As well as celebrating the artistic achievements of some of your favourite artists, this year’s MOBO Awards are also about celebrating the unsung heroes behind-the-scenes. From concept to finished clip or track, music video directors and producers are definitely to thank for providing your soundtrack for the summer and all those hours you spent glaring at cinematic visuals on YouTube. Here, we caught up with the mastermind behind Stormzy’s MOBO-nominated video for “Big For Your Boots” – Daps. Speaking on his journey, his first big break and what advice he would share for aspiring creatives.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a music video director. Did you have a chance encounter or internship that led you to your destiny in music videos?
Initially, I was producing music videos but then I realized it wasn’t creative enough for me. Luckily, I was producing for top-notch directors so I was learning on the job. I started pitching but couldn’t book any gigs. So I turned back to music and self-directed my director's music videos… that's when I caught the eyes and ears of the right people.
Was this something that you always wanted to do?
Directing wasn’t always something I’ve always wanted to do, but being creative was. Whether that was designing trainers, making music, or acting — I just love the process of turning nothing into something. And directing fits that bill.
Early on in your career, when you were still building your portfolio and reputation, what kind of video budget were you working with? Did you have to compromise a lot during this period?
I actually didn’t shoot many low budget videos [Laughs]. The next project I worked on after self-directing my own videos had a budget of $500,000 (I was a 2nd unit director on that video). Of course, I worked on budgets that were low, but I also turned down a bunch too because I didn’t want people to get used to me as that guy.
How did you start working with Stormzy?
I met Stormzy through artist/engineer 6ix years ago. We used the same studio. Then we relinked via Instagram.
Can you give us some insight into the creative process behind putting the “Big For Your Boots” video together? Did you take the context of the song into consideration when creating the concept for the video?
For BFYB, the video concept actually doesn’t have much to do with the song. I just wanted to piece together snapshots of different parts of London life. Really wanted to show different local aspects of the city — a pub, chicken shop etc
How much input did Stormzy have regarding the creative direction of the video?
Stormzy let me do my thing on this one, but he did make it a point to include the cameos from those inspirational ladies. So it was my concept plus his inclusion of the cameos.
Yes, “Big For Your Boots” featured cameos from the likes of Julie Adenuga, Ray BLK, Maya Jama and Sophia Tassew. How do video cameos usually work and why was it so important to showcase these incredible women in the video?
Cameos can work in different ways depending on the project. Sometimes it’s the directors idea, other times it’s the label. On this occasion, it was Stormzy’s idea. It was important to showcase women in a positive light — and women that are killing it in their respective fields. Positive content and something people can look up to.
We’ve talked a little bit about what younger directors are up against. What advice would you give them? What would you tell them to prepare themselves for?
It’s simple but not easy… if that makes sense! 1) Be personable — nobody wants to be around someone moody or negative. 2) Be around the people you want to be like and make yourself an asset. Work, network, learn, ask questions, soak in information, help someone help you. 3) Always be prepared. Luck = preparation + timing. Always be ready because you never know when the perfect opportunity will present itself.