Avid Visionaries | Ashley Smith Interview

Name: Ashley Smith 
Visionary Class: Film | Director
Most Notable Mention: Way Too Cold Visual 


Bria: At what moment, did you become interested in film? 
Ash: I really took film seriously in 2006. I have been interested in it my whole life.  Even in grade school I used to write short stories and fantasize about them being screen plays.  My teachers told me I should pursue creative writing but it wasn't my time to do that. I wasn't focused.

B: Did you attend film school or was film a passion that just naturally progressed into your career?  
A: I am a Morehouse grad, first and foremost.  However when I graduated from Morehouse I decided I needed some formal education in the theory and the technicals. So it was a bit of both. Looking back now, all my real knowledge came from working experience.  School was pointless.  Maybe more useful as a segway.

B: What ignites your creative mode? 
A: Music and travel mostly ignite my creative moods. I do get a lot of inspiration from watching foreign films, most recently, short films and creative content I find on Vimeo.  Pop art does it for me as well. I frequently find myself strolling around in SOHO as I am inspired by the colorfully dressed fashion folks. I'm a huge fashion fan. You wouldn't tell by looking at me though [laughs]. 

B: You describe yourself as an innovator. What's distinct about your style of directing? 
A: I describe myself as an innovator because I frequently try to bring something different to the forefront.  Not saying that I create things that are so new but frequently, I am inspired by things that perhaps someone else has done by mistake, or something somebody has done that most people haven't seen, or find ways to do something that many people have done but do it slightly different.  Every time I film something I ask myself what can I do to make this look unique and cool at the same time. It was that thought that I used to create the look of the INNOVATOR short film.  Although, it just ended up resembling Tron [laughs]. Similar to what James Cameron is preparing to do with his new infatuation of shooting native 60 frames, he's taken a visual taboo and is going to make it a new trending standard.  That's Innovative.

B: As a director, which do you feel is more important: creative perception or public reception? 
A: I'm a movie fan. I'm not one of these guys that has everything negative to say about modern cinema and give the world props to everything shot before the 80's.  I'm not a critic. I create material based on the thought of the fan. I ask myself, would I find this entertaining? I think there is a fine line between creative perception and public reception.  Your fans will make or break you.  If nobody likes your work, what's the point?  Unless this is a hobby for you, but since this is the way I live and pay my bills, public reception is important.  Besides, who wants to be the dude that makes boring films?

B: Your interpreted visual for Kanye West's Way Too Cold single has received a raving response on the internet via blogs, social media, and even Coldplay shouted out the video on Twitter. What inspired you to create the video? And did you expect for it to be such a phenomenon? 
A: It's funny, I created the video with the intention on going viral. I was originally going to do something for Nicki Minaj's "Beez In The Trap", the idea I had for that was way better than the "Way Too Cold' concept. But Benny Boom [the director] had already shot the official video. Immediately after, my close friend Eternal came by and was jamming the Way Too Cold track.  Right then and there I knew I had to shoot something for it. I didn't expect it to do as well as it did. What's really surprising is that it can't even be viewed on a mobile device.  Imagine how well it would have done if it could have. 

B: What are your aspirations as a director, in terms of your career? 
A: My ultimate goal is to direct movies and commercials. I really want to work for Bryan Buckley's company Hungryman, other than that Radical Media produces a lot of nice content.  I'd like to be in Quentin Tarantino's good graces as I model my craft after his, I would learn a lot from him.  At some point I'd like Smith Hage Productions [film production collective] to have a large roster of talented directors and I want to produce Emmy and Academy Award winning content.

B: If there's one fact that we should all know about Ashley Smith, it is...
A: If it's one fact you all should know about Ashley Smith is I'm PASSIONATE about what I do. I'm not one of these guys that picked up a DSLR, pushed record, and started telling people I'm a filmmaker. I have built my skill from the ground up and I try to bring that skill set to every production I do. I'm all about quality, even in the YouTube age.


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