Film and TV

Nathan Youssef: the emerging filmmaker who brings the cinematic touch to his music videos

Nathan Youssef (aka NAFA) is a filmmaker on the rise. We took five with the cinematographer to talk about his unique take on music videos and his lofty ambitions.

Sydney’s Nathan Youssef kicked off his career as a camera assistant and in five short years, he’s built up a commanding portfolio. Spanning commercials, short and feature-length films, documentaries, and music videos, his style is effortlessly poetic. And though some of his portrayals reflect life at the extremes, you can always sense his guiding hand, artfully framing the provocative imagery.

With a head full of fresh ideas on music video creation, he’s raising the bar for this particular art form. We had a chat with Nathan about the essentials of his craft, how he got into the game, and his dream collabs of the future.

Wolves, Nathan Youssef
Taken from ‘Hox Loxi’ by Wolves. Directed by Nathan Youssef

HAPPY: This video is pretty special! How did you first meet Nes Afara?

NAFA: Ah thank you! We were on the same football (soccer) team a few years ago. Then one of the guys on the team also gave haircuts in his garage, and Nes was kind of like the Andy Richter and would just be there to talk crap and keep everything running smoothly.

HAPPY: Walk us through the early stages of getting this together – did you have any main points of inspiration?

NAFA: Well we both didn’t want to do a generic hype video, and I’ve always been more inspired by music video directors like Nabil and the Young Replicant. So the early ideas were to make something considered that’s visually interesting with a few different techniques. Hence the floating dolly and falling away steadicam shots.

HAPPY: What did you want to achieve with the video?

NAFA: I guess I just wanted to make something really cool to show people where my work and style is, and what I’m trying to head towards.

HAPPY: When did you first start directing videos?

NAFA: I would make silly videos with my cousins when I was a kid but really started directing a couple of things about three years ago while I was still camera assisting and shooting occasionally. Then decided to work more under some talented individuals to learn a few more tricks until Nes and I did this clip.

HAPPY: Who would be your dream artist to direct a video for?

NAFA: Tough to pick just one! I’d say Vince Staples, Kendrick Lamar, or Brodinski. They are always pushing the envelope with hip-hop videos and I’m always so inspired whenever they release something new.

HAPPY: What tools are indispensable to your craft?

NAFA: Laptop and a camera. Really, you can do it all with those two. There were days on this clip where it was just myself with the camera shooting Nes performing. And we still got really decent footage from it used in the clip.

HAPPY: What are you working on next?

NAFA: I’m working on a short film actually, a little unique story about a woman from western Sydney. Also doing the finishing touches on another music video!

To find out more about Nathan and his work, visit his website.