Creative director Max Korman integrates design with comic elements
By Nicole Borgenicht
It all started at Stanford University, where Max Korman was learning about integrative storytelling in immersive technology design. He had been creating and editing projects previously, but using advanced tools for his engineering degree opened the door for Korman’s creative flight.
His friend José Serrano, who is the manager of Los Angeles-based rap/pop group Delivery Boys, brought Korman into a meeting with the band. Korman landed the music video director position by showing a short piece of his campy, skillful range using a 360 camera. Directing for Korman is never about the audience watching what he can do, but always about enjoying the band and their music.
The band has a great sound, and Delivery Boys are made up of several close friends, which made Korman’s work easier. With a background in improvisation, Korman knew how to let the guys act naturally while directing them, also adding killer directorial techniques.
In the music video “YGB Rappin All Fast” which is about delivering pizza, when the customer doesn’t answer, YGB takes a bite of a slice and heads back to the convertible with the waiting band. It works like magic, and Korman dropped the speed to half, then sped it up later to sync the sound. It’s a great shot of the guys taking off from the keyhole.
“I’m playing off Spike Jonze ‘90s Beastie Boy videos with the warped fish-eye,” Korman said. “I used a 360 camera, newer technology and the next thing in video, in the Brooklyn boy band lineage.”
Korman created a storyboard, and conceptually it was about keeping everything uniform. He hid his 360 camera in the pizza box, which is held throughout so you can see everything and it gets every shot. Much of the video is seen with a pulsing effect from an aerial view in beat with the music.
“I set up the camera on a stick with a circle composition, and only had limited locations and designs,” Korman said. “I used a lot of re-timed footage, like playing homage to Spike Jonze.” This laid out reveals Korman’s imagination and adeptness at reduction and interface.
The other music video Korman directed Delivery Boys in is “Batman.” He used animated effects to start and end the music video; however, all throughout he directed fun and silly behavior as seamlessly as improv vignettes. The style fits perfectly with Delivery Boys’ (Goldwood, YGB, Max Gelter, No Trust and Lost Boy) characterizations of their rap music.
Never swaying from the rhythm, Korman said the band was easy to direct and had fun with the scenes. Korman cut from action to design to action “simplistically” with his organizational skills. He said that utilizing monotone with a pink spotlight for the Joker and other shots are a reference to the original Adam West “Batman” series from the 1960s. Capturing past and present-day audiences, Korman and Delivery Boys are playfully dynamic in their renditions.
“The band was great to direct, they were good and trusted me, and YGB did everything naturally,” Korman said.
Korman’s other work in promotional videos has been advantageous for directing music videos, along with his own improvisational artistry. Paying homage to past styles is common in the industry, as director Quentin Tarantino often does. Perhaps like Tarantino, Korman will do a cameo as well in the future. Meanwhile, there’s another masterful detail Korman has in his toolbox. He described one technique as “calibrating performance, thinking in real time and making something delightful for people to see.”
Moving forward, Korman is most interested in “new technology to support great art-movies and projects that usher in generations of great art in stories.” A finely tuned gift of Korman’s is comedy, whether he spins a jarring scene to absurdity or further pushes a campy moment into hilarity and back again on the rhythmic ride.
The World Premiere of “Batman” and “YGB Rappin All Fast” will debut at the Dances with Films film festival at The TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on Friday, Sept. 10, at 2 p.m.
Link to screening: