Each week, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A little horn-tooting: Last year, the Houston Press Music Awards were thoroughly successful. Thoroughly.. Barack Obama actually tweeted that they were better than the Grammys. For real. (Not for real, though.)
A little honesty: Still, despite the amazingness, there was one section of the Houston music scene that went unrewarded: The filmmakers. [I guess that means we have to add a "Best Video" category this year - -ed.]
This year though, it appears they're intent on making absolutely sure that a Best Video category gets added. And high among the list of potential nominees is Michael Artis, whose latest video for Slim Thug's "My Car" featuring Kirko Bangz and Doughbeezy, debuted on MTV this past Sunday.
We stole a few minutes from him to ask about it, as well as Ivan Drago and, of course, Hologram Tupac. Onward.
Rocks Off: First, tell everyone everything they need to know about Michael Artis in exactly six words.
Michael Artis: Directing is in my birth chart.
RO: Second, congrats on "My Car" landing on MTV over the weekend. How many of your videos is it that've made it there now?
MA: Thank you. This is my third video that has made it to MTV.
RO: Let's say you got to re-shoot the video for any song in history. Which would you pick? Why?
MA: I wouldn't re-shoot anyone's video. I respect everyone's creative vision.
RO: How does one prepare to shoot a video? Is there a hyped-up workout regime ahead of time, like how Rocky does right before he fights Ivan Drago? That's cool, man. Is it expensive for you to keep flying to Russia?
MA: I do 25 pushups then run to set with no shirt on. [laughs] Nah, there's a lot of planning, organizing, and scheduling that takes place before the shoot date. It can get very hectic but it's an addictive rush and very satisfying when everything is complete.
RO: Who comes up with the ideas for these videos you're shooting? Is it you or the rappers? Are you ever like, "Oh, yeah, that's a really great idea rapper, but how about if you SIT THE FUCK DOWN AND LET ME DO MY JOB!?"
MA: Sometimes it's me, sometimes the artists, sometimes the treatment writers, and sometimes it's a collaboration of all of those people together. I never really have problems with the artists I work with. They value my direction and creativity.
RO: There seems to be a growing population of ace video makers in Houston these days. There's you, Boom, Danny Ocean, so on. Why is that happening? And where were you guys in the 90s?
MA: Well to start, I think of myself as a director of cinematography, not a video maker or videographer.
In the '90s, I was in middle and high school shooting videos with a Canon XL2 on mini-DVD tapes studying Joseph Khan. After I graduated high school, I started interning with Boomtown (another successful filmmaker).
I worked with Boom for a couple of years then branched out on my own. I think there's been an influx of directors recently because of the easily accessible Canon 5D. Now it's easy for anyone to go out and buy a 5D and start shooting in HD, but the talent, experience, and ambition is what separates the true directors from the rest.
RO: If they approached you and were like, "Yo, you heard about Hologram Tupac, right? We need you to shoot a video for him." Would you be with that? Or is that entirely unholy?
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MA: Due to my affiliation with "Ancient Aliens" there's no way i could say no to advancements in technology [laughs]. I would definitely shoot it.