10 Music Video Directors Switching Up the Game
Music videos have come a long way since their inception, and the past few years has seen the format expand considerably, with surprise releases taking form in full-length visual albums of cinematic grandeur and tracks being released alongside highly imaginative and conceptual visuals.
Increasingly, we’re seeing the lines between film and music video being blurred. More artists are placing a greater importance on enhancing their tracks with the format, and capturing audiences with longer and more compelling videos. Different formats are being stitched together, analogue is being mixed with the digital, and with new technological advancements we’re seeing directors taking their ideas deeper into the experimental field.
So it’s within this exciting age of music visuals that we’ve profiled 10 up-and-coming directors switching up the game, with work ranging from live installations for Björk, neo-futurist dystopia, and high-fashion gloss twisted with a dose of weirdness.
We’ll be celebrating these directors at and& summit and festival next month in Leuven, Belgium. It’s a new event exploring health, tech and creativity. Find out more about the event here. Work by these directors will be screened at the festival’s A/V screening room and Oscar Hudson will be in conversation with Crack Magazine at the event, discussing the art form and its future.
South London-based filmmaker and photographer Bafic has a portfolio that boasts a range of in-depth, stylish clips that span the worlds of music and fashion. With an impressive clientele to match, he’s created shorts for commercial titans – such as Nikelab – and artists including Neneh Cherry, her daughter and ascendant pop sensation Mabel and rising fashion designer Kiko Kostadinov. Videos are stitched together with split four-way screens, and concepts are translated through fast-paced, evocative visuals that make for intimate, and compelling, storytelling.
Immersing viewers in northern culture, Emmerson’s works often explore themes of social disparities in different subcultures as well as visual meditations on the effects of Instagram. Delve deeper into his work, though, and you’ll find a humanistic quality to his visuals, spun around concepts of connectivity and empathy. Music is an intrinsic tie that binds his work, a lynchpin that drives his narratives forward. Case in point: an exclusive goodie from Peder Mannerfelt soundtracks his mini documentary on a bike crew in Wales, and a 400% slowed down rave track maps out his vision in the video Gannin Hyem.
With her first beginnings at the Paris-based H5 graphics studio, Fortuné cut her teeth as an art director. It’s partially her ability to seamlessly segue between different video formats that makes for compelling watching. Take, for example, Travis Scott’s Birds in the Trap, which incorporates cinematic grandeur to weave a neo-futurist, dystopian narrative to its retro offerings of one-on-one talks with fictional characters. The idiosyncratic filmmaker is one who expands upon the format of conventional music videos, boldly exploring outside the lines to show what can be achieved when rules are disregarded.
Winner of the Best New Director award at the UK Music Videos Awards, Matilda Finn is a name that, for those in the know, needs no introduction. Over the course of her portfolio, the trailblazer has firmly made her mark as a ubiquitous presence in the field of music videos, with an oeuvre ranging from the surreal, frenetic world of Danny Brown’s Lost to the tense and gripping narrative of Bicep’s standout video Aura.
Having made his directorial debut in music videos with Club Kuru’s Ribbons, the ethereal sequence demonstrates the Bristol-based director’s ability to draw from a musician’s themes and spin them into a highly imaginative realm of off-kilter angles, hazy shots and intimate portraits, submerged in sumptuously dreamy visuals. Yet in this surreal world, Dohrn maintains heart-swelling emotions that lend his ideas its universality.
Testament to the modern relevancy of the music video and the frontiers which have been injected into the format with new technology, you can only loosely call Lee Martin a music video director. According to his website, he “develop[s] websites for rock ‘n’ roll bands and get paid in sex and drugs.” What Martin does is experiential development – creating assets and online experiences that reflect the ideas of a track. Creating engaging, cutting-edge web experiences that allow fans to be a part of the story, his work signifies an interesting future for the music video in the viral age. Recently, he worked on a project for Marilyn Manson where he emailed 25,000 of his fans an email of their own home. The name of the track? WE KNOW WHERE YOU FUCKING LIVE.
Using new technologies and development opportunities to advance what we, as audiences, understand as a music video, Daito Manabe is a Tokyo-based “media artist, interaction designer, programmer, and DJ.” Manabe works both on digital projects and live installations for artists and institutions like Sonar, Björk, Nosaj Thing and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Developing immersive sensory experiences delivered through close collaboration with the artist his work uses HTML5 and other cutting-edge technological tools to create transcendent, richly imaginative visual products.
London-born Dexter Navy is one of the most exciting rising names in contemporary music video directing. With a handful of trippy, highly stylish videos for A$AP Rocky under his belt, he’s pinned down an intoxicating, loose aesthetic which incorporates both his videography and photography. Having launched his first solo photo exhibition at the age of 22, he’s a prodigious visual talent destined to create works which last.
Featuring highly in our round-up of the best music videos released in 2017, Oscar Hudson is a London director whose technical skill and imaginative directorial approach has given him an award-winning formula. Recently, he’s delivered Radiohead’s breathtakingly still video for Lift and Young Thug’s suitably disorientating and ornate video for Homie. In 2017 he took home the Best Director award at the UK Music Video Awards – recognition for his increasingly ambitious and equally enthralling works.
Glamour and sheen has long been a hallmark of iconic music videos. It’s a legacy which Sarah McColgan is continuing without compromising on originality or contemporary vision. Her profile rose considerably last year with the video for Charli XCX’s Boys which she co-directed with Charli herself. Videos for Miguel, David Guetta and Tinashe all exude a kind of high-fashion gloss but there’s a splash of weirdness across the board. Take the opening frame of her video for David Guetta and Afrojack’s Dirty Sexy Money where the track’s makers stare at the lens in unnerving latex baby masks. Moments of eccentricity smuggled into major label blockbusters.