Challenging as it was, 2020 was a big year for Colin Read. When he was not making acclaimed videos for Glass Animals - including the definitive 'first lockdown' video for Dreamland - and Doves, …
Work & Life Q&A: Aidan Zamiri
Even with the disruption of the past six months or so, it's no exaggeration to say Aidan Zamiri has taken the British pop video-making game by storm in the past year.
In 2020 alone - and since signing to Object & Animal - he has directed videos for Gracey (in and out of lockdown), 645AR and FKA Twigs, Everyone You Know, Raye, Dream Wife, Planet 1999, and possibly a few others we haven't heard about yet.
Aidan hails from Glasgow, and studied graphic design at Central Saint Martins in London. His successful progress as a filmmaker was preceded by his breakthrough as a fashion photographer, where he has accumulated an impressive client list, from Paolina Russo to Vivienne Westwood. He's a creative who's comfortable integrating digital VFX into his work - one of his most recent magazine assignments, was shooting virtual popstar Hatsune Miku for Notion magazine - and he was named as one of British Fashion Council's New Wave Creatives in 2019.
All this, and he also has just about the coolest initials you could possibly have. So we sent Aidan our Work & Life Q&A, to find out what makes him tick - his personal A to Z...
How long have you held your current position? What were you doing before this?
I've been making videos and taking photos full time since about October 2018. Before that I'd worked at a magazine for a little while and had some other random creative roles. I was a set designer for a bit and was almost a graphic designer before I started pretending I knew how to make videos.
It's important to know the tools at your disposal so that you can be super-experimental with your ideas.
What was your first job, or first significant break in the industry?
I was lucky enough to make a hyperactive green screen video with Nike in 2018 and that job allowed me to stop working a side hustle and take on directing full time. After that, things started to snowball a bit more and I got to do more and more stuff that I never dreamed I'd be able to do.
Name one music video that inspired you to get involved in making music videos?
This isn't a music video but not a day goes by that I don't think about Lady Gaga's 2009 VMA performance of Paparazzi. You can hear the crowd audibly gasp when fake blood starts pouring from her chest and then she dangles from a wire in thigh high boots. It's perfect.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about Lady Gaga's 2009 VMA performance of Paparazzi.
Other honourable mentions are Michel Gondry x Kylie for Come Into My World, and Natalia Imbruglia's Torn by Alison Maclean.
Name one project you’ve done that was significant as a learning experience – and why?
The video we made for Dream Wife's When You Gonna Kiss Me? was hilarious. I filmed the whole thing with a camera in my mouth and it reminded me that you can do something really simple with a really tight budget and, as long as the idea is funny/stupid enough, you can make a really fun video.
What are your favourite music video-related jobs of the past year or so, and why?
Our video for Sum Bout U by 645AR & FKA Twigs was a dream. A super talented team and brilliant artists, we put a GoPro on a hula hoop, and made a sexy livecam website. A dream.
For Sum Bout U, we put a GoPro on a hula hoop, and made a sexy livecam website. A dream.
Also loved PARTY by Planet 1999. It was the band's first ever music video and we had a super tight budget but they were so chill and fun to work with and I loved what we made.
What are your favourite other jobs of the past year or so?
I take a lot of photos as well as videos and often photography helps me come up with new ideas for motion. I loved the recent photos I took of Mowalola for Native Magazine, and the ones I took of Hatsune Miku for notion - was really fun working with a non-human popstar.
Also shot all of Gracey's single artworks and promo pics which was really fun as we worked on her videos as well so we really got to build a whole world together.
What kind of work would you like to be doing in future?
I like stuff that's funny and would love to make more weird/clever/funny stuff. I love music videos and feel like I'll (hopefully) always be making them, and also hope to always be making fashion photos/videos. it could be fun to try making something narrative in the future. But for now I'm happy to stick to three-minute movies starring popstars.
I love music videos and feel like I'll hopefully always be making them.
What advice would you give someone entering your field?
I would definitely tell anyone starting out to learn as much technical stuff as they can. I think it's really important to know what tools you have at your disposal so that you can be super-experimental with your ideas.
When you’re not working, what do you like to spend time doing?
I do a LOT of internet and do a bunch of research on haunted stuff, and play video games a lot. My life is very screen-based.
Tell us something that we don’t know about you...
I recently started wearing sunscreen every day. So I'm into wellness now I guess.
In Canada they have thrift stores like supermarkets. We filled suitcases up with clothes and created new identities.
Where did you go on your last holiday (or vacation)?
I was in Toronto over Christmas with my girlfriend as that's where she's from. Whenever we go to Canada we invent completely new looks for ourselves because they have thrift stores the size of supermarkets. We fill suitcases up with clothes and craft totally new identities every trip.
I also went to Stonehenge for my birthday last year. Big fan of witches.
And where would you love to visit?
I wanna see more of the UK - I've heard that Cornwall is nice.
What are your favourite currently-running TV shows?
It's not running anymore, but Scream Queens is a perfect show.
What’s the best movie (or movies) you’ve seen recently?
I watched Twilight for the first time [recently] and it's actually so good. And the soundtrack slaps.
What are your favourite music videos by other people in the past year?
Shygirl's self-directed video for BB. Everything The Rest have done with Slowthai has been brilliant. Bedroom projects' video for Beabadoobee's Care.
Also 070 Shake's video for Nice To Have by Noah Lee was so good it made me depressed. It was released over a year ago but it needs a mention.
Favourite music artist(s), and favourite gig(s) in the past year?
I will always love Lana Del Rey. Based my entire personality off of her first three albums. And I saw Caroline Polachek perform in a church just before lockdown, and felt like I was levitating.
Work/Life balance? I hate this question...
What’s your favourite political or charitable cause, and why?
SWARM, Lysistrata and ELSC are amazing organisations who are challenging public attitudes, tackling stigma, and fighting for rights and protections for sex workers. They’re providing direct financial support to strippers and sex workers who face regularly face dangerous and unstable working conditions and have been particularly hurt by COVID-19.
Best recent purchase?
We just bought a stunning 5-arm floor lamp. It's got a few bumps on it so we got it cheap as well. Also bought some pumpkin gnocchi [the other day] and it was one of the best meals I've ever had.
Work & Life - balance/ imbalance out of five (1 for imbalance; 5 for balance)?
I hate this question. Probably 1, because sometimes I listen to podcasts or go out for lunch, but other than that I'm working.
• Aidan Zamiri is represented by Object & Animal, on both their directing and photography rosters
Featured in this interview
Founder/MDs Jamie Gamache and Connor O'Hara explain how Lowkey Films has quickly become a force to be reckoned with in UK music videos.
As the main man for music videos at FAMILIA in London for the past two years, Ryan Morgan has been building on the company's well-known strengths.
Connor Coolbear joined the colour team at Electric Theatre Collective in 2018 and has been making big strides ever since. His grading of music videos - his credits include videos for Slowthai, …
Martyn Thomas directs an impressive animated promo for Dutch DJ and producer Sander van Dijck …
Samy Mosher's second video for singer-songwriter Emmit Fenn, following the poignant Far From Here, …
Souvid Datta presents Episode 2 of the Silent Spaces series, following last month's Messengers.
George Moore and Jack Pell bring the retro vibes in his animated promo for David Guez.
Photographer Lillie Eiger directs her debut music video for Phoebe Green's IDK.
A deserted South London plays host to Wyldest vocalist Zoe Mead's sleepwalking, in Mark Van …