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I thought I had only just become familiar with Travis Kopach’s work after seeing the new AFI video for “Beautiful Thieves”. It wasn’t until I checked his site that I realized he had also directed Panic! At The Disco’s “Lying is the most fun…”, another stand-alone music video that is instantly recognizable.
Travis discusses life lessons, skateboarding, how the ‘fish tank’ idea was born, the friendliness of AFI, the music video industry and everything in between.
Great read and a great guy, definitely check out his work. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more great things to come from Mr. Kopach.
As you've previously stated, everything started from your love of music and skate culture. Do you still get a chance to film skate videos? Is this something you think you'll expand upon in the future?
I’d like to do an intro to a Skate Video somewhere down the line, but it would have to be something really unique. Spike has really killed it with the Girl videos and Alien Workshop has got the “Art Film” skate video down to a science. So it would have to be something really special for me to take it on…
As a side note… I’m actually just about to set up a board. Venice Park.
As far as influences go, can you name a few people that inspired you to get started in this business?
I love the Sam Bayer videos from the 90’s - I’m Only Happy When It Rains, Bullets With Butterfly Wings, Teen Spirit… They were so dark, yet so beautiful. They never beat you over the head, but you always got it and you always remembered the videos.
I think it was the 90’s in general is what made me fall in love with Music Videos. People really pushed it then. Smashing Pumpkins “Disarm”, when is the last time you saw something like that? It’s been a while and that is unfortunate. There needs to be more art in Music Videos. There needs to be more art in general.There needs to be a ban on video games. There also needs to be a ban/recall on people who think the “Gamer” was a good idea for a movie.
As with any art form, there are obviously many generic ways of making a music video. What you did for 'Lying is the most fun...' by Panic! At the Disco is definitely a stand alone visual and a video that is both interesting and unique, how did the 'fish tank' idea come about? Did the band have any involvement?
I’m not sure where the idea came from. I think I pitched it for Staind but ultimately ended up using it for Panic. It was an idea that was in my back pocket for a really long time, much like the “Naked Lunch” idea for the Thursday Video. It’s hard to pitch out their ideas, People are afraid.
Really, at the end of the day it’s just a love story. These people need water to survive and when the girl finds her boyfriend bleeding water and dead in the middle of the street she flashes back through their relationship and ultimately dies of heartbreak.The only way the couple will survive, the only way they will be together again, is if they are submerged in water, which is the ocean, which is a Sea of endless possibilities. A metaphor for getting back together again and starting over.
I’m pretty sure my lack of steady female relationships is due to thoughts like this.
If you could make a video for any song, current or past, what would it be?
That’s a tough question man. I really like Music, I don’t think it’s as much as what song it would it be, as when would it be. Music Video budgets are struggling these days.
I would have liked to make a video 10-15 years ago. I want to see the million dollar budgets of the past. I want to see how it was spent. I want to fly people in on helicopters and I want to sport a jerry curl.
What do you think has been your most exciting project to date? Are there any bands you where previously a fan of that you've had a chance to work with through your art?
They are all exciting man. From shooting on a aircraft carrier to building a freestanding plane out of plexiglass to killing people in a mansion and attacking Geoff with a giant cockroach. Everything is always new and challenging. I was always a Thursday fan, Full Collapses was a CD in my car when I was younger, Shooting the Pope Brothers ala the Koufax video was huge as well, Four Minute Mile was the album of my High School Years “Oh Amy Don’t Hate Me”.
As a long time AFI fan, I find the new video for 'Beautiful Thieves' to be one of their most exciting visuals to date. It's clean, sharp and takes the band into a whole new direction. Can you expand a little on the process of working with them?
They are pretty much the nicest, most professional band you will ever meet. Davey came up with the idea. It was kind of like “What if we are at a party with all of these beautiful people/celebrities … and we poison them?”
I took Davey’s idea and ran with it. La Dolce Vita was referenced a lot on my end for the look as it’s one of my favourite movies and it’s all where the term ‘paparazzi’ was coined. We’re killing celebrities, might as well start from the invention of the celebrity chasing term.
Davey was great at taking direction. We shoot the entire video in 14hrs including the performance. It was a whirlwind experience but amazing at the same time. I really can’t say enough nice things about the guys, their management, the record label and the crew that helped bring it together. This is a big Internet thank you.
You cover a range of music styles, to compare say, the Thursday video for 'At this Velocity' with 3Oh!3's 'Don't trust me' it's clear that theres a difference musically but your video style stays prominent and is successful in both genres. Do you have any preference in music when shooting a video? Are some easier to realize than others?
Sometimes you listen to a song and you have an idea within minutes other times it takes me days. I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason so I try not to stress it if I don’t have a good idea, there are some things in life you can’t force… Ideas are one of them.
I grew up on Indy Rock, Braid, Hot Water Music, The Get Up Kids, but I also love The Boss & Fiona Apple. My musical taste of course expands from there but I think it’s both ignorant and boring to say I’m only going to do music videos for bands I like. Even if it’s something I would never listen too, I usually end up liking it or respecting it by the time the video is done.
Life lesson - Don’t limit yourself, and if people talk shit because you are something outside of the expected, tell them to fuck off.
Is there anyone you're looking forward to working with in the future?
I’m up for The Pretty Reckless video right now; she’s like the new Courtney Love, The new Shirley Manson. Other then that, I’m open to everything. From AFI to 3Oh!3. You never know what the future will bring.
But I do know that Steve from Thursday & I are currently writing a film, I think Beck from Glassjaw might get in the mix. One way or another it’s going to be interesting. Cheers, Travis.