Film School: The Music Videos of Hiro Murai

Childish Gambino 'This Is America' Childish Gambino 'This Is America'

The award-winning director of Atlanta talks about his best-known video clips.

We’ve collected the music videos director Hiro Murai breaks down for GQ:

… and which he discusses further with Pitchfork:

Suggesting the “scandalous and grotesque” in Bloc Party – ‘Signs’:

“Getting spectacle out of camera effects and lighting effects” in B.o.B – ‘Airplanes’:

Drawing “inspiration from Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil” for its lighting, and “leaving a 16 year old kid hanging upside down in a parking lot” whose “mumbly, drawn-out cadence” felt, to Murai, best personified by the frog seen in Earl Sweatshirt – ‘Chum’:

“You have to do the math… and you really don’t know until you put it all together” to create a giant Annie Clark in St Vincent – ‘Cheerleader’:

Echoing scenes from sci-fi-horror films like They Live and Videodrome, but cut up and rearranged so that the viewer might “see how all those sequences feel cut together without any sort of narrative context” in Friends – ‘Mind Control’:

Portraying the director’s own “childhood fantasies, but with a darker tinge” in The Shins – ‘It’s Only Life’:

“Shooting the same shot over and over and over and over again” in Childish Gambino – ‘Sweatpants’:

On working with dancers, in this case with an “evil Singing in the Rain” concept, in Massive Attack – ‘Take It There’:

Working with dancers again – this time capturing “old school indie hop dance routines, but in a very modern, bleak context” in Flying Lotus – ‘Never Catch Me’:

On the impact of the iconic Childish Gambino – ‘This Is America’:

Further Viewing

Hiro Murai’s fascinating breakdown of one of the most unsettling episodes of Atlanta – part of Vanity Fair‘s ‘Notes on a Scene’ series:

Hiro Murai also directed the visuals for Frank Ocean‘s live performance at the Grammy Awards

While the final performance suffered from (technical?) problems, this rehearsal footage shows the setup for which the visuals were designed: