With an influx of directors claiming their stake in the digital age era, Colin Tilley is one of the video directors taking the lead. The Berkley, CA native, who broke through with Chris Brown's "Dueces," has won multiple awards just this year, including 2011 MTV VMA's Best Male Video for Justin Bieber's "You Smile" and 2011 BET Video of the Year for Brown's "Look At Me Now." The industry heavyweight has directed videos for Wiz Khalifa ("No Sleep") Lil Wayne ("John"), Melanie Fiona ("Gone and Never Coming Back," "4 A.M."), and more in just recent months.
As busy as this year has been for Tilley, 2012 will prove to be as promising if not more for the video director as he ventures into full-length feature films. Tilley took time to speak to Billboard.com's The Juice on his film projects, upcoming video for 50 Cent's new single, working with Breezy for his R&B/Hip-Hop Songs No. 1 "Look At Me Now," and leaks.
You've been moving pretty fast lately.
It's the time for sleepless nights. If I'm not [working] on a project, traveling or directing, I'm in the edit room cutting because I still love to cut all my projects myself.
What have been some of your favorite moments on set?
I'm about creating new environments with my imagination. Everyone that actually lets me create what I've been trying to create, that's pretty much my favorite moment. To name a few, Chris Brown "Look At Me Now" to the Chris Brown and Justin Bieber "Next 2 You" video with the world falling apart. Then [there's] this new 50 Cent one I just did that's about to drop in about a week or so. It's called "Girls Go Wild" with Jeremih. It's "Down On Me" on crack; it's definitely crazy.
It's good you guys linked back up.
Yeah, we linked back up and it's the first single from 50's album. It should be pretty crazy, man.
How different would your work be if this was the '90s?
I feel like everything in the '90s was the shit; from the music to the kind of money they were spending on videos. But at the same time, I feel like my vision would still be the same. We'd have a little more money [then] to be working with, but you can always have more money. It's about being creative. I'm definitely pretty influenced by the '90s right now, as far as just my influences, because I don't get inspired by much else that I see out these days.
As far as other directors?
Not even other directors. I don't really get inspired by many other things so I have to go back to the '90s to draw my inspiration. In the '90s, things were really awesome because there [was] so much going on. I don't know what was in their food that was bringing on all these cool visions with everything. From the music. the way that people dressed to the energy. [It] was completely different [and] that's what I'm trying to bring it back to.
I think when you see this new 50 Cent video, you'll definitely see some inspiration from the '90s. My whole goal is to get people feeling good again when they watch music videos; make it an experience.
The video for Chris Brown's "Look At Me Now" has that feel to it.
That was the beautiful thing about "Look At Me Now." Exactly how it looks in the video is how it wagon set. On set it was so much fun, everybody was vibing out the entire day. The energy between each of the artists when they were on screen together was crazy. When Busta [Rhymes] was spitting and Chris Brown was next to [him], that was my first time I'd heard Busta spit his verse in the first place. I was watching on camera like, 'Oh my God, this is crazy!' The way Chris would hit the adlibs was just from the energy in the room.
Switching up the subject a bit, how do you battle with videos leaking prematurely?
I mean, videos leak and it sucks but it's just about protecting yourself. I don't even send videos out to clients anymore. I'll just have them come in to the edit studio and check out the cut before we do all the finishing touches. It's just not worth it anymore. Hackers are crazy and they'll find every single way they can. It spoils the fun.
I hear you're getting into films. Are we talking short films like the Justin Bieber's "Next 2 You" video or are you trying to jump into film and movie directing?
It's definitely full-length features. We definitely got a couple projects in development right now. We have a couple scripts in-house that we're going to start going full throttle on and there's a couple even bigger projects that I actually can't even speak on for another week or two. It's all exciting.
What else do you have in the works? You're working with Machine Gun Kelly's video for "Stereo," right?
Yeah, that should be dropping in the next couple days as well. I think it's going to be fire too. Machine Gun Kelly is really a dope ass artist. He's going to be the next to blow. He's really got the '90s feel too. He's talking about partying, having fun and raging. It's really cool to see that kind of energy from such a young personality.