Louisville videographer captures Black Lives Matter protests
“Why are you out here protesting?”
It’s a question local videographer Kyle Gordon asked over and over to protestors in the summer of 2020. After spending 30 days protesting alongside those same people, he picked up his camera to make a series of videos focused on the Black Lives Matter movement in Louisville and the protests following the death of Breonna Taylor.
It turned into “Voices of the Movement,” the first major video project Gordon produced by himself.
“I wanted to be out there for them and not exploit the movement. I didn’t feel like it was my story to tell. I was supposed to be just a body on the ground,” Gordon told the Courier Journal.
Last summer, protestors swept across America in response to the death of both Taylor and George Floyd and while a major spotlight was placed on the protests, often they were portrayed in a negative light. Many people, like Gordon, countered that narrative with their own footage of the peacefulness they witnessed during the movement.
“I feel through personal stories and being able to have conversations with one another that we can understand each other more,” Gordon said.
In the beginning, the project didn’t have a direction and evolved as Gordon interacted with people.
“I let the project take me where I want it to take me. I had no expectations, so I set little goals,” Gordon said. The project now consists of 50 videos across a variety of social media platforms.
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A father of mixed-race children, Gordon originally joined the protest movement in Louisville to help make the world a better, safer place for his two kids. He could often be spotted at the protests wearing his signature “Best Dad” hat, a reminder to himself to be the best dad and best version of himself he can be.
That hat, which he wears to gigs all around town, has become part of his brand.
“That kind of went into the business. I started getting tagged as the ‘Best Dad’ video guy. Like rappers, especially would tag me and say things like ‘just go to work with the best dad’ and things like that,” Gordon said. “It kind of branded itself.”
Gordon embraced the moniker and Best Dad Media was born. His family helps operate the business — his children designed the logo and help him get things together and shoot videos. His partner also helps him with the back-end of the small business, which has fewer than five employees.
The mission of Best Dad Media is simple. “I would say, we really want to help people that don’t get to tell their story,” Gordon said.
Gordon has more than 10 years of video experience working alongside many Louisville recording artists such as The Real Young Prodigy’s and Marc DiNero. His work can also be found in Oprah Magazine, TIME Magazine and other major media outlets.
He started his career path while working full-time at a local church. He was in charge of anything creative, from graphics and paintings to stage design and more. The pastor eventually asked him to create a video and he began to learn as much as he could about videography.
“I was in a unique place where I really got to know things. They invested in me and helped me learn the craft. Once I started picking it up, I kind of went down the route of church videography, kind of like documentary-style testimony videos,” Gordon said.
He then transitioned into wedding videography and in 2018, he went into full-time videography with an emphasis on entertainment, like music videos and commercials.
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That’s how he met Antonio Taylor and his wife, Nyree Clayton-Taylor. They created a non-profit organization called Hip-Hop into Learning and hired Gordon to shoot a video for its social justice group, The Real Young Prodigy’s. He helped film its first project called Raparations, which was about getting reparations, the making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged, and is often part of the conversation surrounding the descendants of formerly enslaved Black people.
“He has worked on every project we have done since 2019. We love that Kyle has a passion for the kids, passion for the kid’s voices and he has a real passion for the community as well,” Taylor told the Courier Journal.
Gordon helped create The Real Young Prodigy’s latest video called Crown, a project that inspired Louisville Metro Councilman, Jecorey Arthur (D-4), to file an ordinance for the CROWN Act or ‘Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair’ in Louisville.
The ordinance, which was signed into law by Mayor Greg Fischer in mid-July, bans discrimination against a person based on their natural hair or hairstyles
“Kyle played a big role in that. He helped create a lot of concepts for the video. He was a big part of helping the kids reach their goal,” Taylor said.
Gordon has been involved in many paid projects, but his passion projects, like the one at the recent protests, are what he enjoys the most.
“The projects that nobody was paying me to do. Nobody told me to do it. I wanted to do it,” Gordon said of his work.
When COVID-19 and the death of Breonna Taylor overtook the city in 2020, Gordon took a step back to revaluate the path he wanted to take with videography.
“I was following the path of all these people before me, and they all kind of paved the path that I don’t want to take,” Gordon said. “I don’t want to shoot movies. I don’t want to shoot commercials for Churchill Downs or Woodford Reserve. I just want to make videos that tell stories that matter.”
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He was looking for things to shoot and came up with the idea for his Stories of COVID-19 video series.
“In the beginning, I was just going out and documenting. I like to document, that’s how I process things,” said Gordon. The series kicks off with local artist Jaylin Monet Stewart, doing sidewalk chalk art by Norton Women and Children’s Hospital and Norton Children’s Hospital of healthcare workers during COVID-19. The videos also highlight a group of skaters, social media influencers, a nurse and more.
To him, the project was a great way for people to see something positive during a dark time.
“… and that was during a time where there wasn’t a lot of smiles on people’s faces, so it’s just beautiful to see humanity on display in different ways,” Gordon said.
He also started doing more videos for non-profit organizations, like Unity Runners, which was created by Gina Wickstead and Nicol Hodges on June 11 of last year.
The duo, each avid runners, began to run in downtown San Diego to spread awareness about Breonna Taylor and racial inequality. They eventually created “Run for Breonna,” where multiple runners come together to run and spread awareness about Taylor, wearing bibs that read “#RunForBreonna Justice for Breonna Taylor. The run has been held in more than 45 places in the US, Canada and Brazil.
According to Wickstead, they have raised $15,000 for the Breonna Taylor foundation and helped raise $4,000 for Until Freedom, an intersectional social justice organization rooted in the leadership of diverse people of color to address systemic and racial injustice.
The mission of the Unity Runners is to help give a voice to Black women who don’t have one. Much like Gordon’s videos, the group wants to spread awareness in their own way about social justice issues.
“That was tremendous work (Gordon) did highlighting all the people who do the Louisville group. We are really thankful for him,” Wickstead said of the videos he shot of the Louisville branch of Unity Runners. “It’s so important to keep Breonna’s name out there because she’s another person that people need to pay attention to.”
Gordon says his work differs from other videographers because of his rawness. He doesn’t like to control certain things, like telling people to look at the camera, talking with their hands or using giant microphones.
“I think sometimes things can be overproduced and you can lose some of the rawness,” Gordon said.
To watch Stories of COVID-19 and Voices of the Movement, go to bestdadmedia.com/.
Reach Features Intern Gabby Bunton at firstname.lastname@example.org.