JANUARY 9, 2023
CAN | 3 minutes | 2021
Music video directed by David J. Fulde
Featuring Dani Saldo
Told through the lens of a first generation immigrant, SPACE recounts the lived experience of an inter-sectional woman trying to find the courage to take up space during the pandemic. Inspired by her inter-sectional experience finding herself in conversations where people were talking about people with disabilities and people of color, where she was unable to talk about her own experiences. Spending most of the last two years in the hospital & doctors appointments just trying to stay alive and survive her brain injury, mobility issues, fibromyalgia & other illnesses, follow Dani’s first steps in overcoming the anxiety of taking up space, while confined to the same one for years and her journey to find a new normal in her body in addition to adjusting to the new normal in the world.
CineAsian Films (CAF): What inspired the concept behind SPACE?
Dani Saldo: SPACE was inspired by my own experiences during the pandemic. In the pandemic, I’ve been struggling with my health & identity with the barriers to access I face as a first generation Filipino woman & as a person with a disability. I found myself in so many conversations where people were talking about people with disabilities and people of color, where I couldn’t speak up, or talk about my own experience because the anxiety that comes with taking up space. I’m from a city in Canada that is predominantly white and upper middle class, so I am often in spaces where I’m the only person of color, or the only person with a disability.
People were talking about people like me in front of me, and speaking as if the experiences of people with disabilities and people of color were in theory, and having to hear “Oh, we’re so lucky that we have it okay, just living at home with our families and having more time at home. Other people have it so much worse” as if I was in the same situation as one of the, when it was so much farther from the truth.
While facing the grief that comes with a global pandemic, I was in a life changing car accident and a life threatening emergency surgery back to back. I sustained a traumatic brain injury and mobility issues that I’m still working through and relying mostly on my savings and government support programs to help me get through as I can barely work a part time job due to my disability, and it’s taken years to be able to figure out how to generate income and work within the small amount of energy I have to work. And this situation just felt so painful to navigate- it felt like every single part of my identity & circumstances that I was born into set me back so far back that I’d never be able to be where others around me were. The pandemic for me, really laid bare the effects of systemic privilege and where as other people took it as an opportunity to rest, reprocess, recharge and reconnect- I was literally fighting for my life.
So when I’m in those conversations I feel the pressure and need to speak on behalf of the community, to let them know what’s really happening with people like me, but honestly, I have trouble speaking for myself, let alone a community. Taking up space, navigating accessibility as a person of color, has felt incredibly lonely and isolating, even more so in the pandemic. Having to find a new normal in my body in addition to one in this world has been so hard.
We shot the video in my house, with a small diy team made up of just my friends & a really cool videographer and director David J Fulde, trying to show what it’s been like being stuck in my house, anxious & frustrated as hell trying to have the courage to speak up all while having the days melding into one having this one sided conversation w myself.
Visually, it was actually inspired by spongebob squarepants, which I think is hilarious. There’s a video of Squidward being depressed in the same spot, getting sadder and sadder, which is honestly how the last few years felt, so we decided to pay homage to it. Other than that, it was also inspired by Scott Pilgrim, because the way that the transitions in that movie work were always my favourite, so effortlessly smooth and something we wanted to emulate.
CAF: What were some of the challenges you faced while making this film?
Saldo: As mentioned before I struggle with a disability so one of the challenges we faced was navigating my physical limits. I’m photosensitive because of my brain injury, so when you’re doing a video shoot or you’re staring up at multiple lights, acting, and emoting, and shooting for at least 12 hours, you have to be clever about the ways you go about things. So whenever I wasn’t shooting I was wearing sunglasses, and getting a friend to stand in and whenever they were setting up, I had to recharge, close my eyes and take a little nap in between breaks.
One of the other things was, I was doing stunts a little in this one. There was one set up where I was in a window and I had to jump down from a window onto my couch, which is at least like a meter up, so I got up on the window and fell down for the shot and my friend (who was actually one of the people who wrote & produced this song with me) had to catch me. And there were multiple setups like this where, I had to have a friend on standby to catch me, pull me out of frame, hold me up, and so many other things I didn’t think about while creating and creative directing the concept. Which was really funny to me, knowing my mobility issues.
CAF: What do you hope people can take away from this incredible song and video?
Saldo: When you’re focused on survival, speaking up is a luxury- and it’s one I’ve been fighting to have. So, we wrote space, for all times I’ve felt like I should just shut up & the times where I’ve wanted to take up space but didn’t. I don’t know many people with stories like mine, but I know there’s bound to be someone who feels something similar. I don’t want anyone to feel small or feel this way, trying to survive through circumstance. I hope that people can take away that it’s okay to fight for the space you need, even though its scary and know that they’re not alone in that. I hope that by sharing my story, I can empower others to take up the space they’d like to create to exist, the space to rest, the space to fight, the space to speak up and more.
CAF: Are you working on anything new?
Saldo: I am! It’s going to be a busy year. In 2023, I plan to release at least two new singles and maybe an EP as an artist if I’m able to get the funding I need, which I’m really excited about. And also! There may be a video or two that I’ve creative directed on coming out as well, in addition to in March, the release of one of my favourite songs I’ve written with another artist. In 2023 I plan to take up even more space as an artist, as a writer and as a person – so stay tuned on that.
Space is one of the many great projects shared with CineAsian Films through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them, submit your project.
Director: David J. Fulde
Producer, Writer: Daniella Saldo Amican