August 31, 2016
We sat down with Charles West, director and business partner of Lisa Wu, to give us some insight on what actually happened with the music videos and why they were received the way they were.
On how the “Wifey/Do You Love Him?” music video came to be:
I did this one because Lisa, my best friend and my business partner, asked me to you know… she wanted to help out Countess. So It was a last minute thing to come in and basically help her out. She fired Paula and she wanted to know if I’d be interested in helping Countess out and that’s how it came to be.
On what happened on the day of shooting:
Being in television and you’re taping…we didn’t have a full day to shoot Countess’ video, number one. The public doesn’t know the breakdown of shooting a music video. There are so many components going on and you only have a certain amount of time in that location. Nobody knew where the music [recording] was and we were there from 7:00 to 11:00.
The guy who owned the place showed up at 9 am and that left us with 2 hours to get inside. The music still wasn’t there and now its 10:00 and I had to make a decision: Do I shoot Countess performing or do I get the story line out of the way? What you saw on the website [the video] was the story line. That’s really all I had time to shoot given all the complications. When she’s in the pink, truthfully we only had one pass. The restaurant had to be open at 11:30 and we had to be out by 11 and it was already 10:15.
On the tone of the music video:
Countess wanted something different and she wanted to have fun doing it. Basically, if you know Countess, that’s her. Countess is known for making these funny expressions, she’s very proud of her shape, she’s proud of the fact that she’s lost weight and she wanted to do this. She wanted to showcase that. And I think that was the reason why she fired Paula…because Paula didn’t want to do that. She didn’t want to film her like that.
On working with Countess:
To me I saw a young lady who is gifted and talented, who is beautiful, who is proud of who she is, and who she’s becoming. It was fun. Despite what the critics and viewers said, it was fun. I respect her for being bold and it was a great experience.
Thoughts on song quality:
Being in music and having produced songs, Lisa and I talked about it and we weren’t fond of the quality of the song, but giving the time frame, we had to work with what we had or not produce a video. So either way, we would have gotten backlash for producing the video or not producing the video. We figured we would put something together. We agreed that the song wasn’t mixed and mastered, but again, time wise, when you’re doing it for television you just don’t have a lot of time. The public doesn’t understand there is a fourth wall there, the [tv] cameras.
More on Countess’ vision about her new body:
She was basically saying: “You know what I’m loving me. I’m loving my new body.” I found it upsetting when I read some of the comments…if she was 125 pounds and light-skinned or whatever, they wouldn’t be making these comments. To me I embraced her. I love the fact that she said ‘hey, I’m not skinny but I’m still sexy, and I’m still beautiful.’
On the Countess video negatively affecting his brand:
Not at all. I’ve done too much. I have too much of a body of work.
On directing a music video again:
I wouldn’t do this again on television, no. Recording a music video for television is not the same as recording an actual music video in real life. You talk about having 6 hours, 2 locations, to shoot a music video versus having 15 hours and maybe 2 days to actually shoot something. And a budget. Big difference.
On future projects:
Lisa and I are producing a couple other projects, tv shows…that’s pretty much our area. We have “Nubbins & Friends” and we have two more animation projects that we’re working on in the beginning of the year. Each one has a multi-million dollar budget, the tv series…all of them will be shot big… 4k , 6 figures–close to 7 figure budgets…you know so it’s different from what we did with the video. We have a lot of big projects in the queue right now.
Final response on music video and advice for Countess:
I would say that [people] can always tell when something is not finished. That would be my response. To go in on her and the video…to me that saddens me as a person, as a human, and as a race. I don’t care what they say about the director, but at the end of the day Countess is a beautiful woman and soul.
I think she will bounce back from it. I don’t even think it’s a setback because if anything it has made her more relevant. It has…so I talked to Countess and her team and I basically said to them, ‘We had fun. Let them talk and let them do what they do. And we’ll go in and spend the time and the money that we need to do it on the level that it should be done.’ And we all agreed to that. So she’s fine, when I talked to her she was painting the house!
…And there you have it, people! Here’s a demo reel of West’s work:
TELL US: What are your thoughts now that you have more behind-the-scenes insight?