Chicago’s Impakt Studio has an elaborate, yet simple motto: redefine, reinvent, explore the possibilities, ignore trends, initiate change and grow. The dynamic duo of Christopher Adams and Hana “Blaq” McDowell have been been working together by that motto for almost two decades now. And in that time the tandem has made quite the name for themselves throughout the industry and managed to work with a virtual who’s who of the Chicago music scene and beyond.
How did the idea for Impakt Studio come about?
Chris: Over 15 years ago we both saw that Chicago’s growing music industry was lacking any dynamic visual representation; the artists were creative, the sound coming out was unique, but the music videos, graphic design and photography were mediocre at best. So we saw an opportunity to give artists the world-class visuals they deserved utilizing the latest cutting edge digital technology to bring our “far out” visions to life through creative cinematography such as our HD aerial “Flying Camera,” the super creative editing of my partner, “Blaq,” or my use of innovative 3-D animation and visual effects. We are unique in that we have such a diverse skill set in a two-person operation.
Who inspires you?
Hana: Everything, its not just one thing, it can be something I have read or something I’ve seen or heard. I find inspiration all around me. Constantly. Plus I have a 3-year-old daughter who is brilliant, she most certainly inspires me.
Chris: I am inspired by a diverse hunger for imagery, from classic film makers such as the late Stanley Kubrick and Akira Kurosawa to Ground breaking Japanese Anime such as Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Ninja Scroll to world renown painters such as Salvador Dali, H.R. Giger and tons of books from philosophy to science fiction. But most importantly my father who never once said a discouraging word. He has always supported me in my many creative endeavors.”
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Hana: We are very proud of our three Grammy nominated music videos (Eric Roberson’s videos for “Still” and “Dealing”, respectively. And Lupe Fiasco’s “Kick Push”), as they were all very non typical and in line with our philosophy of Uniqueness and Originality
What’s Impakt’s approach when taking on a new project?
Hana: When people come to Impakt Studio they are bringing us their hopes and dreams. You have to handle hopes and dreams with care so we treat them as though they are our own, because we want to see them realized as much as they do.
How do you compete with some of the other bigger, more well known companies?
Chris: We let the work speak for itself. I’ll put our demo reel up against anyone’s no matter how big their budget is. Our creativity and understanding of the tools we use, the subjects we shoot along with the drive to push the limits of visual media has enabled us to stay on top.
Any favorite affirmations?
Chris: “Failure is not an option”
What do you do to unwind?
Chris: Unwind? I’m doing what I love to do! No need to unwind; I’m a creative workaholic.
Any advice or words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Hana: Don’t give up, push yourself as far as you can then push some more. If following your dreams was easy, everyone would do it.
What’s next for Impakt Studio?
Hana: We have always been very selective of the projects we take on. There are projects we’ve passed on that may have been financially rewarding but were not on a creative or social level. We understand the power of the images we create and its ability to influence those watching. We have decided to focus more on original content such as motion pictures, short films and web series with a focus on genres that we don’t see African Americans represented properly.
Chris: We are not interested in Soul Food part 8, Boyz N the Hood part 10 or the many stereotypical black comedies that continue to fail to inspire us to greater heights. Where are our epic stories of heroes that can inspire the young and old to dream beyond their current situations. Where are our grand visions of how great we can be in the future? Where are the true stories that can be told unapologetically without watering them down? We want to tell those stories. We want to expand black cinema beyond its current state of stagnation where the lowest common denominator is front and center. One of the projects we are working on is a movie about the slain Black Panther Fred Hampton starring Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def). We also have a plethora of science fiction/ action/ horror projects in various states of development so stay tuned to Impakt Studio.
For more info on Impakt Studio, please visit, www.impaktstudio.com and vimeo.com/impaktstudio