On November 9, 2017, Joey Batts and Rudy debuted ROY G. BV at the Wadsworth Athaneum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT. The packed house in attendance that night witnessed an honest depiction of real people and their emotions, revealed via a beautifully balanced experience of colors, music and scenes capturing Autumn in Connecticut.
The initial response to ROY G. BV warranted follow up showings, which took place around the state in front of audiences both large and small. And now, thanks to the reception of the film and the creators’ desire to continue using music, film and people’s real life experiences, Joey, Rudy and Bklyn have traveled to Nova Scotia to begin acquiring content that will result in ROY G. BV II.
Over the course of the 40 minute film, each color – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet – is used to represent a specific individual and their personal experiences and feelings. As different men and women answer Joey’s questions, the viewer watches and listens, experiencing their own emotional roller coaster: ROY G. BV will make you feel – there will be sadness, tears, frustration, regret, empathy, smiles and more. The beauty of this film, aside from the actual visual aesthetic, is its ability to create connection and relatability through emotions. While we get glimpses, bits and pieces, we never find out the full story of any one of the individuals showcased. This aspect of ROY G. BV is highlighted by the fact that only on rare occasion does the viewer actually hear what Batts is asking. Rather, we only hear the response.
When we hear one young lady discuss the importance of trusting herself, a symptom of realizing she can’t trust anyone else at this point in time, we never find out what lead her to this realization – we don’t know who hurt her, we don’t know what happened. All we know is how she is feeling and, as a result of that, the emotional reaction the viewer experiences is based on their own personal story. We are relating to her not because we’ve experienced the same exact events but because we have felt similar emotions.
And herein lies one of the film’s most powerful takeaways – don’t assume you know what any other person is feeling, especially when you don’t know what they are going through. When we pass a stranger on the street, it’s very easy to create a story for that person. This is something we all do, creating a narrative based on our own perception and experiences without taking the time to listen to and learn from said individuals.
You might walk by a person who is tattooed with scars, their face carrying the physical impact of a serious accident, and immediately presume that person has to be depressed and hurting – physically or emotionally – because of their outward appearance. But, had you taken a minute to engage in conversation, how quickly you would discover that this man is a textbook example of the power of positive thinking, faith and self awareness.
As the film demonstrates, even if you have not lived through the same experience as another person, chances are likely you’ve felt the same way – and through this, all of us here on Earth possess the ability to connect, relate, feel empathy for and, most importantly, love each other. Across the board, we as a people need to stop judging based on perception, personal narrative and appearance…because, your strong friend who is always smiling might be the one who needs your love and support the most.
The colors and associated elements of ROY G. BV not only display various emotional states, they also work to exhibit different methods of coping with one’s experience here in the physical. As healing is a personal experience, their is no right or wrong way to process one’s emotions. We all experience and handle our shit in different ways, based on what we live through and what emotions pass through us. The film presents a wide spectrum of processing – those who surrender to the helplessness, those who turn perceived “negatives” into “positives”, those who cut themselves off from society, the use of creative outlets to rise from the darkness.
Watching ROY G. BV, I found myself at times becoming frustrated that I was unable to give my input or advice to the people sharing their stories. If only I could tell them this, I thought, then they would have a much easier time “seeing the light”. And how funny that is – as a viewer, I stopped listening and trying to understand, instead focusing on what I could say to try to help them. You see, this is another shortcoming of society – we tend to think, based on our own experience, that we have this innate ability to offer magical, all-healing words of wisdom to any person we cross paths with.
And we don’t.
I appreciate this film for helping me humble myself and recognize that sometimes, all people need is someone to listen to them. All people need is to know they are being heard. While there is a time and place to offer guidance or insight, what works for you may not be what another person needs. And this is why, whether we agree with it or not, it is vital in this life to respect each individual’s process. We all experience life in a very unique way and, as such, we all heal in our personal ways.
There is perhaps no artist who could connect the visual and emotional vibe of each color with a sonic backdrop as precisely as Rudy. It is at times eerie how accurately Rudy’s music works to accent the mood that carries over after each person reveals fragments of their headspace. Through combinations of guitar riffs, keys and crooning, the viewer is on the receiving end of sorrowful, haunting sounds in one moment and then suddenly lifted with a comforting, almost ascension-esque vibe the next. We hear music that triggers deep, reflective sensations, as well as sounds that practically paint the picture of an individual who is alone but not lonely.
And, on a similar note, Joey’s camera work captures the essence of how the dialogue makes the viewer feel. His shots of the fall scenery, from the trees to the water and everything in between, manage to juxtapose the image with the color and emotions portrayed by the individual. What works best is the simplicity of Joey’s filming – he doesn’t need anything more than truly natural shots, allowing the visuals to speak for themselves without dampening their impact with overly complicated effects.
ROY G. BV is an experience that balances the use of images, music and dialogue to create a captivating, emotional commentary on mental health. There is an enigmatic aura about the film, due in part to its transparent but not outright revealing nature. After watching, the viewer may want more information about each individual but, internally, they recognize that they don’t need it – the connections have been made through the emotional relatability that is ROY G. BV.