The Making Of "Freak" By Steve Aoki, Diplo, & Deorro With Director Ryan Staake

Posted by Doug Klinger on July 1, 2014 in Behind the Scenes

Staff Post

Last week, director Ryan Staake released the music video for “Freak” by Steve Aoki, Diplo, & Deorro, a hilarious and sexy video that at first appears to be a lot more NSFW than it actually is. We asked Ryan do go behind the scenes on the video and show us a bit of how everything came together. Ryan sent us a some photos, answers a few questions, and also shared a 3D previs of the video that is one of the weirdest things ever but also does a great job of showing what they had in mind going into production.

IMVDb: Where did the original idea for this video come from? Was it inspired by anything?

Ryan: My goal was to play off of the sexual overtness of the track and make the viewer uncomfortable for painfully long, drawn out takes. In a sense, I'm trying to recreate that feeling you get when watching a movie on a plane in an aisle seat, and there's a sex scene... You try to turn down your brightness a bit, but still you expect everyone behind you is thinking you're watching porn. Or the teenager's horror of watching a movie with their parents when there's a sex scene.

I wanted to give the viewer that sense of discomfort, then reveal that these aren't sexual scenarios, but are in fact normal everyday occurrences. Hopefully, that discomfort then turns into a warm feeling of relief, with a dash of guilt for having a dirty mind.

I'm by no means the first to play with the "sexual innuendo framing" gag in a video, but I was interested in exploring it in my own way to see how long I could hold before the punchline. Also from a censorship standpoint, I was curious to see if the imagery would be deemed sexually explicit despite the resolve showing it wasn't.

IMVDb: You've mentioned having a lot of creative freedom when working with Diplo. Was that the case on this project?

Ryan: The initial concept was approved remarkably quickly, considering there were three major DJ/producers involved. Things grew a bit complicated in the edit, as the label were requesting faster cuts, which I felt simply didn't work with the concept and footage we'd shot. In the end we reached the compromise you see in this final edit.

IMVDb: When you put together a previs, is that something that is primarily used to help convey your idea to the artist, or is it more to help you on the production side of things?

Ryan: The previs was really used primarily as a pre-production tool for myself to sketch out and plan shots. By building these simple sets in 3D, I was able to test the jokes and see if they would read, and how long I might hold them before the reveal. In most cases this was a simple matter of figuring out how wide we could frame a scenario before the actor's handjob turned into a domestic chore or whatever it might be. On set, the previs was an invaluable tool to show the actors what exactly they were going to be doing, and to break the ice a bit. Of course the fact that I couldn't find 3D models with clothes on seemed oddly appropriate given the subject matter of the video.

IMVDb: Did you have any specific goals in mind when casting this video?

Ryan: It was very important to me to stay away from casting models and "hot video babes/hunks." I wanted the cast to feel attractive for the most part, but definitely like real people we're watching in sexual acts, as it makes the joke much more funny to me. Then ultimately, it also adds some realism to the resolution of each scene to make the non-sexual reality more believable. For example, If the cereal guy was instead cast as an incredibly sexy looking babe in fishnets and heels who just happens to be seductively eating cereal in a generic looking kitchen - it just wouldn't work. What works is an older gentleman messily eating cereal in the same fishnets and heels.

Doug Klinger is the co-founder/content director of IMVDb and watches more music videos than anyone on earth. You can find him on twitter at @doug_klinger.

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