Vivid Ideas: the guy directing videos for The Weeknd, Daft Punk & The Strokes
Hey, Warren Fu
Warren Fu's CV reads like every music nerd's ultimate fantasy. The director/designer/artist has created low-fi-meets-sci-fi videos for Daft Punk, The Weeknd, Snoop Dogg, Pharrell Williams, The Strokes, HAIM, The Killers, Depeche Mode, Weezer, Mark Ronson, Julian Casablancas... even the late R&B queen Aaliyah. After a stint at Lucasfilm (yeah, that other supernerd mecca), Fu cut his teeth designing album covers and now happily resides in music video land.
You've worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry. Have there been any special artist collaborations that stick out in your mind?
Definitely The Strokes and Daft Punk. Julian Casablancas and I have worked together for over 10 years now, and I like to think that we've both learned a lot from each other in all our collaborations, and have grown as artists. Daft Punk and their team are on a very similar wavelength and have a lot of overlap in our taste.
I could sense that there was going to be a nice creative connection if I introduced Julian to Daft Punk, so when they made the song 'Instant Crush' together it just felt right... like it was meant to be.
I'm sure your videos are like children - each unique in your own way. But if you could pick a top 5 what would they be?
Jeff Lynn's ELO - 'When I Was A Boy'
Daft Punk – ‘Instant Crush’
Mark Ronson - 'Bang Bang Bang'
Depeche Mode - 'Soothe My Soul'
Haim - 'If I Could Change Your Mind'
Has there ever been any music video concept that was near impossible to execute? Did you ever think you might not make it work?
'Human Sadness' by The Voidz was definitely a challenge. The song is 11 minutes long and they wanted to have multiple characters and multiple scenes over various time periods. We had some initial ideas to reach out to other director friends like Nabil, Roman Coppola and Hiro Murai to each have them take on a different sections of the video... sort of like the movie Four Rooms. But I think in the end it would have been a logistically too complicated to pull off with our circumstances. I would still love to do a multi-director mega-video one day.
How did you get into what you're doing? I read that you studied economics...
Even though I didn't really have any formal training I guess you could say I've always been into art ever since I was 4 years old. I guess you could say a loose order of my art phases are as follows: drawing, painting, graffiti, film concept art, album covers and now directing. Directing feels like the culmination of all my life experiences funnelled into a very broad and challenging art form.
You once worked at Lucasfilm - what was that experience like?
It was like film school for me since I didn't go to art or film school. I learned so much from all the different departments there. How miniature models and sets are built, shooting those sets, critiquing dailies (rushes), designing characters and environments, storyboarding and even bit of graphic design. It was like boot camp for filmmaking, but also fun.
If there was one music video you wish you'd directed - what would it be?
Elvis Presley - 'Jailhouse Rock'
I'm guessing you grew up in the MTV era of watching music videos on TV and now everything is shared via the internet. Does the changed medium (and knowledge you're communicating to potentially billions of people) affect your creative process?
Well videos are just as popular (if not more) than they ever been. The main difference is that people's attention spans are shorter because they can click somewhere else if they get bored. But I try not to let that affect my creative process too much. I tend to just make things that I personally would love to see.
Lastly, are Daft Punk as elusive as they seem?
I'm not at liberty to discuss!
Learn more about Warren's creative process and his role in the CLIPPED Music Video Festival below:
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