Recently I had the opportunity to speak with Ashley Smith of Ashley Smith Films. I came across Ashley from his depiction video of Rick Ross ft Jay-Z “The devil is a lie.” The video was dope, from the concept to the character portrayal. From that video I visited his website and noticed there were other great videos directed and produced by Ashley, and some short films as well. Be sure to check out our Exclusive interview with Ashley below as we discuss how he got started with directing videos, how he came up with his concept for “The devil is a lie” video, and what we can expect from him in the future. You don’t want to miss this interview. Enjoy!
What’s up Ashley, how are you?
I’m well. Just living, trying to keep creative, and keep my son from banging away at this keyboard [Laughs].
I came across your work from your Rick Ross ft Jay-Z “The Devil is a lie” music video. I wish I would have come across your videos prior to that. How long have you been doing videos for and how did you get your start?
Better than never though, right? So I have been shooting music videos since 2010. My first gig came from a close friend of mine, Eternal. He manages an artist by the name of Livewire here in Brooklyn. That was my first music video gig really. It wasn’t anything great. Not so creative, more cookie cutter really. But it was my starting point. I’m a whole different beast, now. I have a narrative background which is my TRUE passion. It also gives me a different edge when it comes to the music videos. But I’m more of a movie guy. I have been doing that since 07. I actually have a short film “ANGUISH” that’s just finishing up a sound design. I’m hoping it hits the festivals pretty hard this year. IT’S REALLY QUIRKY!
You’re an artist, husband, and father, how do you find time to prioritize Art and family?
Well, its kind of crazy actually. My wife works close with me and we don’t have a baby sitter. So I walk around on set with the baby on my arm at times or sometimes my Mom comes around and she’ll be on baby detail. I swear this baby sees way too much [Laughs]. And since I work so closely with my wife I don’t have that issue of spending time because we’re always together. She has the same grind and goals as I do. And when Tyler (my son) comes of age, I’m going to make him edit the stuff we shoot [Laughs]. I’m kidding! What do you like to do in your time away from family and Art? You know, I don’t have much “ME” time these days. The art kind of consumes me. I do love binge watching TV series on Netflix. I love playing Playstation. I’m trying to get that PS4 but can not seem to catch it [Laughs]. I like working out, playing paintball, but I’m always trying to shoot something.
Other than “The Devil is a lie”, what are some other music videos or films have you filmed?
I have Anguish which is a project I’m really excited about. Then there was that Kanye West, Cold, video I did back in 2012. Then there was the Drake 5am video I did last April. Unfortunately, I got an email requesting it be taken down after 2 days. Now that video hit hard the two days it was out [Laughs]. It went viral in an hour. There is also Meticulous, that’s a tough one to watch so the view count isn’t so miraculous, but that’s like my artistic masterpiece right there. It means so much to me.
Your video concepts are very unique, but not only that, the people you feature in your videos are probably the least suspected people to be featured in the video. How do you normally come up with the concepts for your videos?
I hear a song and I think to myself, what will people not expect to see, what will slap somebody across the face when they click that play button. My concepts are frequently very “different” so they are usually a pretty hard sell. I can also get really EDGY at times too.
How has your imagination for Directing and being a Cinematographer evolved since you first began?
OMG, its leaps and bounds, bro. My first stuff sucked, I mean, it was really crappy. But that was the most important stage. Seeing how crappy it was, comparing it to the good stuff I see, being brutally honest with myself and learning what not to do. Learning my strong points and my weak points were key to getting to the stage I’m at now. I still have a long way to go, but I’m at a point where I actually enjoy watching my work and it entertains me. It used to make me feel uncomfortable and put me in a cold sweat when I watched it, hoping it was just me that wasn’t impressed. When it comes to cinematography, I’m still figuring it out. Since I’m not the strongest DP I follow simple rules; can I see everything in frame, is it too bright, does it look obviously lit and finally the cool factor, “where is the drama in this frame?” That gets me through the cinematography bits. Both, my cinematography and direction are stylistically really bold and in your face.
Has any music artist reached out to you regarding a video you filmed to their song?
You would think so, but no. My concepts have been re-created, but no artist has reached out to me. It makes more sense to take my concept, give it a budget and a branded director and see where it goes from there. But it’s okay because I’ll be branding myself this year.
What can we expect from you in the future?
This year in particular I am putting out a crap load of viral content. Hopefully I’ll make some noise. So please, just be on the lookout or subscribe to my Youtube channel. My goal this year is to try to do about two a month but it’s contingent on the songs I actually like. I check the blogs everyday for something I’m loving but I frequently come up short.
Where can our readers check out your work or inquire about your services?
My website ashleysmithfilms.com I’m an email away!
On behalf of The Bachelor Project, its been a pleasure to speak with you. Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Yes, please continue to support the Bachelor Project. I love what you’re doing, the content is fresh and it’s geared towards the fellas. Obviously I’m a fan of your video section. And finally please support Ash Innovator, tweet me @Ash_Innovator drop me a note, I’ll respond. Come to me for your music videos, short films, whatever, I’m your guy!
Thanks BP, it’s been a pleasure.
Courtesy of Ashley Smith and Dominico Maxwell