Contrast Films bursts with high profile music videos for Spotify and Vevo
The notice concerns 48 hours in advance, if he’s lucky. The call comes, and there is little time to think, just mobilize.
It’s the logistics and the locations, then the lights, the camera, the action.
For Contrast Films boss Jordy Wax, creativity comes in the frenetic in-between moments, blossoming quickly from intuition, years of practice and the hustle and bustle of deadlines.
“You have to be able to trust your instincts a lot,” says Wax. “The key is to surround yourself with good people and delegate tasks, not internalize the whole thing.”
This light and responsive approach has brought Contrast into a collision course with a roster of star musicians, and in the last year alone the Zachary native has produced work in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Detroit, Charlotte and Las Vegas. .
It’s late afternoon on a humid Monday, and Wax is strolling through the Contrast headquarters in downtown Baton Rouge.
He just answered a call from Vevo, the leading label-sponsored music video platform with 25 billion monthly views, also his biggest customer. Vevo wants Contrast to be on top of a building in Brooklyn on Wednesday to film with platinum rapper A$AP Rocky.
“Cole [one of Wax’s three full-time employees] flies out at 6 a.m. tomorrow for location scouting,” says Wax. “We’ll need three cameras, so about six or seven guys. We don’t know if we need lighting because we don’t know exactly where we will be. And we have to find a good sofa and figure out how to mount it on a roof.
Later that day, Wax has to cancel the drone company he hired for the filming of A$AP Rocky. President Trump is due to arrive in New York, and suddenly Brooklyn is a no-fly zone.
These challenges are typical, and Wax is relaxed in his office as he walks past plush burnt-orange dividers and a giant 48-star American flag hanging above Reagan-era desk chairs and leafy vines. Sage incense burns near a large television and a stack of magazines.
“We were going for the 1980s Baptist Vacation Bible School vibe,” Wax says of the space.
It was in churches that Wax fell in love with cameras. In college, he had a youth pastor with a film background who taught him group directing, camerawork, and editing.
In 2011, Wax and his creative partner, Chase Smith, moved away from filming weddings to launch Contrast, first with a commercial for Abita Brewing Company and then a live performance series called SerialBox.
“We were begging bands to let us film them” for SerialBox, Wax says, “and put it all together just to have fun and get some great footage for our reel.”
The producers were watching. Vevo loved SerialBox and came calling.
After immediate success with Vevo’s DSCVR series in 2016, connections led Contrast to Spotify, creating music videos for its most curated playlist, Rap Caviar, Rock This and Viva Latina.
Since then, Wax has worked with St. Vincent, Lorde, Demi Lovato, Khalid, Halsey and SZA, among others.
“What I’ve learned is that you can’t assume, because they’re stars, they’re comfortable with the cameras, and they immediately get what you’re looking for,” says Wax. . “Nothing replaces communication and making the people you work with feel welcome and comfortable.”
A few years ago, Smith left Contrast, but he’s still Wax’s cinematographer on a contract basis.
“When Jordy discovered the true role of a producer, all the nuts and bolts of getting a shoot done, it was a no-brainer he was going to focus on, and his creativity took on a different shape,” says Smith. . “He makes it look like it’s easy, and it’s not.”
Wax wants Contrast to stay nimble, much like he and Smith started out.
He rents a small office in New York for Vevo and Spotify work, but he says Baton Rouge will always be home.
With Vevo’s built-in audience, every piece Contrast makes for the platform is guaranteed to have a huge audience, even after a recent deal moved all Vevo content on YouTube to a single Vevo channel.
And that A$AP Rocky video? The artist canceled the day of filming. The wax doesn’t even flash. Next up for Contrast is the launch of its new Vevo series, Lift.
“I never wanted to be the businessman who decided video was an avenue for this,” Wax says. “I got into video work to make videos. It sounds redundant, perhaps, but it’s an important distinction. This is what excites us. contrast.tv
This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of 225 magazine.