Interview: Diwang Valdez
How did you get started directing videos?
I was thrown in the fire so to speak. Sometime in 2009 I was working with Don Cannon helping him with his digital presence, which included video content. We started doing little videos to hype some of his mixtapes. Eventually, he hosted “Trap or Die 2” by Young Jeezy and that’s when I really went from making video content to concepting, producing, and directing music videos. It was a sink or swim moment for me.
How would you describe your visual style?
I think I’m still finding my style honestly. Visually tend to gravitate towards dark and moody lighting schemes I think it’s because I tend to write more serious, dramatic treatments. If there is a dramatic angle in the song I tend to always go that route off the bat, but that’s just me.
Who are some of your creative influences?
From a film standpoint it’s your usual suspects - Mandler, Nabil, Gavras, Nava, and a few more. These guys not only are masters of film and narrative, but they also continuously challenge the status quo, which I really admire.
Who are some of your favorite artists to work with and why?
Big K.R.I.T. Easily. Dude is humble, talented, shows up on time and brings it on every take. Other clients... not so much. They usually show up late and want to leave early and still expect you to pull something out your ass and make a dope video; it just doesn’t work like that.
What is the hardest part about being in this industry?
The hardest part about being in this industry is all the egos and politics that are involved. My agenda solely consist of creating great work, all that other extra shit interrupts that process and is really exhausting.
What is your favorite video you have directed?
From a production value standpoint, it’s probably a toss up between “Riot” with 2 Chainz and “What You Mean” with Big K.R.I.T. But honestly some of my earlier work is still my favorite like “Bunch Of Rounds” with Cyhi.
What is your goal as a director?
Success to me as a director is creating compelling work that resonates with its audience. Work that makes you say, “WOW!” And you have to watch again. That kind of work doesn’t happen everyday. Unfortunately we are in this microwave world where rappers want to shoot a video to every song on their project and have them all release in a months span, great work can’t happen in that atmosphere. That’s why you really have to align yourself with clients who get it.
What advice would you give aspiring directors?
Do your homework and focus on creating truly great work. If you do that, you’ll always have a job.