On The Cusp, Longlist - Fashion, Personal

The Descent

Brandon Mercer

Brandon Mercer Studio

The Descent was created during strange times and, as such, a strange film was unavoidable. It sits in a grey area, an uncomfortable in-between—the same dissonant state that has encompassed much of the last four years of my life. In the beginning, I was unable to see that the story I was feverishly piecing together was my own. This film was shot a week after I almost killed myself—the result of a mind that wired me complacent in the erasure of my own self worth. A mind that bolstered countless defense mechanisms to create an anxious, depressed, and unwell person. A mind that furloughed safety in hopes of finding peace in a deathly silence. I created this story as a non-volitional means of coping, and in turn was confronted by the image of a sister and brother—one willing to fight for answers and face their demons, the other unable to fight and consumed by hopelessness: the embodiment of who I was afraid to become. I am still learning to unpack the subconscious secrets I’ve embedded in each moment as I have learned to unpack the repressed childhood trauma that led to its creation. The Descent was created during strange times. But it is times like these are worth living for and so often mark the beginning of an incredible journey.

Brandon Mercer is a director and photographer born in Memphis, Tennessee to Canadian parents. He spent his formative years in Cleveland, Ohio where he found his love for film as an actor. He is now based in Brooklyn, NY. His journey as a filmmaker began in the fashion industry—shooting for publications like W Magazine, Interview, and i-D. Through these endeavors he found passion for the art of storytelling, and the expansive, narrative driven world of filmmaking. He has since shifted focus to issues surrounding mental health and the LGBTQIA+ community. He is working on his connection to others through lived experiences and comfort in the complexities of being human.