lost in Translation (Sophia Coppola, 2003) in «My Explanation». However, perhaps due to some biographical references that are known to everybody (Rui de Brito has never hidden his desire to make feature films, although he failed to enter in the Portuguese Film School), there is an abusive and reductive idea in interpreting all this flirt to the seventh art as an effort to transform his videos into something impossible to be: cinema. Still, one can’t forget that cinema is only another visual language to Rui de Brito uses and deconstructs in his videos. This is particularly evident in the dynamic use of the horizontal bars in «Poetas de Karaoke», where the notorious cinemascope look coexists peacefully with televising format.



Act cool, sexy and crazy and show you can dance


With the exception of «Feeling Alive» (an irony exercise) and «Hip Hop? (not withstanding the fact that it possesses a true underground feeling), moments of euphoria are not abundant in Rui de Brito work. Characters seem to be contaminated (if not oppressed) by the dysphoric surrounding, thus composing a gloomy gallery of distant phantomlike silhouettes rotten with fury («I Wonder»), apathy («Rollercoaster» and «Count The Stars»),  lack of communication («My Explanation»), revolt («Poetas de Karaoke»), pain («Funeral»), sadness («Que Deus?»), emptyness and frustration («Quem me leva os meus fantasmas?»). Particularly evocative is the fact of Rui de Brito had used Gomo (his alter ego in «Feeling Alive», his only manifestly euphoric video) to feature in one of the rarest moments of humor in his videography («Poetas de Karaoke»). One has to say: Ask your friends to join in.



You need a beautiful girl and you need to find the right clothes


NOTE: not to forget to make up here some funny stuff before sending the text to the ViMus guys. There is a hot girl in EZ Special video «My Explanation» that looks really hot. I know that one from somewhere… To be continued.



Do stuff in slow motion and use video effect


Videoclip commonplaces as genre are bond to all sorts of image experimentation. But Rui de Brito rarely uses them. Ironically, there is only the fast-forward of a sky covered with clouds in «Que Deus?».



Prepare a mesmerizing ending


Following last year José Pinheiro retrospective, the Festival ViMus dedicates an entirely programme to another National video maker work. I am certain that this is a chance to watch a complete set of Rui Brito videography by chronological order, providing a full appreciation of his work divided in 11 chapters. Personally, I only deplore the absence of his most recent video («Quem Me Leva Os Meus Fantasmas?»), since it would be the perfect final chapter of this work. It is especially ironic to think that one video that forces the viewer into close setups of faces that we try to avoid in our daily life, is out of screening due a firm decision of its own maker. Who knows?, maybe this is the last and bolder gesture of Brito, the Deconstructor.



Next Lesson: How to get money for your next video text


Humm. I didn’t get there yet.”



João Pedro da Costa

August de 2008


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