Codi Barbini is an artist, commercial video director, and filmmaker based in New York City. Her work explores complex social realities across themes of trauma, joy, resilience and technology. Her work has been shown at OVNi Objectif Video Nice, The Santa Monica Museum of Art, The Annenberg Space for Photography, and published in the LA Times, Flaunt Magazine, Leveled, and Collective Magazine among others.
Codi’s feature documentary, The New Normal, which follows teenage survivors of the Stoneman Douglas school shooting, will be released in 2020. Her video installation that came out of making The New Normal, The Executive Condolence, will be exhibited at A+D Museum and opens on January 25th, 2020 and runs through April 5, 2020. We are pleased to share a trailer for it with you here:
How and when did you decide to get into the world of video production?
I never really had a plan to make movies or to work with video, I just wanted to be an artist. I studied Art and Photography at Cal Arts, working a lot with text and image, often using documentary photography paired with fictional narratives, so I’ve always been interested in storytelling. Video and film seemed like the next step, or was a new way of doing what I was already doing. I just love it. I think video and film is the medium of my generation.
Your work explores complex social realities across themes of trauma, joy, resilience and technology. Why do you focus on those themes and what led you to them?
Perhaps it’s the journey of the struggle, in a particular way, that I relate strongly to. I never really seek out projects with these particular themes, but they are often what I pull out of a project or relate to the most. I’ve been working on a lot of projects with teenagers and so naturally technology plays a part. It played a big part of my late teens and early 20’s, and in my life now. Technology eases things and complicates life in equal measure, especially for young people. These themes seem to affect each other. After finishing The New Normal, a project that was about trauma following a school shooting, I became so interested in the idea of joy – I spiraled – trying to focus on that. My project with Carmen Cicero was the next film I made, and was really about how much joy he has and how full of life someone can be. When I started to make the film, I couldn’t ignore talking to him about the devastating fire that destroyed all of his work early in his career, because to me it seemed essential to the happiness he has. There is a balance of joy and sadness in life and both are really beautiful to me. So long answer short – I think the themes in my work are what I find the most beautiful about the human condition.
How would you define your directing style?
My directing style really changes depending on the project but overall I consider myself a sensitive and collaborative filmmaker. I really listen to my subjects and pivot based on their needs. When I start a project, or documentary, I always have an idea about what I’m interested in and what story I want to tell, but often the story you set out to tell isn’t the story you end up with, so I try to stay open and roll with the punches and allow other things to enter and exit. It’s part of the beauty of making something that’s alive — nurturing it to let it flourish and grow.
Adam Savage once said, “ A true creator knows that you follow the thing to where it’s going, not to where you think it should go”.
As an artist and documentary filmmaker, is there a distinction between your work and your life?
My work really is my life. I’m an all or nothing sort of person, and therefore I have a hard time compartmentalizing the work and the life part. I think to make something really good, you have to live it with your whole self. Even if it’s something small, even if it’s something no one will see. I don’t see any point doing it any other way.
What project are you most proud of?
Well, I’m really proud of everything I make. I work really hard at it, and even with its flaws or imperfections, I love it for what it taught me and how it’s brought me to the present moment. Currently, I have a video installation at the A+D Museum which is really exciting for me, because it’s my most recent project and something that I haven’t done before, but something I see myself doing a lot more of.
Check out this trailer for Codi’s powerful installation:
Who are your dream clients?
I just finished a film called Eternity’s Sunrise: The Life of Carmen Cicero, for WeTransfer, and they are actually dream clients. Alex Kahl, the executive producer, is so great, a true artist. The whole team really gave room to make the film I thought I should make, they were so sensitive to the subject (Carmen) and really gave notes that made the film better. I’m so grateful to have worked with them.
Check out Bodi’s short film for WeTransfer, “Eternity’s Sunrise: The Life of Carmen Cicero Codi,” which captures 93-year-old painter Carmen Cicero reflecting on life, and gives some insight into his near-century of artistry.
What advice to you have for others?
We live in a world filled with so many distractions. Try to put your blinders on and ask for what you want.
We’re so grateful to female commercial director Codi Barbini for taking the time to share her story with us. As a woman-owned video production agency and branded content studio, Ezra Productions is committed to featuring women, minorities, and young people both behind the camera and in front of it. Whether you’re looking for a video production company in Los Angeles or New York, we are experts at creating engaging video that promotes your brand and social change. Contact us to learn more about our services as a commercial video production company.