Warren Fu is one of the best music video producers in the game right now.
He’s the brainchild behind some of the most iconic film clips of the past few years, including Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’, Mark Ronson’s ‘Bang Bang’, and The Weeknd’s ‘I Feel It Coming’.
While Fu’s retro-futuristic style has become his trademark, every one of his film clips still find a way to take you to a completely new place.
He was recently in town for Vivid’s CLIPPED music video festival so we had a chat with the great man to see what makes him tick.
There’s no secret formula
“This genre (music video clips) is just one of those art forms where anything goes and you can just have a purely aesthetic, beautiful video that has no other meaning than being beautiful and aesthetic.
And then you can have something that’s punk and subversive and conceptual and that can be powerful in a different way.
For example, I really like ‘Telephone’ by Lady Gaga and Beyonce – the editing is so perfect and powerful and exciting and there’s not really a deep meaning to that video…but it’s fun!”
His favourite video clips are…
“I’ve always loved artists like Michael Jackson because he created more than music. It was an experience. I remember vividly seeing Motown 25 as a kid and my mind exploded. The outfits, the fashion, the choreography it all just sort of melded into this perfect sort of expression.
I like when they all come together and stimulate more than one sense.
So ‘Smooth Criminal’ – the way it flows from one scene to the next in a very slick way – it’s this perfect marriage of choreography and music and camerawork – the camera’s just kind of dancing alongside with him.
Then there’s Michel Gondry on Daft Punk’s ‘Around The World’.
How he was able to break down the instrumental of the track, and in a kind of ‘Fantasia’ way, visually represent each instrument in a whimsical, abstract setting. It’s just really cool.”
His incredibly unique way of coming up with ideas
“It’s different every time – sometimes you hear it for the fist time and it pops into your head and you know.
Or sometimes an artist will have a seed of an idea and then you can build off that, and sometimes it’s just completely frustrating – you start researching, putting together images, start typing it and you feel like the biggest douche bag in the world.
When I made ‘Instant Crush’ I was struggling. But I read that the state of mind when you’re just waking up from sleep is the purest moment in your mind because you’re not quite aware enough of your insecurities and self-doubt.
Salvadore Dali used to have a spoon in his hand, and he would have his best ideas during that instant of wakng up.
So that kind of happened to me with (Daft Punk’s) ‘Instant Crush’. I remember looking at the clock, it was 4am and I was still trying to think of an idea for it and then the vision of characters from Hans Christian Anderson stories came together.
The more I thought about it, the more I realised it was a great fit for the song, it was tragic and beautiful in a way. So I have the sub-conscious, half-dream state to thank for it. ”
His advice for budding directors
“It’s knowing when to give your all.
There have been maybe three or four times in my life where I pulled an all nighter or I really believed in an idea, and I could have been lazy or negative about it but I saw this sliver of a moment to really invest into and really give my all into a project and there are times in my life where that’s really paid off. ”