According to Wikipedia, Hudson Dusters was a New York City street gang formed in the late 1890s by Circular Jack, Kid York, and Goo Goo Knox. (With cool names like that, you’d think they’d be fronting a 21st-century rock band.) Their contemporary namesake is a directorial collective featuring Michael Kuhn and Niles Roth. Kuhn was repped by Propaganda Films before starting Greenpoint Pictures, and his partner Roth worked in the camera department on groundbreaking Michael Mann films (we’re talking Ali, Collateral, and Miami Vice). Among their recent directorial projects was a mix of hip-hop culture and NFL mythology shot with the Canon 5D and 7D that featured Snoop Dogg and other musicians in the lead-up to Super Bowl XLV, part of the Pepsi Max NFL Audible campaign. We asked asked them to fill us in on what they’re doing, what they like, and what they’re listening to.
Q: What are you working on today?
A: We’ve been working on some really exciting projects this year — seems to be a lot of drink companies lately. We just finished the campaign with Pepsi Max and NFL where we directed and produced music-video-style commercials with major hip-hop artists: Snoop Dogg, Big Boi from Outkast, Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kweli and B.o.B. We’re now directing a short documentary about Cee-lo, sponsored by Absolut, and another, similar, documentary about Big Boi, sponsored by Crown Royal. Both of these projects will go in-depth with the artists and show their human side and their passion for life and music. Hudson Dusters has always prided itself on being able to get intimate human moments with stars, whether it’s musicians or athletes.
Q: What is the best tool or innovation you’ve found in the last year?
A: The amazing, small HD cameras such as the Canon 5D and 7D. These obviously haven’t come out in the last year, but the fact that we’ve directed so much of our work with them lately has been incredible. We work lean and mean and these cameras allow us to work in this manner but still give us absolutely stunning images.
Q: What’s the project (film, television, commercial or music video) that most impressed you in the last year, and why?
A: The French film A Prophet blew us away. Wonderful movie all across the board, but the realistic grit really moved us. This is the type of film that inspires us. We would watch A Prophet or Mean Streets a thousand times before watching Avatar once.
Q: What’s your favorite project that you worked on in the past year? And why?
A: We’ve worked on a lot of great projects over the last year, including several Converse projects featuring musicians such as Bernard Sumner from New Order and Joy Division and Rostam Batmanglij from Vampire Weekend, but the best has been the Pepsi/NFL campaign we directed with Snoop and Big Boi. We were given basically total creative control and we got to work with a few artists we literally grew up listening to and loving. We work with a lot of musicians and athletes but truly felt such a special presence when Snoop walked through those doors. It made us realize again that this is what we love doing.
Q: Name the top 4 artists on your iPod.
A: No Age, Outkast, Tapes ’n Tapes, Lil Wayne.
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