Q&A: Josh Coyne

This local director of commercials, music videos and short films shares his take on today’s music video industry and more as he awaits the upcoming FirstGlance Philadelphia TwentyTen Film Festival.

Josh Coyne. See photos of Coyne at work below.Perfecting a dying trend, while living hours and flights away from New York and L.A., doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for success, but Josh Coyne isn’t worried about a thing. His recently produced music video for Philadelphia artist Johnny Popcorn is up for an award at the FirstGlance Philadelphia TwentyTen Film Festival, happening Oct. 14-17, and chances are you’re already familiar with his work. Coyne also specializes in viral and commercial marketing, so if you can’t catch him hanging out in West Chester, indulge yourself in a little YouTube surfing.

MLT: How did you get into making music videos?
It was the first thing in my brain after college. I thought it would be awesome to hang out with rock stars all day. But the truth is that the music video industry is dead or dying rapidly. This means that the ones being made are either really, really cheap or really, really expensive—and there’s no middle ground. I always wanted to do music videos, and I still love to, but it does cost a lot of money for the lights, equipment and people, and most bands just don’t have the money.

MLT: And yet you managed to score Johnny Popcorn?
I did a couple of crappy videos while I was in school, and I had the opportunity last summer to meet a fellow from Philly who wanted to shoot one. The video is for his song, “Next Episode,” and it went a lot better than I expected. It turned out really well. (Download the video here.)

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MLT: How did this small Philly project make it into a major film festival?
I submitted the video. It had actually already been to the London Independent Film Festival and the Las Vegas Film Festival. Those were much smaller film festivals, and the one in Philly is one of the top 10 film festivals there is.

MLT: Do you have any other projects in the works?
I’m working on a real movie trailer for a fake action film—I’ve never really seen anything like this before. It’s for a Philadelphia company called Connectify. I did viral stuff with them in the beginning of the summer. What we’re doing now is the movie trailer with lots of special effects and developed characters to promote the company. It’s very different—a movie trailer about software.

MLT: How does a viral marketing campaign stack up to traditional commercials?
A lot of people like to think that producing a commercial is more expensive than a viral ad, but all the stuff you see on YouTube that has a lot of hits costs almost as much money to make as it does a regular commercial on TV. You’re still spending money on the actors and specs and promotion. A lot of stuff online is promoted because someone’s paying a marketing company hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a million hits in a week. The benefit of a viral advertisement is that you have the freedom to do more. When you’re working online, it’s sort of like the Wild West in that you can basically do whatever you want. In traditional commercial marketing, it always has to be kept G-rated. Online, there are no limitations.

MLT: Your commercial and viral clients include Beck’s beer, Doritos, Old Spice and Jim Beam—is this a pattern?
My sense of humor and sensibilities really applied to the products. For example, Old Spice lets you do whatever you want. Their branding is goofy and weird. They wanted to go viral and said, “Make it as weird as you can.” You do some nitty-gritty shots in your house, throw in some crazy, and throw the product in there somewhere, and it’s actually legit.

MLT: What have you found to be the best marketing tool?
Humor is always good, and you don’t want anything that’s too complex, especially with the Internet. People are dumb. People don’t watch things on the Internet because they’re smart. They’d rather watch a dog watching TV on the Internet than a 13-minute video of astronauts. The shorter, the better, and the funnier, the better. The goal is that the ad is something that someone can relate to, or that it’s just so weird they have to turn it on and watch.
To learn more about Josh Coyne and to view his work, visit hasmorecoyne.com/director and vimeo.com/hasmorecoyne.

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