Cudi and Brody on set. Photo by Bobby Lapointe
By now you know we're big fans of Kid Cudi and his album around these parts, so when his new video for "Pursuit Of Happiness" came out this week, we were interested to see how the Complex homie would deliver. And deliver he did. But Cudi had help in making the video as dope as it was, thanks mainly to the video's director Brody Baker.
Baker, who runs KnowMore Productions with his wife Shelly, was suggested by actor Josh Harnett (Josh/Cudi/Brody are mutual friends) and already has some high-profile directing credits like Animal Collective's "My Girls" under his belt. In this interview, Baker breaks down how the video came about, what it was like working with Cudi, and the whole debacle surrounding the unexpected leak of an unfinished version...
WATCH THE OFFICIAL VERSION OF THE VIDEO:
Interview By Joe La Puma
Complex: How did you, Cudi and Josh Hartnett link up for the video?
Brody Baker: Josh is a friend and a business partner. We're building some stuff together, and Cudi and him know each other and they were talking. Cudi wanted to do a video and he was talking, and Josh suggested me to direct, and so I met with Cudi, and we basically went from there.
Complex: What was it like working with Cudi on this project?
Brody Baker: He's really hands on, I mean he's at the top of his game. His ideas are great, and the way that he executes them are great. He's a great collaborator. He always wants to push it. It was easy working with him, to be simple about the answer. It was easy, and just a lot of fun.
Complex: How big of a fan of his were you?
Brody Baker: I was a big fan. Actually, before the video, I hadn't heard the track before, but when it was sent to me I immediately fell in love with it, and it was a big surprise. I was traveling those three weeks from the time the album dropped from the time that we met, so it was just one of those things that hadn't got to my table yet. I was a big fan of his, a big fan of Ratatat, MGMT, and all those guys, and I thought them coming together was really unique. It's really interesting what Cudi's doing.
Complex: How long was the shoot?
Brody Baker: The shoot was one day, and there was about three weeks of prep time.
Complex: Now you run a productions company with your wife right?
Brody Baker: Yes, Shelly we're married, and we run KnowMore Productions together, which is a film production company, and we do professional music videos and all that stuff. We brought in Exodus, and then Alex Orlovsky who's a pretty genius independent film producer.
Complex: Was this one of the strongest collaborative teams that you guys had?
Brody Baker: I would say yes. When you're bringing it for Cudi, you got to bring it. This song is so great, you want to serve it justice. I think this team was a fantastic team. I can't wait to do another one with them.
Complex: From what I heard from people who were in the video, the shoot was really fun...
Brody Baker: It's just the nature of the party video. You want it to be fun, because that's what it's about. I think that the team assembled a great environment to capture some truth. I was really focused on getting our shots, like I said, it was a one-day shoot, we had to do a lot in one day. It's the Jane Hotel, which is interesting, we found out it was the only other production there besides Wall Street, which is great. It wasn't like a real hot location, yet they hooked it up for us.
Complex: A lot of Cudi's friends made cameos in the video. Were you guys in it at all?
Brody Baker: No, we weren't in it at all. There was a shot that I jumped in and played the passed out dude in the party that got cut.[Laughs] Probably everybody that you guys obviously are aware of (Drake, Consequence), and then there's friends and family on both sides. There's good friends of ours, there's a lot of Cudi's old friends. There is one person that's in it that's interesting, she's in a wide party shot for a second, but it's Daphne Guinness. You can look her up, she's a true force. She just swings by and jumps in and was partying in the last shot.
Complex: Did you guys interact with Drake at all?
Brody Baker: Only to direct. He came out for about an hour, and was on the way to the airport, and swing by to hop in the video, and it came out pretty well. It turned into one of the best shots.
Complex: Now, it leaked a little early, it was supposed to launch on VEVO right?
Brody Baker: Yeah, that was the plan. It was premiering on VEVO, and we rushed to make that happen, and evidently, it leaked the night before and the leaked version spread like wildfire. It wasn't a finished version, so it was unfortunate. Whoever leaked it put the album track and not the video edit of the song, so it doesn't even sync. We're trying to get those versions down and get the official video on everybody's site. It's live at VEVO now.
Complex: How frustrating is the leak for you?
Brody Baker: It's very frustrating, obviously you want to show the world the best shoot, the best version possible. Everyone is eager, so the leak happens all the time, but unfortunately it doesn't do anybody any good in my opinion.
Complex: How did the slow-down effect come about?
Brody Baker: We wanted to do a party video, we wanted to do like a fresh take on the party video, and keep it obviously, classy, so we came up with an idea. The effect itself, that's a trade secret. [Laughs].
Complex: What other tech-y stuff went into the video?
Brody Baker: A lot of stuff in-camera. We added some subtle effects here and there that hopefully you catch on your second view. The intention was to put in little elements that would make you go "wait, what was that?" and then go back and see them.
Complex: I know it's early on, but did you guys ever talk about collaborating again?
Brody Baker: Yeah, I would love to do something again with Cudi. I think Shelly and Josh and the whole team would love to. Hopefully that happens. He's on tour. He's got his hand in so many things right now. I can't wait for the HBO 'How To Make It In Amerca' show. That's one thing about him. He's a really talented actor. Just working with him for one day, you can just tell, he's got it.
Complex: How much was the label involved in the video, it seems like Cudi really put this whole process together...
Brody Baker: Yeah, he did his thing, and the label wasn't too involved in this one. This is Cudi's video for sure.