When I called Evan Prosofsky for an interview, the Edmonton-based cinematographer was in Miami shooting a video for French electronic artist Sebastien Schuller. The 22-year-old credits his recent work on the video for Grimes’s “Oblivion” with helping him score the gig.
“It had a bit more views than normal,” he says, modestly. Today, the video has more than 1.7 million views on YouTube.
In this Q&A, Prosofsky shares his thoughts about his recent success, how YouTube hits have become currency and what it takes to make a successful music video.
Q: Did you expect your work would get this much exposure when you signed up to work with Grimes?
A: No, me and Emily [Kai Bock] the director … we made jokes about it. [Grimes’s] last video had 100,000 views at the time, we were like “wow, that’s incredible, if it could have 100,000 views” that was our goal. And I think it reached that in a day! So we were totally amazed by it.
Q: What was it like watching that counter roll forward?
A: It was really flattering, the response was really positive. But it almost drives you a bit crazy. Our last video we made had 15,000 views. Going from that to a million views…. Not that you get cocky at all, but you go a bit crazy. You wake up every day and check it, it’s like going to the candy store. You get really excited to see who’s seen it.
Q: What effect has the video had on your career?
A: Views these days are currency…. A million views really means a lot just because it gets your work out there. It’s just helped me get good jobs, I can be a bit more picky about what I get to do know.
Q: How did you get your start in cinematography?
A: My dad was a photographer, so I was always really into that. I was a skateboarder. How it works for everyone that’s a skateboarder, you start just filming your friends, and then you film yourself. Then you just want to film your skate videos. You want to document your best trick, and then all of a sudden, before you know it … you start learning about cameras and you want to make it look really professional. It just skyrockets from there.
Q: As a cinematographer, what approach do you take to your work that helps it stand out?
A: It’s just the same as always. It’s just about learning how to tell a story. On the Grimes video, I had a friendship with Claire [Boucher] beforehand. So it kind of helped. I can establish a relationship with people, and it’s not really me being a cinematographer it’s more me being younger and appreciating the music for the musicians I’m making the video for that helps create that relationship on set and helps you get a better video … on the Grimes video, we’re all close friends … you can share ideas and grow together. I feel like being a part of a younger generation, where you can actually have a dialogue with the musician, and they’re not this barrier … just having an approach of trying to become friends and be more collaborative.
Q: What was your first music video?
A: It was for a musician in Edmonton called Michael Rault. He’s a folk-y rock musician. It was just really impromptu, low budget…. That was definitely what got me and some of my friends sparked on music videos.
Q: Are there any artists in Canada you’re dying to work with?
A: I’d love to make an Arcade Fire video. That’d be fun. They are my ideal band because I could be friends with them, and then make them the video. But they’re a big band so they could throw half a million dollars at it, as opposed to $20,000 at it.
Q: Where do you see your career going?
A: I guess the dream is, I love shooting music videos, but they are training wheels for features. I’d love to shoot a feature.
Q: Aren’t you working a film about West Edmonton Mall’s waterpark?
A: I’ve been shooting it forever … once I get back from Miami I get to finish the movie. It’s premiering in Copenhagen on November 1st … I’m super stoked.
You can see more of Prosofsky’s work at his website, evanprosofsky.com
Listen: Grimes on CBC Music
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