Interview: Derek Pike

It started with an interview with hip hop DJ Cza about his directing debut with Sona One’s ‘HUH’ video, which he mentions Derek Pike as one of his favourite video music directors. Derek is only 22 and is an established director and photographer from New York City, which began with snowboard and skateboard videos in the beginning of his career. A few days after the interview with DJ Cza was published, Derek Pike’s publicist contacted JUICE through that interview to find out if we wanted an interview with the man himself. Of course! Who better to interview the guy that had worked on some amazing hip hop videos but DJ Cza himself. We linked them up and here’s DJ Cza’s interview with the music video director  Derek Pike, who is currently working on a Def Jam/Serato 25th Anniversary commercial as mentioned on his website. Nice!

When did you decide on being a video director?
I actually didn’t really get into film-making until I was about 16 years old and a junior in high school. I took a class called digital media and had a great teacher who taught me a lot. I then went on to NYU film school, and it was there that I really became interested in music videos and found that it would be a great stepping-stone to a career in feature films.

What inspires you to direct?
I’ve always been interested in creating, when I was younger I used to draw a lot and tell stories with my little cartoon drawings. As I got older and more mature I grew out of that, I don’t even like to watch cartoons anymore. I feel like being a director and telling stories with human beings is the adult version of what I used to do.

How long does it take to finish a video and what was the creative process like?
This usually depends on the client. Sometimes a label will get in touch and say we need an idea for a video by tonight, and we want it shot and edited by the end of the week. And sometimes I have a week to turn in the treatment, a couple days to shoot, and a month on the edit. I still have videos I did months ago that have not been released yet. In a perfect world I would like to have a couple days on the treatment so I can really come up with a unique idea for the video then a day to shoot and about a week to work on the edit.

What’s your weapon of choice?
I guess this all depends on the budget, ideally I’d always like to shoot on film, but the RED camera and the Canon 5D/7D’s are usually more realistic. However I am a strong believer that it’s not about the camera, and instead the concept and the man behind it.

What was it like working with big names such as Raekwon, Havoc and Saigon?
It’s always great to work with artists who have been around so long, and get so much respect in this industry. Working with these “big names” has also given me a lot of exposure and in a sense legitimized myself as a video director.

Which artists or musicians would you like to work with next?
I am mostly known for hip-hop music videos and although I would love to work with guys like Jay-Z, Kanye West, or Drake, I would definitely like to also work with artists in other genres such as John Mayer, MGMT, even Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber! I can come up with original video ideas for anyone.

Which is your favorite video so far?
Every video I do I feel like I get better, so the most recent video I do tends to be my favorite. I think one of my latest videos that I just shot called “One for the Money” by Thee Tom Hardy featuring Donnis might be my favorite when its complete. I usually don’t like this question because I don’t want any of my clients to feel left out, so I generally just say this…. my favorite video is always my next video.

Have you ventured into short films or even a movie?
Yes I have directed a few short films. I actually write too, so I am working on a couple of feature films as well. My goal is to be directing movies by the age of 25.

Do you have other interests apart from video, photography and snowboarding?
I grew up playing soccer my whole life, and still love to play. I actually made the NYU soccer team, but practices conflicted with my classes and I was there to get an education, not to play soccer, so the decision was made.

You are young and have achieved so much this past couple of years, what are your future plans?
I of course plan to keep on shooting more music videos, however I would like to start to turn my focus on commercials. I am also looking to get into the TV industry, maybe direct some television shows. And of course finish up some of my feature scripts.

Thank you for your time. Any message to up and coming video or photographers out there?
Yes, just keep on shooting. Shoot as much as you can, you will learn all you need to know by doing and by having lots of experience on set. If you have a favorite director, study their work, and don’t be afraid to sometimes incorporate their techniques in your own work, just somehow make it your own, because if you want to get noticed in this industry you need to stand out amongst your peers. And if anyone has any other questions for me the best way to get a hold of me is through my twitter account twitter.com/derekpike. And thanks to JUICE magazine, and DJ Cza for the interview!

For more on Derek Pike, check out his website at www.derekpike.com. Don’t forget to follow DJ Cza too at twitter.com/djcza.

Image Collin Avery

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