Top of their game: veteran filmmakers Thomas Severini and Gabriel Bienczycki pay tribute to yoga in their new project
Cinema is the kind of art that requires a specific vision, attention to detail, an innate talent, and the desire to express yourself and the stories you want to share. Thomas Severini, from New Jersey, and Gabriel Bienczycki, born in Poland, understand the art of creating, directing and producing films and videos. Seasoned filmmakers at their peak, they pay homage to the ancient practice of yoga in their new project.
Filmmakers to Know
Bienczycki has always been interested in music, fine art and modern dance. He has spent much of his life working for leading companies in Europe, Canada and the United States as a dancer and choreographer. However, movement was not his only passion. He then went on to become director of photography, director and photographer.
His artistic eye led him to become artistic director of the 7 Dance Company in Philadelphia, where he translated the movement into film and photography. Currently, he does a wide variety of work, including narrative and documentary feature films, commercial campaigns, music videos and humanitarian missions.
He was director of photography for an Emmy-winning feature film Outside Iraq, feature film gangster comedy Help, and official selection Tribeca and Berlinale All day of Mardi Gras. His commitment to organic movement, his precise blocking of the stage and his understanding of the human form have placed him at the center of cinema history and successfully guided his new project with Severini.
Severini also grew up in an artists’ household, spending hours as a child in the photography studio owned by his father. Surrounding himself with this kind of creativity and talent drove him to pursue his BA in Communication at Parsons School of Design. His training, knowledge and passion led him to become a Creative Director in a large advertising agency in New York. His clients included Sony, Mark Ecko, HSN and Lipton.
Years later, his entrepreneurial passion took over and he founded a video production agency. Called Slate, the company produces premium corporate videos for companies like Dell, Microsoft, SunPower, and Airbnb. The work he has accomplished throughout his career has been recognized with several accolades, including two Webbys.
But that was not the end of his entrepreneurial energy. Because of his Interest in high-end fashion and creative design, he also co-founded two companies, Batch and KARV.
The paths of Severini and Bienczycki crossed 15 years ago thanks to a mutual friend in the dance world. Severini and his wife were looking for a photographer for their wedding. They wanted someone who digitally shot with a fresh, new feeling to capture this important day.
“Our mutual friend mentioned Gabe, who specialized in dance photography and motion capture,” says Severini. “My wife and I both fell in love with his job and knew he was the one we wanted to hire.”
The results were tremendous, so Severini hired Bienczycki to shoot a campaign for the advertising agency he worked for. “I hired Gabe on set, and not only did we get along well, but he killed him. It wasn’t just the start of our working relationship, but a long-standing friendship as well.”
They began to work together regularly on advertisements and web videos. Over time, the two joined forces, traveling to the United States and then around the world. Bienczycki and Severini each brought something unique to their duo, forming a professional team that worked perfectly in sync. Companies began to hire them in tandem.
But years of hard work and long hours on the road began to take their toll. Wanting to find a way to spend more time at home with their family, they decided to use their years of experience, expert collaboration and entrepreneurial spirit to found a new business: Real nude yoga.
A new project
People practiced yoga for over 5,000 years. The tradition originally began in India, first mentioned in ancient sacred texts called the Rig Veda. To this day, people around the world continue to enjoy these stretches and postures. Of the many forms of yoga you can participate in, perhaps the most intriguing but least understood is nude yoga.
Naked yoga is also known as Nagna yoga and “can be traced back to Naga Baba, Where Naga sadhus, an ancient Indian sect that practices[s] yoga (understood in its larger historical context as a group of physical and mental practices) as a form of Bhakti, a Hindu monastic tradition. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a vulgar practice. Rather, it provides a way to connect with your body and find a healthy balance.
Severini and Bienczycki have practiced yoga for many years. “I found it to be a fantastic marriage of mental hygiene and physical conditioning,” says Bienczycki.
They also noticed a lack of artistry and quality in the existing videos for the nude yoga community. They saw the need for a series of videos that would honor the ideology and lifestyle that comes from practicing this type of yoga.
“We felt compelled to step in and use our specific skills to bring this to life,” says Severini. “The idea was to combine our love of yoga, the human form, travel and our passion for creating videos, while allowing us to create our own schedule and have the final creative say.”
To this end, True Naked Yoga offers artful and meticulous instructional videos at various difficulty levels, with an emphasis on beauty and respect for the practice. Each pre-recorded course is not only led by a professional instructor in a beautiful, ambitious location, but is also a work of art.
Over the years, the meaning of art has changed, expanded, evolved and grown. At its core, art combines the vision, craftsmanship, talent and self-expression of the artist. Severini and Bienczycki have combined their experience, knowledge, desire and goals to create a groundbreaking film project that allows art to shine while sharing a way of life that encourages individuals to connect with their bodies and to lead a healthier life.
Posted on September 30, 2021