Ever wonder what makes some of these pop stars so glamorous on television and what it takes to have that presence? Everybody has. It’s not buying clothes or fancy cars like many lyrics will suggest, it’s actually hiring a team to create and maintain that look. Today’s feature is Devin Gibson, the man in charge. Gibson has worked with a diverse music clientele of corporations and individuals from rap celebrity, Lil’ Jon to renown radio personality Cherry Martinez. Gibson’s work as an accomplished Music Video Director, Branding Advisor and CEO of Clarity Image Works, is what will be picked through today for a peek into the process behind music stardom.
Tell us a little bit about your background?
Well, I grew up on Staten Island, New York and I was surrounded by the arts throughout my life. My parents introduced me to the piano at age 4 and that began my love for music. I attended LaGuardia High school for music and then later was exposed to the filmmaking medium and studied at USC for my masters in Film Studies. Those were really informative times for me, my parents were very supportive and really opened the doors for me to explore well into my teens, encouraging me to develop myself creatively and as an individual. Those principals I believe became most valuable to me when working with
Universal Music and running a Brand Development firm. I often hear artists tell the tales of how their parents would try to force or insist upon them to get into a profession that’s more promising or that would make money and all that stuff. Luckily that conflict didn’t happen surrounding my circumstances.
Let’s talk about the creative process behind music videos how do you collaborate with an artist?
Sure, Music Videos require a lot of commitment in order to make a great one, I’m a very detail orientated person and like to be well prepared. I think it’s very crucial as a director to begin with a reason for creating a music video and to test every decision against that primary reason. I believe with this understanding you and an artist automatically are on the same page, and trust me you want to be on the same page with an artist because unlike many other arts, film is a collaborative medium. Even more so regarding Music videos because not only do I need the artist to help make my vision come to life, that vision has to properly represent their image and be marketable… It’s not just about me, there’s always a much larger audience. So I like to collaborate on a very emotional level with artist, breaking down the material and becoming comfortable with it all. It takes a lot for a recording artist to make a great record and at the end of the day, they really care for that song like it’s their baby. I come from that same level of feeling. A lot of everything else I do relies on this sort of preparation to complete the experience. I know some directors work differently but, this is the place I operate from with every artist.
Do you come up with all video treatments yourself?
I’ve done production for both scenarios. Usually it’s the director’s job to write the treatment for a video and there are many reasons for this. Ultimately because, with my experience in the business, I can utilize what budget, schedules, and creative outlets we have to create something extraordinary and tell you right off the bat what is or isn’t possible . Artists are always free to come with their own ideas but, shouldn’t be married to them because the video that they have in their head ( although it may be great) may make it so that their restrictions simply can’t afford to execute it. In all restrictive cases I always prefer to write the treatment, it’s just a more pragmatic approach.
For the larger establishments, it’s a different story, an artist can present their own ideas that fit their brand and depending on if that artist is selling records and keeping the lights on, then the financing department will see to it that he or she gets what they want in their video. To tell you the truth, (from experience) it’s very rare that the artist comes up with the treatment for the video. They’ll usually just come with a feeling and trust the director to handle this part, it’s the overexcited yet, unqualified indie artist who will give you the trouble. (chuckles)
How do you get the artist to trust you as a director or advisor?
As a director, I spend as much time as I can building a relationship first, the worst thing is to get on set and take orders from someone you barley know. We go out to eat, chat on the phone, go back and forth, visit museums, we even talk about all the things we love about music videos. Then, we spend countless hours discussing the vision for the video. With this kind of foundation I believe it makes an artist trust their image in my hands because that’s what they’re doing by allowing me to film them. I have a huge responsibility to any artist I work with and that’s to represent them well and not ruin their connection to their audience. As an advisor it’s about the same process, only we are afforded much more time to get into broader goals and involvement with management.
What is a typical work day consist of for you?
waking up at 5am every day, going for a jog and burring myself in the current project I’m working on. When I have a project to do there is so much to get done, whether its meeting with my production designer to go over sketches of the set, or meeting with an artist for rehearsal. A typical work day can lead me across the country or on a theatre stage all day. When shooting is scheduled, for those days, it’s just around the clock focus and shooting.
How do you choose an artist to work with?
I feel a bit weird answering this because I know how many aspiring directors would be happy for any job offered to them. I’m simply, glad that I can pick and choose the artist I want to work with now. As long as the music speaks to me and I’m able to create to the standards expected of me, as an artist myself, I’m excited to begin. Again, filmmaking is a collaborative medium so my partnering artist has got to be in with me one thousand percent. I look for artists who are just passionate about what they do, and I still can’t believe how hard that is to find. If an artist really respects themselves, and are willing to give it all they’ve got, then that’s all I need to consider working with them. It’s demanding work and often, you’ll find that many are just unwilling to invest themselves completely… Perhaps out of fear of failure, I’m not sure.
How do you feel about the new internet phenomenon taking place now, do you feel MTV and other stations are going to disappear soon?
I feel it’s a wonderful time for recording artists and all types of content creators to really promote themselves in ways they couldn’t, back in the day. You know, I hear a lot of this talk about videos not playing on TV anymore and it’s simply not true, we still play videos on television and that’s because people still watch TV, I just placed two videos on air last week. I do believe people are merging online a lot more these days and I do see it growing but, I also see TV outlets hanging around for quite some
time. I’m very happy that sites like Vevo and YouTube exists because of the doors it opens up for exposure to the up and comer in any field so, I’m embracing it.