Video Chats: Andrew Hines on "Shabba" by A$AP Ferg ft. A$AP Rocky
Posted by Luke Tierney on August 21, 2013 in Interviews
Mansions are a staple, almost right of passage for rappers when partying in music videos. But making the mansion party music video your own is a daunting task, a task director Andrew Hines took on in A$AP Ferg's "Shabba" video, honing in A$AP Mob's ideas into a cohesive promo, and making something that still feels fresh in 2013. Slickness often comes from having an experienced team, and Andrew had that, all the way down to VHS specialist Gabe from Life with Uzi, who Andrew hired with his own money. We talked to Andrew about how the project developed, the Shabba Ranks cameo, and casting the models based on Ferg's specifications.
Luke: What were your goals when casting the models in this video? Were you just looking for pretty ladies, or was their something more specific you guys were looking for?
Andrew: A$AP Ferg had very specific ideas that were communicated to me in his treatment that Rocky conceived. He asked for a "hippy blond white girl laying next to me with nothing on but trap lord sox and dirty vans". On the day, the girls we got from casting were certainly very beautiful, but they didn't have that je ne sais quoi that Ferg was looking for with his original vision.
Luke: Rappers and mansions have always gone together, were you trying to put your and A$AP Mob's spin on this longstanding tradition?
Andrew: This project came to me as a lose outline of scenes and themes. There were multiple locations and it didn't have a through line, a spine to hold it all together. The location was perfect for that. The thing about the treatment was that in the middle of it there was a grand dining scene with the whole Mob at it for Rocky's verse. Starting with that scene, I worked backwards. I found a location in Yonkers, New York that I felt would be a great place, the best place, to set the video. We could take advantage of the incredible interior design of the place, and not need to bring a single item in for art department. That was a big selling point for me. I knew there would be incredible delays on the day and things we could never predict, so I wanted to be in one place where I could move room to room and build a narrative along the lines of the A$AP Mob being in Shabba's house squatting. That narrative never came through the way I had hoped for. That being said, it doesn't take away from how fun the video is, and that there is some really great imagery.
Luke: Shabba Ranks makes a rare appearance in this video, did production start with this pre-planned or did the situation develop as you got closer to filming?
Andrew: Initially after pitching Rocky and Ferg on my idea to have the house not be their own, and the real homeowner shows up, Rocky said he would like the home owner be a famous comedian cameo. As that idea didn't come into fruition, the day before the shoot I was with Ferg at his mom's place in Harlem talking about our plans. He mentioned that they were trying to reach out to Shabba about a potential cameo. It came together right in front of me, but I wasn't sure about it until I saw Shabba's entourage start arriving. he was amazing, a true legend. He brought his two sons, Ferg says it was them that really sealed the deal for the A$AP / SHABBA link up. They told him who they were.
Luke: A$AP Mob have a reputation for being rowdy, how are you able to bottle that in a music video?
Andrew: Bottling their energy in a music video is no problem at all. Getting them all on camera in the same frame, definitely comes with some long hard work and some incredible orchestration of schedules because all those guys are doing something, somewhere, they really are world wide. This is my second music video for A$AP Mob, I've been working with them over the last eight months. I knew going into the Shabba video that it was the other end of the spectrum comparing A$AP Ant's video to what was proposed for Shabba. It all started with getting connected with A$AP Yams via a friend on Twitter. Yams actually looked at my work and reached out. Two hours later I was in a hotel lobby in downtown LA talking to him and A$AP Ant about needing a video shot two days later. I listened to the track on Ant's iPhone and it was amazing. I pitched them my vision, which was very different to what they had been imagining, but I said if they let me do what I had pitched, I would direct for them. I cut everyone out of it and got a RED Epic from a friend to shoot it myself. That video is actually a bigger hit with the mob than Shabba is, but Ant's video is not out yet.
Luke: Part of the promo is filmed on a handheld recorder creating an authentic retro vibe, are the shots as candid as they feel?
Andrew: Those shots are very candid, and very real. I got the guys in the same space and set the scene but after that's there's no way to direct what comes out of it. Rocky had mentioned this idea of wanting a film crew in the house with them filming the video within the video. We both wanted that person to be Gabe of the VHS video collective 'Life With Uzi'. I really wanted to have him in the video, and took it upon myself to make sure that happened. At first it was schedule, then it was budget so I had to throw down my own cash to make it work for Gabe to be there. Once I got him there, I let him do his thing. He filmed an amazing behind the scenes doc for Ferg and played his part on screen. With the party scene I asked Gabe to get me a few specific shots, but really he needs no direction. I knew prior to shooting that I would want to cut to the VHS footage at the end of the video, but not prior to the end scene. The party scene was going to be the most frenetic and I wanted him to get pushed around in the middle of it by the whole Mob.
a$ap ferg, a$ap rocky, andrew hines, shabba, video chats
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