Directors to Watch 2008: Mixtape Club

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From left: Mixtape Club's Jesse Casey, Michelle Higa and Chris Smith
From left: Mixtape Club's Jesse Casey, Michelle Higa and Chris Smith
With a name that would make John Cusack proud, Brooklyn-based directing collective Mixtape Club has quietly made a name for itself with its quirky animated music videos for established acts including My Morning Jacket, TV on the Radio and the late J Dilla. Comprised of Chris Smith, Jesse Casey, and Michelle Higa, the threesome found each other through mutual interests in music, computer science and semiotics while at Brown University. "We formed like Voltron," jokes Higa.

While Mixtape Club has slowly moved into commercial work, creating viral spots for Showtime series The Tudors and vignettes for Nike/Foot Locker, Smith says the group's creative foundation rests in clips. "It's our calling card. We generally do the commercial work to support ourselves and pay the bills; we do music videos to produce something and put everything we have into it and really challenge ourselves. It pushes our limits and helps us get other work."

The strategy seems to be working, as Mixtape Club's efforts have taken them to the U.K., where they've recently finished a Vodafone campaign for BBH, London. "The writing of the idea, the developing and doing the animatics is a really important stage for all of us," explains Higa of the crew's process. "If everyone's on the same page, then we know it's going to work."

Read about Jesper Kouthoofd, another of our 2008 Directors to Watch.

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