ever wanted to be an award winning video director? now’s your chance

There’s just over a week left to enter this year’s UK Music Video Awards. Here, last year’s Best Director winner Oscar Hudson, shares his tips on how to win big.

by Tom Ivin
30 July 2018, 9:55am

In 2018, music videos have never been more important. With artists no longer solely propelled by Top 40 sales, visuals have become a way for musicians to express themselves like never before; propelled to stardom by tastemakers, shareability, internet popularity, and expertly curated images.

You’ll see the best of them at the UK Music Video Awards. Held at London’s Roundhouse on 25 October, i-D will be there, dishing out the prize for Best Styling in a Video for the 5th year in a row, while a host of hotshot directors, producers and creatives from the industry battle it out to be crowned the winner.

The final deadline to enter is 7 August and, to give you some encouragement, here’s last year’s recipient of the Best Director, Oscar Hudson, with his tips on how to take home the top gong.

Start from the bottom...
The nature of how you start building an idea can vary massively, but for music videos the first step is always listening to the track. You need to get a feel for the tone of voice and lyrical themes and go from there. I have little piggy bank of ideas and concepts that I sometimes come back to and see if there might be a good fit. Often, though, you’ll be starting from scratch.

Keep your friends close…
I often work very closely with cinematographer Ruben Woodin-Dechamps and production designer Luke Moran-Morris. We don’t get to work together on absolutely everything because that’s not really how it works in the film biz. But these two have been key collaborators for me throughout every stage of my career so far and I like to work with them whenever possible.

Money doesn’t always talk...
There are so many fantastic ideas out there that can be done for next to nothing and limitation is often be a great source of inspiration. When I was starting out, it was a lack of money that made me try and put good ideas at the heart of my work. I thought if you have a strong idea, particularly one that dictates the visual style, then it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t look super slick. I still think that’s true now.

Minimise stress by planning well…
In regards to collaboration with the musicians, you get massively different levels of engagement from video to video. I‘ve done projects where I haven’t spoken to the artist at any point throughout the entire process, and others where they are very interested and creatively engaged. It shouldn’t be a battle so if it is feeling like a process of maintaining the peace that’s not a good sign.

It’s up to you to set the mood...
There are so many different types of director and there are loads of ways to be a good, but I think for anyone and everyone it should start with being a nice person and being good to the people around you. A happy and relaxed set produces better films than a stressed one.

Set a style, but don’t stick to it...
Your work should distinguish you from the others working around you, yes, but I feel slightly uncomfortable processing all that from a kind of ‘USP’ sales perspective.

Treasure every little big break...
Although it wasn’t the first time I’d be given a good opportunity, the Bonobo video and its reception felt like a turning point for me. It was the first time I’d been trusted to make something big and ambitious (and in truth, slightly risky too) that also felt like a style that was my own.

Don’t be afraid of losing streaks…
I actually had a bit of a losing run after winning the Best Director award, with various projects just not quite working out for one reason or another. But that’s just the natural ebbs and flows of being a director and the pitching game. The projects I get sent have been getting steadily bigger, but I still approach things in much the same way I always have. I think many directors kind of retire from promos after getting the Best Director award but my list of unmade ideas is still way too long for me to bow out now.

music videos
Oscar Hudson