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Director Shomi Patwary on Music Video Dreams, Nightmares and Nostalgia for Offset, Pusha T, and Ava Max
By Steve Erickson | Film & Video Magazine | March 1, 2019

Shomi Patwary has been directing music videos since 2007 under the umbrella of his Illusive Media company. Born in Bangladesh, he grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he met Pharrell and got a foot into the music industry. To me, his most impressive video is Pusha T's "If You Know You Know," which takes the reality of police harassment of African-Americans and illustrates it by turning an ordinary stop into a nightmarish scenario, with superimpositions, distorted colors, video glitches and a dog that isn't just menacing but has glowing red eyes. On the other hand, his most widely seen video, Offset and Metro Boomin's "Ric Flair Drip," turns hip-hop — and wrestling — flexing in a lighthearted direction. The video for Ava Max's current top 40 hit "Sweet But Psycho" suggests a more modest version of Lady Gaga's elaborate roleplay. Patwary's work often has a psychedelic sensibility, with stylized colors and editing. Studio Daily talked to him from his home in New Jersey.

Steve Erickson: Your video for Ava Max's "Sweet But Psycho" has a very artificial look, with saturated colors. You went in a fantasy-oriented direction.

Shomi Patwary: The whole thing is supposed to be a dream. We didn't want to make it a realistic thing. It's very open-ended. We wanted to make it artificial, because it's a pop record. If it was realistic, it would look too violent. It's twisted ideas in her head. We don't know what's real or not. In the original version, she wakes up from a dream, but I cut that out because I didn't like the take.

Erickson: There are a lot of lens flares in it. Did you use an anamorphic lens?

Patwary: That is something I regret. I wish I didn't. I like shooting on anamorphic, but it wasn't the right lens for this video. I used the Lomo (anamorphic lenses manufactured in the Soviet Union), and they're not my favorite. They're vintage lenses, and they have a really soft quality. I wasn't a fan of that. I don't like super-sharp lenses either, but I spent a lot of time rotoscoping the video and adding a sharpening filter on certain places. But if you do that on the whole thing, it looks weird.

Erickson: Your video for Maxo Kream's "Roaches" has a stylized flow but the lyrics consist of him reminiscing about very grim experiences.

Patwary: Exactly. That's his life. In hip-hop, a lot of guys glorify these things without living it. The news clips at the end are real. He grew up in that area. He's talking about his family. He's really a great storyteller. A lot of times, I make videos that aren't literal, but in this case it felt right. The song is catchy, but that can make you forget what the artist's saying, Making a video that illustrated the lyrics helped you focused on what it's saying. I shot on Cooke S4s, which are not a typical go-to lens. They have enough character without making you do too much filtration.

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Article provided by Film & Video Magazine

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