AN NRT EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
Becoming Isaac Deitz, Music Video Director: Part 4
In our final installment of this interview, Isaac talks about what's next for him, discipling future filmmakers and his preferred tools of the trade. Kevin also tells Isaac about some other directors to watch.
 


Chances are, you haven't yet heard of Isaac Deitz. He hasn't released an album. He doesn't have a record deal or an EP, and isn't even a one-hit wonder. 
 
But if you're a Christian music fan, you're well aware of his work. The 26-year-old director and filmmaker has worked with the likes of Family Force 5 and Lecrae, among others, and quickly is making a name for himself with his entertaining, out-of-the-box music videos. 

In Part 1 of this interview, NRT Founder Kevin McNeese talked with Isaac about his start in moviemaking, and being inspired by former Bleach frontman Davy Baysinger. In Part 2, he told us how bands like tobyMac, House of Heroes and Family Force 5 brought him into music video making, and in Part 3 he shared how God used a less-than-ideal music video shoot with Lecrae to teach him about humility.

In our final installment of this interview, Isaac talks about what's next for him, discipling future filmmakers and his preferred tools of the trade. Kevin also tells Isaac about some other directors to watch.

So you've had a pretty good run of videos so far. What's coming up next? What are you working on?
 
I'm doing a video for George Moss. I just did a video for him at Lee University where we shot "Wobble", so it's kind of like "Wobble 2." I'm editing that. That was a really low-budget one, but I had a lot of fun on that. 
 
What song is it?
 
"Loud." There's one point where we actually made a rental van look like a news van and we launched it. We got the rental, no-questions-asked-insurance and we jumped it over a ramp.
 
Are you serious?
 
It actually got air. It's probably a half a foot off the ground at one point.
 
 
 
No-questions-asked-insurance. I love that.
 
I got another slow-motion camera just soaring through the air. Other than that I don't have anything planned out next. I kind of just held off on a lot of things. I was waiting for "Fakin'" to come out for me to be able to hopefully get work from that.
 
I watch a lot of videos. We've got a lot coming our way and we talk to a lot of artists that make videos. Just on a side note, Jonathan Thulin's The White Room. Have you seen his video for "Bombs Away" with Rachel Lampa?
 
I haven't. I'll have to check it out. I love hearing about music video directors. What's the name?
 
It's Jonathan Thulin. He's an artist on Dream Records. "Babylon" was his first video a couple of years ago—one of the best Christian videos I've ever seen and then "Bombs Away" we premiered last month. In a couple of weeks it's got 43,000 views on the site. It's just an amazing video with Rachel Lampa.
 
I love that.
 
Now, "Cray Button" was nominated for Music Video of the Year in the first-annual WE LOVE CHRISTIAN MUSIC AWARDS. I'm a big fan of the video. "Zombie" should have been nominated, as well.
 
I love that. Seriously, thank you so much for the nomination. That meant a lot. I think that's so cool. I want to congratulate you guys for giving credit to directors, and I'm not talking just me. I think the Christian industry as a whole knows that we need Christian films out there and we need good ones.
 
Some people do film for recognition's sake alone, so they go into Hollywood to be recognized and stuff and I think if Christians start recognizing our directors and people that are on our team that make films and make good films in supporting than, then later on if they do do feature films, which is what my ultimate goal is, I want people to be able to be like, "Isaac Dietz. I want to go see his film and support it because I've been following his story."
 
I think that if we do that for a lot of artists, I think that can be really good. When I saw my name on there I thought that was really cool. Thank you.
 
I don't know if you've heard of the director Dave Myers. He's a mainstream video director. He did a ton with pop singing and then he pretty much is the director for P!nk, their go-to director. Your work reminds me a lot of his and your passion for it. I know you're a funny guy. I've seen you a lot of times, but it's just great to see that you love the Lord, too.
 
Thank you so much. I have a lot of big plans for short films this year. I'm going to Kickstart a few of them. I'm going to try and avoid it if I can and try and raise the money myself, but I have a lot of short film ideas and I want to start working my way to doing feature films and stuff because I think story is one of the biggest vehicles for message.
 
I don't think we realize how important video is in this world. Sixty-four percent of teenagers listen to their music on YouTube. A video can make a song good or bad and all these different things. Most of our generation is raised on TV to the point this is where we learn how to tie our shoes and we learn how to speak Spanish or the alphabet and stuff from TV.
 
Later on when TV and film starts telling us deeper messages and deeper rules or morals, we're going to believe it because it's taught us right when we were kids. That's why I'm doing the house project that I'm doing where I have 20 year olds come in and I try to disciple them and I try to teach them what I know in film.
 
I'm trying to connect with a lot of filmmakers and stuff like that. Christian filmmakers.

 
 
What are you calling that project?
 
I call it the "Thunderdome." It's a stupid little name. It's not like a project that has a website or anything like that, but we call the house the Thunderdome. 
 
Is it personal invites at this point? Are you accepting applications?
 
Sometimes when I do videos a lot of kids will be like, "How do I learn about film?" I love emailing them back and telling them what I know or saying, "Get this camera. This is a good starter camera. Use this program to edit." Then they'll send me their videos. I'll be like, "This is my critiques." I do that a lot.
 
Good for you. That's awesome.
 
It's been cool to see some of these kids eventually become awesome filmmakers. Some of them I see a lot of potential or sometimes I feel like they need to be trained a little bit more, like more of a  mentorship-type thing.
 
I say, "What are you doing? When do you get out of high school? Are you going to college? Are you trying to do film?" One moved from Oklahoma. One moved from Tennessee and one moved from north Georgia right now. Those are the three that are in here.
 
Now they're doing awesome projects. Nathan Mowrey, who moved in here last year from Tennessee, is doing all my behind-the-scenes videos for "Zombie" and "Cray Button" and stuff. It's just really cool to see them grow. 
 
Kyle Detman did the video for Reach. I didn't have to teach him much film, but I did teach him the business of freelancing and stuff like that, but he's a super smart, brilliant guy that could learn on his own, but I think a lot of him couldn't make the jump into making video for a living.
 
He worked at a cubicle wishing he could do that one day. I was like, "Just move in. It's lower rent because we live in the projects and we can just not have to worry about the overhead. We can worry about making films to learn and stuff like that."
 
It's been a really cool thing. I think there's a big need for good Christian filmmakers to understand not only story, but the importance of story. I think if we keep on teaching that to a lot of filmmakers and stuff, I think in 10 years we'll be able to sit back at movie theaters and eat popcorn and have these awesome movies that are really impacting and redemptive and everything like that. So I'm excited about that.
 
Last question. I forgot to ask you this, but just rattle it off real quick. I'm going to let you go geek on me for a minute where I won't understand anything that you're about to say. Talk to me about your favorite equipment.
 
A lot of people love the red camera, which is this really expensive, really high-end camera. I love it. I've never used it personally. I've been on sets with it, but it's super-expensive. Then there are all these other cameras that are super-expensive and stuff.
 
To me I've always been story first, look second. How something looks is secondary to what the message is or what's going on on the screen, the content.
 
For me a lot of the footage I've done was done on a Canon T2I and that Canon T2I has been a trooper—like a tank for me. It's a $600 camera. It broke two years ago.
 
I actually know what that is. We own the 3I.

 
You own a better camera than I do. I shot "Wobble" on it. I shot "Cray Button." Anytime there are shots that aren't super slow motion I shot on that. It's been an awesome camera. Mind you I love really good-looking stuff, like with "Fakin." I rented the camera. It's a C300 from Canon and that camera is awesome. It looks amazing, but not always do you have budgets for that. 
 
To me message is always first. With George Moss I didn't have the budget to rent a C300, but if I could I'd love to either rent a C300 or a Red more often, but with something like the T2I, I'm fine with standing in the muddy water and shooting. I can just throw it and I can just jump on the back of a monster truck and just film. That's no problem. 
 
With a Red, that limits you. You can't run and grab shots as much as I do and I think what makes me like my videos is variety and that they're always moving and stuff. I think that if I had a big time camera that would take a long time to render the footage and all that stuff. I wouldn't be able to do the shots that I do. I'm a very run-and-gun director. 
 
On "Wobble", Soul Glo Activatur's outside in the rain. In the shot he's outside in the rain and stuff like that, but what a lot of people don't know is that wasn't planned. We were inside and they said tornado warning is coming. I was like, "Really?" Solomon and I were like, "Let's go outside."
 
We ran outside and we shot all of that footage of him in that crazy story that looked awesome. The whole time I'm filming this I'm like, "This is like Batman. This is so cool." If I was renting that Red or owned that Red, there'd be no way I'd go outside in the rain with that because it's super expensive.
 
The coloring would look better on "Wobble", but it wouldn't have that shot and I think that shot tells that story way better. That's where I'm at.
 
So really the equipment these days supports the average filmmaker. You don't have to spend tons of thousands of dollars.
 
Absolutely. When kids ask, "What can I do for film?" I love being able to say, "This is what I shoot with."
 
And editing software?
 
I use Final Cut Pro 7 and I love it, but I think that's another thing where it's the end result is cool. I think the editing at this point is, again, how you cut and what clip you put before the other clip instead of what you edit it on. I think they're all different paint brushes and it's really the end result and the product that matters to me.
 
It only gets uploaded to YouTube and viewed at 320 anyway, right?
 
Yeah. That kills me. You spend a week on color correcting, not really a week, but a few days on color correcting something and then it goes up on 320 and I'm like, "No," but whatever.
 
Isaac, thanks for your time. I really hope we can continue to connect and get to know each other a little bit more and find ways to work together. We just want to support what you're doing. I appreciate you responding so quickly and taking some time with me.
 
Totally. I really do appreciate all of the support. It just means a lot.

To learn more about Isaac Deitz, check out Parts 1, 2 and 3 of this interview, or visit his website at www.tubopopcorn.com

Kevin McNeese started NRT in 2002 and has worked in the industry since 1999 in one form or another. He has been a fan of Christian music since 1991.

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