Snake charmers and fire dancers: Watch the official music video for ‘Wine Dem’ by Henry Fong

Know the tone you want to convey in each project and just keep creating.

Sydney-based director Josef J. Weber’s high-energy video, featuring snake charmers and dancers twirling fire poi, is the perfect accompaniment to Henry Wong’s explosive drum & bass track, ‘Wine Dem’.

The video was commissioned via Genero, and we are big fans! We caught up with Josef to discuss the makings of ‘Wine Dem’, and his experiences as an independent filmmaker.

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How did you first get involved with Genero? And you must be happy to have your work premiered?

I heard about Genero through a good friend of mine who highly recommended I check it out! It feels great to be commissioned and have my work premiere, especially when I am proud of what my team and I created in a short turnaround.

Tell us a bit about your film background! How did you originally break into music video directing?

I became a filmmaker when I was 14. I started out making short horror films as I am a huge fan of the genre. I came to a point where I no longer wanted to be just a horror fan; I wanted to make my own horror films! In 2011 I made my first official music video after several years of making short films and I wanted to expand my skill set as a director + I am a big music lover so the two mediums just felt like a natural fit for me.

‘Wine Dem’ is dark, mythic and enchantingly voodoo-styled. What inspired your idea for the video?

I was inspired by the ideas Henry and his manager put forward. Those ideas gave me a great building block to form a treatment. From there I researched Henry and what he had done in the past. I wanted to create a visual that represented Henry and the song but I also wanted to create a video we’ve never seen from him (or myself) previously.

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The video is visually fantastic. What gear did you use?

We used the Amira with Red Pro Lens’ and a handful of LED lights to punch in that red & green colour palette. We also used a smoke machine to create a density in the location. Basically we got creative with how we utilised the equipment!

Who were your key collaborators?

My key collaborator was Alexander Leeway who has served as Director of Photography on a handful of my most recent projects. I also called upon Alexandra Wharton to create the bold tribal makeup looks for each performer. Jessica Muir styled each performer with a handful of pieces from her accessories collection Millela Couture. All up I collaborated with twenty Sydney based creative folk throughout the course of production which was epic!

You shot during the midst of winter, and with snakes! What was the shoot like?

The snake was by far the easiest talent I’ve ever had to work with! The shoot itself was gruelling. We shot on a rooftop in the dead of night on one of the coldest winter nights on record, go figure! But all of the cast and crew were so dedicated that it made for a super fun shoot.

Do you think you have a distinctive style that defines you as a filmmaker?

I’m a big fan of pop culture and just like pop culture I’d like to think that my style as a director gives you different flavours but it maintains that commercially viable angle that can be enjoyed by a vast audience. I’d like to think that each project I do is visually loud and diverse from the next. I am attracted to a strong edit aesthetic and lots of colour combined with a strong approach to wardrobe and grade. I’d say I am most inspired by Music Video directors Francis Lawrence and Jonas Ackerlund.

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Is there any aspect to your work that you feel is particularly Australian?

I don’t typically see many aspects of my work as particularly Australian. My intention with each project is to give it an international appeal as a majority of my work comes from Europe & the U.S. Having said that, I am grateful to be able to create these videos in Australia for artists and labels that are miles away, I feel the trust they put into my treatment and team is incredible.

What were the best and most challenging parts of putting this one together?

The best part about putting this video together was seeing the most challenging parts come together successfully. We had a limited budget on a limited delivery deadline so it was a challenge to pull 20 cast and crew together on a project that had a very distinct flavour and intention behind it.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

Know the tone you want to convey in each project and just keep creating.

What’s next for you?

I just shot a video for DJ Katch which is now in post-production and that video is wildly different to ‘Wine Dem’. We shot it in this vintage gaming and bowling arcade and I can’t wait for it to come out! I also have a short horror film in the pipeline and I’m excited to get that one on a roll.

Thanks heaps to Josef for chatting to us! You can see more of his work here. Want to get started on your next filmmaking job? Check out Genero’s latest briefs.