What inspires your work (I lost this q)
I did love working with Alien Ant Farm back in the day. We were like minded and had a blast making all of the videos we made. I’d say the same about the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sum 41, Nelly and Katy Perry - all artists who I’ve worked with multiple times.
Sometimes the artists you think will be your favorites don’t end up being your favorites. Not necessarily any fault of theirs, but sometimes the best of plans simply don’t work out. I worked with the Foo Fighters once and I thought it would be the most incredible experience. For a variety of reasons that are mostly my fault, it wasn’t. I do try to find the joy working with any artist, no matter how bad the experience, as I always realize I am lucky to be shooting music videos and having so much fun. I can still say I worked with the Foo Fighters which is pretty cool.
What bands do you still wish to do a vid/shoot with?
I tend towards the older acts. Dolly Parton would be one. The Rolling Stones would be another. I once got to shoot a video for Tom Jones, and it happened to be shot very close to where I grew up. My whole family came out and watched and hung with Tom. That was a special one.
What are your favorite works (of yours)?I don’t have a lone favorite. And when I hear from people what their favorite videos of mine are it always intrigues me since I have an eclectic mix of artists and styles. But…there is one video I did, that lives on in infamy and does bring a smile to my face.
It was for Enrique Iglesias and called “Don’t Turn Off The Lights”. It was at the height of his fame. And he wanted to do something completely out of the box for him and flip the script and surprise people. And I offered him something VERY different and he went for it. Everyone on his team was on board and knew what they were getting into, but then once they saw the cut, the label ultimately decided they gave their cash cow too much leeway and canned the vid. It ruined my relationship with Jimmy Iovine which was a bummer. Then, many in the industry became so curious about this big, fat, “tasteless" video that Jimmy hated…the video somehow made the rounds and was leaked to the internet. And a lot of industry types really enjoy watching the video and bring it up to me often and became a sort of cult hit. I have also since talked to Enrique about the video and we had a great chat and a good laugh.
You’ve outlasted a lot of directors: What advice would you give to younger directors today?
Don’t go into directing music videos quite honestly. I often go back to when I was in NYU Film School not quite sure of what I wanted to do with my life. Then I saw a directing reel that had Fincher, Romanek, Jonze, Gondry and Tarsem on it and I was instantly sure that is what I wanted to do. There were so few people in the entertainment industry. And barely anyone directing music videos. When you would go into a label’s office, each video commissioner had a shelf with 3/4” reels on it. You were looking at the entire industry on that shelf, maybe 50 directors max. It was so small a pool.
Now it is the opposite of that and exponentially growing worse by the minute. Its very very hard, almost impossible to make money in music videos. And you can count on one hand directors each year that earn money. Videos don’t really lead anywhere like they did in their heyday, when they led to movies and commercials.
So if I was the same young kid in film school making that decision now, I would probably create an app.
You’ve directed one movie, the LA Riot Spectacular. When will you do another?
Funny you should ask. I’m not sure if The LA Riot movie I did could truly be called a “movie". It was sort a conceptual documentary. It was made independently, unfortunately with mostly my money, and it was a humbling and horrifying experience that taught me everything not to do with a movie. I was young, ill-equipped and simply not ready. I can laugh about it now but it turned me off to movies for a long time. It also taught me a hell of a lot.
Then last year, I did a video called Highly Suspect “My Name Is Human”. The video was conceived in a 90s/00s way where the label gave me full control to basically do whatever I wanted. And I did! I’m very happy with the result. As luck would have it, a movie producer became infatuated with this video and asked me to direct a movie. From time to time I get asked to direct a movie, but typically the scripts aren’t that great. This one happened to be very promising. So I am directing it. It is a thriller called Creepers.
What keeps you inspired in this kind of dreadful time?
Heh. I realize everyone isn’t in my position, but for me, I still enjoy shooting videos. I still work very hard at it and haven’t given up on it. In fact, in some ways I appreciate doing it more because I realize there are so few things in life that are as pure fun as directing music videos. I also have young kids now so I see it through their eyes and that helps me a lot. I shot a video for Silento “Watch Me" and I became a hero to my kids and their friends. And when I say I’m working with Katy Perry, Liam Payne, Nicki Minaj, JT and so on, well…its still pretty cool. The work means something different than it did back in the day, but it still does mean something.
I wish MTV was still here and the glory days could have gone on forever. But they didn’t and that is ok. Life changes and you adapt.
Anything to plug? (This will be released in Aug)