NATIONAL SWAG: CHEATS INTERVIEWS VIDEO DIRECTOR AARONISNOTCOOL – AARON VAZQUEZ
I’m very excited to post my interview with Aaron Vazquez; better known as Aaronisnotcool. I first viewed an Aaronisnotcool video before I even realized it was him. I was blown away by Blu’s video for the track, “Jesus.” At the time, I just remember thinking that video is pure Cali, pure Blu, and pure hip hop. The song was on point (Blu is pretty much always on point) but the visuals really stood out to me as a perfect complement to the vision. It’s a video that I would have love to have witnessed being made. I played it on repeat for weeks but I didn’t notice or seek out the director. It wasn’t until I saw the stop motion video for Sene’s “Footprints” that I noticed the name Aaronisnotcool. I must have showed the “Footprints” video to everyone I knew. I just loved the concept and wanted to learn more about this “not cool” director.
The best thing about living in the present is that the power of the internet leads us to the right places and it wasn’t long before I was following Aaron’s work on vimeo and a regular visitor to his tumblr page. I checked out his entire catalog (you should too) and though Aaron is a young man (24) – he has learned the trade and is only getting better. He recently dropped the video for Backboards featuring both Sene and Blu. It’s one of the best videos that I’ve seen in 2012.
I shot Aaron a note for an interview on The Cheats Movement and he graciously took some time out of his schedule to rock with it….Classic Material right here WE SEE IT!
If a person walked up to you on the street and asked you what did you do for a living – you would say?
I’d say, “I make rap videos.” I think that sounds a lot more interesting than having to modestly stumble around calling myself a filmmaker/photographer. Now, while I don’t just make rap videos, I do consider myself as director/photographer, I really enjoy the reactions to the “rap videos” answer. Most people think “rap video” and the first thing that will pop into their heads is naked girls objectifying themselves in front of guys with cash and cars. But that’s not what hip-hop videos are about anymore (at least what I considered to be the good ones).
I knew I was in love with film-making when…
I convinced my English teacher to let me make a short film about George Orwell’s 1984 instead of writing a paper. I rounded up a group of my friends and over a few weekends we shot every major scene in that book. The short turn out to be really terrible. It was my first experience trying to tell a story, the camera was horrible, and we cut it using Windows Movie Maker. Everyone laughed the whole time during the showing but we all got an A for it. I didn’t make anything else for a few more years.
I first met Blu….
In sunny Los Angeles. At the time I was the only Blu fan I knew. Nobody had heard of him. I would later find out that he had an extremely passionate and loyal fan base but at the time, living in Austin, it was really hard to come across a guy like Blu if you weren’t looking. After making the one of my first music videos, I sent him a message with a long explanation about how big of a fan I was and a link to my best work so far, Understand by M.i.
A few days passed until I got a message back, saying, “Here’s my number. When can you fly out to Cali?” I pooled all the money that I had for a ticket. I hopped on a plane a few days later. Initially I thought I was making a video for Blu, but I’m happy I didn’t at the time. I wouldn’t have been able to handle it. With Blu’s vision and spot in hip-hop I was too inexperienced at the time to do anything I would’ve been proud of. I did end up doing a music video for ScienZe featuring Versis where they are CVS employees which was so much fun. Later that year I would end up making “My Sunshine” and “Jesus∆” and those both really helped me get where I am now.
Sene’s Footprints video took me (how long) long to make. The stop-motion video concept came from?
It took Sene and I about 8 hours to make. We did the whole project in one day at his place. We had originally agreed the night before to make a montage video because I had been following Sene and The Clubhouse around for so long that I had all this great candid footage that we were going to chop. Sene is a really creative guy. He likes to build things, go outside the box, try new ideas out, so the next morning he comes up with this Stop Motion idea and I’m all for it.
Neither of us had done anything like it, we didn’t know how long nor tedious it would be. It was risky as a hip-hop video. The viewer has to listen to the words and be patient with the vision. With everything being so on-demand and instant in our culture now, we were taking a little bit of a risk with making a music video like that.
Right now I’m working on….
A few different projects with fellow director Pace Rivers. One is a music video for “Doses and Mimosas” by one of the coolest bands out, Cherub. We are shooting a short film for the cycling brand Deux North in the next couple of days. We are doing a feature on education in September. Finally, we have about 8 videos finished and on hold just waiting for those artists to say the word.
My inspiration comes from….
Everything. Most of the things I want to write about are re-creations of situations that I’ve seen in real life. Like a moment on a subway between two strangers; that’s interesting to me. Also, being on Tumblr, or other parts of the Internet, you come across something like a photo or a song that just changes the whole mood or gives me a really good idea. I’ll just start writing. The most inspirational people to me (that aren’t my parents) are Kanye West, Tina Fey, Aaron Sorkin, Christopher and Jonathan Nolan, Jerry Seinfeld, Quentin Tarantino, Louis C.K. and Nabil Elderkin.
The best advice I’ve ever received….
I remember being in New York with Sene one afternoon and not really sure what direction I was supposed to take. At the time, I was stuck being the tradition: finish college, get a “real” job and be a full time director. He just told me, “Don’t go the tradition route, I can tell that is your “plan B”. Don’t plan your life around “plan B”. It’s not going to make you happy. Take a chance on yourself.” That was really one of the biggest reason for me to take what I do seriously and moving to New York.
Best night that I’ve ever had with a camera was when…
The #2 ranked Texas Longhorns played the Kansas Jayhawks in November of ’09. A lot of great things ended that night. I made a video of the whole experience. It wasn’t amazing, but it’s very personal and it’s still my favorite video I’ve ever made.
The best city for a young person to do what I do….
is New York City. LA is too spread out.
Before I go – I want you to know…
I love soccer. I work really hard. I usually have on my backpack. I want to create something that will be loved and remembered.
Keep it locked on The Cheats Movement – MAJOR MOVES WILL BE MADE IN AUGUST! RVA- WE SEE IT!