If you’ve watched and enjoyed a hip-hop music video in the last year or two you probably have director David Rousseau to thank for it.
David has come along way from working with network television to now owning his own production company CreativeSeen, a South-Florida based production company established in 2008 specializing in music videos and commercial production.
Rousseau’s directing resume includes videos for Pitbull, Lil Wayne, Akon, Lil Jon and Fat Joe just to name a few. His name started to bubble last year when he shot a string of music videosfor Lil Wayne and Cash Money Records before Lil Wayne reported to Rikers Island to complete a one year sentence for attempted gun possession. The productions garnered national coverage, including placements in Rolling Stone, MTV News and Billboard.
The Urban Daily took a few minute with Mr. Rousseau to find out how staying focused and working your way can pay off in a major way.
TUD: How did you get started in film?
David Rousseau: I always wanted to do study film since I was a kid, listening to music and watching movies was always a thrill for me as a child. I grew up on MTV and YO! MTV raps watching Michael Jackson, Biggie and Tupac videos. This is always what I wanted to do but the question was how do I get there. The passion I have for film and music is what drove me into this profession and I combined them both and did something creative.
How did you get to this point?
I was working for Viacom doing work for CBS, MTV and many more. I decided to go for it 100 percent so I decided to leave my job. Hanging with friends of mine in the industry, meeting different artists and developing relationships helped me along the way. It took years of studying film to get to this point. I met Pitbull in 2006. Pitbull and Nore were the first artist I did videos for. I started doing street videos and artists noticed I had a hunger and passion for directing.
What other areas in film are you familiar with?
I have been involved in the industry from behind the scenes for a long time. I’ve done basketball games and pre shows for The Source Awards and more on TV. I knew I had to build a bridge, which was all apart of the plan to where I am now.
What is the difference between directing for TV and directing a music video?
When working on a music video it’s all about the song. It’s about doing justice to the song, bringing the energy of the song out, capturing the artist’s lyrics. On a show you have 30 minutes to an hour to capture it but with a music video you only have about 3 min.
Tell us about your production company “CreativeSeen”
When I started Creativeseen I wanted to put together a team that could get me to that next level. I wanted people that had the same goals and my goal was to be the best production company in Miami and then take it to NY and LA. I knew when we started we wouldn’t get the big budgets but if we worked hard and do right by the artist we would. We’ve been able to meet that goal and we are looking to expand and work all over the world.
What is the process for creating music video?
Usually you will get a brief of what the artist and label are looking for. I would sit with the song on my iPod or I may go for a walk and then I come up with the best treatment. A treatment is a written script of what the video will look like. I come up with different concepts and I attach some visuals to present to the artist and label. Then once it has been chosen you work with the artist to come up with the final concept.
How do you manage an artist’s ego on the set?
As a director I say be prepared. If you are ready for the artist you won’t have those problems. If the artist senses that you are not prepared, that is when you have a problem. Most artists don’t like to have their time and money wasted. The artists are usually very busy, but if you include them and show some respect then you will rarely have a issue with artist.
How do you handle the groupies that show up to the shoots?
Groupies are everywhere. Artists are followed 24/7 by groupies even at the gas station. They are around but it doesn’t really distract anything. It has never been a issue but they are always around. Being a groupie is a full time job.
Have you had any unexpected setbacks during filming?
We have had raw film stolen one time when shooting with Lil Jon in Trinidad and people will freak out but as the director I can’t freak out. I always make sure I have a camera on standby if something happens.
What was it like working with Lil Wayne before he went to jail?
We were working with one of the biggest artists in the world going into prison so we had to make sure we got everything done. Lil Wayne made sure he got a lot done. He was so Focused. He knew what he had to do and what was in front of him but he was not gonna let anything stand in his way. You would have never thought anything was going on because he never showed it. There were nights where we shot six videos. You gotta work ten times faster and harder when working with Lil Wayne, it’s like going up against Jordan. You gotta up your game 110 percent. This was one of the highlights of 2010 for me.
Do you have any more Cash Money/Young Money videos planned?
We just finished doing a video for Jay Sean and Birdman which should be out soon.
Which artists would you like to work with the most?
The dream artist to work [would have been] Michael Jackson. He was an architect when it came to music videos. I would like to work with artists like Jay-Z, Lenny Kravits and Bon Jovi.
Where do you see your company CreativeSeen in 5 years?
TV shows, movies and more just taking it to the next level. When you put people together you must put people that are on the same level as you.
How do you see music videos evolving?
In the 80s a music video was just a blank canvas. The art form is evolving and it’s still young, but we gotta make sure it keeps growing with people who are willing to push the boundaries and look at it as an art form.