Music Video Director Shane Drake and Rap Star Flo Rida Hit the Planet Hollywood Scene, Old Vegas Style
It was awesome watching MTV as a kid.
One thing that excited me more than Barbies, after school TV specials and Ghost Toast (toasted buttered bread sprinkled with sugar!) were music videos. I rocked out to Billy Idol’s “Mony Mony” and mimicked MJ’s slick dance moves from “Bad” and Janet’s “Rhythm Nation.” Music videos brought a cool, new energy to songs and still do today – I get that same excitement when I see new ones.
Imagine having that job to not only create these magical pieces, but work directly with the artists themselves. Music video director Shane Drake does just that. Drake directed more than 50 music videos and worked with a slew of musicians. Artists include Panic! At the Disco, The Almost, Gym Class Heroes, Timbaland, Keri Hilson, Paramore, Avril Lavigne, Tim McGraw and Kelly Clarkson, among others. Drake also received numerous MTV Video Music Award nominations and directed short feature films and commercials.
We got to sit down with the talented director and chat about his latest video project with rap star, Flo Rida. The two teamed up to shoot a video at Planet Hollywood, right in the heart of the Strip. But this time, it wasn’t about apple-bottom jeans and boots with the fur (fur) – for Flo’s latest music video, “How I Feel,” it’s all about snazzy tuxes and the retro style of the Rat Pack era. Drake shares more about this Las Vegas music video, along with the creative process behind his unique, coveted career.
For this upcoming Flo Rida video, what inspired the Las Vegas location, particularly Planet Hollywood?
The song itself samples a Nina Simone track that really harkens back to that era of The Rat Pack. Vegas had a different mystique about it. You had people like [Frank] Sinatra, Dean Martin and other folks really helping to get that momentum going. Planet Hollywood has a rich history and it defines a new wave of entertainment – I think it makes a good fit. It was a perfect match.
Cool! So if it’s reminiscent of Old Vegas, is Flo going to be dressed up in the retro Vegas style?
He and his crew will be dressed up in bow ties and suits. We’ll have one performance set up where Flo has his bowtie undone [and] he’ll be cruising around the hallway with a lit cigar – just very cool and debonair.
What do you love about this city personally – also from a filming perspective?
I always had a special place in my heart about Vegas. I’m from a small town and when you come to Vegas it’s kind of shocking at first, you know what I mean? It’s magnificent, eye-opening in so many ways. It’s just candy for your eyes everywhere you look. And there’s something about being out in the desert, being away from metropolitan life and coming to this oasis in the middle of nowhere that has this unique, bustling vibe all to itself. And so for me, filming here is always a real pleasure. I grew up watching movies like “Casino” and really loved when they captured the vibe of Vegas. I shot a number of videos in this town and every time I do, it’s a different vibe, a different take. So now, as Vegas continues to evolve, I think my interest in it does also. There’s a lot more resources here for a filmmaker to utilize and to tap into.
Looking at your portfolio, I’ve seen you worked with so many genres. I’m actually a huge fan of The Almost and “Southern Weather” really captured the band’s personality. So do you prefer one musical genre over another? Do you like them all?
You know, it’s funny. When I was first starting this path, I’ve already gone through a couple of career choices in my life and none of them really felt 100 percent satisfying. So when I finally came into filmmaking and had the opportunity to direct, it felt like I was home. And so it was never based on a genre, or short form or long form. It was based on the simple act of directing itself and all it entails, and the organizational efforts that go into it – leading of a crew, executing a visual, putting it out in the world and making it exist. All these are the aspects of this job that I love. I started doing rock videos because that was the only genre of videos I had connections to at the time. As my career progressed, those relationships grew and eventually I was able to get into hip-hop, country, contemporary. My love of filmmaking remained the same at heart in the midst of all those. There really isn’t a favorite as much as just the favor of doing the job of directing.
So do the musicians express their ideas? Or do you present them a vision and go with it – how does the creative process go with the artists themselves?
The creative process varies. Sometimes I’ll get a track and the artist has an inkling of an idea, but they’re not sure what to do with it. Other times, an artist will come to me with a fully flushed out idea and just want me to execute it. Other times they come with a blank slate. But I think that’s cool because it keeps things different. My level of involvement is always the same energy wise but what’s required, and to pull my own resources of imagination always varies. But even when they come to me with an idea, I still have to envision how to make it a reality. It’s still a very creative process. In all levels, it’s still very exciting and I appreciate it whatever ends up happening. I like it all.
Cool! So did Flo Rida have that idea to come to Vegas?
There are a lot of times where I would come up with an idea and I’ll send it to the artist and it’ll be just be a kismet situation where they ended up having the same sort of thoughts in their head. I heard the song and immediately thought Vegas – Flo and his boys, taking it back, super classy. When I sent that back, the response was that they were already on that same page. It’s nice when that happens – you actually feel where the artist is coming from with the song.
Do you have a favorite movie or music video that inspired you to take you where you’re at today? Is there one thing that stands out?
I remember being really, really influenced. I grew up on MTV. I was that generation. I remember watching bands like U2, which remains today one of my favorite bands, and being so inspired. I remember specifically “With or Without You” and the concept was really about the band’s expression of the song and them putting this emotional art out there and someone capturing that. I remember being inspired on the whole journey of MTV’s growth, but really being drawn in those videos where the band like really are shown to be such passionate, emotionally, outpouring artists. It’s different than what you see at a concert. A concert is very high energy. There’s people everywhere and it’s noisy and it’s a whole other experience to itself. But a music video is you alone in the quiet of your house watching this one artist do this one song in a certain way and I think if anything, this influenced me, even though it was subconsciously.
Yeah. You really have to find a way to capture their attention, and how you would do that in 4-5 minutes.
For me, that’s what really inspired me once I did become a music video director. I wanted to try and find the soul of the song, the soul of the artist, and to bring that out. Sometimes it happens through a narrative thread. Sometimes it happens through a performance. But that’s always my goal.
Stayed tuned for Flo Rida’s “How I Feel” video and keep up with Shane and his creative journey.