Interview w/ Saman Kesh


The dust has settled from the YouTube Music Awards latest efforts to realise music video’s full potential, leaving us with a handful of new favourites. Between the legends, big hitters and exciting “newbies” we catch a glimpse of the platform offered to film-makers whether you’re just starting out or are planning your first feature film.

A director who always does things differently and thus a constant WIC favourite, Saman Kesh continues to deliver. This time turning dance into a form of communication, extraterrestrials become the centre of attention with their great get-ups and dynamic dance moves. To get a better idea about the YTMAs, Saman and his Kygo video we had a little chat about who made the space suits, what he thinks of the project as a whole and how Mr. Kesh smashed through the roof in ‘Stole The Show’.

Word Is Cheap: What were your initial thoughts when you heard ‘Stole The Show’? Had you already written the extraterrestrial love story?

Saman Kesh: I grew up listening to electronic music ranging from progressive trance to guilty pop pleasures like Enya, so I’ve always had a soft spot for “fruity” melodies…The kind of music that makes you want to fly like a super hero and cry at the same time.

After visiting NASA earlier this year for research on another project, I felt a strange need to tell a cosmic themed love story. When I returned to LA, i had the track in my email and I really fell in love with it…it felt innocent and sweet…like nobody could touch you while you were listening to it.

Channeling a little bit of Spielberg’s love and respect for the unknown cosmos, I wanted to tell a story that conveys a sense of mystery, romance, and celebration of this idea. Nothing better than an Alien invasion of lovers that just want to dance 😉

Following on from twerking robots is dance your new favourite method of story-telling?

Not necessarily. Perhaps it’s subconscious. Dancing seems like the best form of expression while listening to music. Like when somebody smiles, you want to smile…same with dancing. You watch somebody dance and you want to dance too. I think that was my feeling, but It’s all guttural for me really, so i’m thinking about it retrospectively.

The roof busting scene is a marriage between 1/6 scale miniatures and Visual FX.

Are you a sci-fi fan? Where did you get your spacesuits from?

Science Fiction (or Science Reality as Sir Ridley Scott calls it) is a fun way to “make shit up.” Using the familiar and making up whatever you need to tell your story is a nice way to convey impossible ideas into realistic themes/emotions.

Our ET astronaut suits were a collaboration between myself, my costume designer and Alterian Inc. (the same people who built our Twerk-Bot and Daft Punk’s helmets). The suits looked great by the end, but they were a pain in the ass because our dancer’s crotch kept ripping every time his dance moves got too sexy.

You often display incredible technical ability within your projects, what can you tell us about the roof-busting ending?

Why thank you…I blush.

The roof busting scene is a marriage between 1/6 scale miniatures and Visual FX. We blasted the astronauts through the roof with a high pressure canon, and then shot various composites and in CG we added various elements that we needed more “control” of. The final “comet of love,” as we called it during post, was pure CG.

Having been a part of the YouTube Music Awards, what are your feelings on the project as a whole?

I think it was a fun idea. YouTube is trying to figure out the best way to celebrate music and their platform like MTV etc. I think there are elements that worked well, and some that didn’t. It’s part of the process of growing with a new medium (it’s only a little over a decade old). My generation of filmmakers are the YouTube pioneers…our success into commercials/features really spawned *and continues to grow* because of YT & Vimeo…so it’s nice to be a part of it all 🙂

Which is your favourite music video from the YTMAs?

My favorite video was FKA Twigs’. That video hypnotized me, and I found myself watching the video randomly on my spare time…haha.

Word Is Cheap

word is cheap is the site to go to for all your music video needs. A site so visually stimulating it’s already banned in North Korea. You can dance if you want to.

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