Dylan C. Brown has been quite busy in the year 2012. That’s not to say his prior work went unnoticed but Brown has sure made his talents known behind the Tupac Coachella hologram, Snoop and Wiz Khalifa’s Mac & Devin Go To High School. The writer, director and producer speaks on everything in his creative world.
Let’s talk about this creation that could have possibly broken the internet and that would be the Tupac hologram. I know you can’t give away too many secrets, but we just want to know about the process. Basically, how it got organized and how that came about.Â
Basically I was working on directing music video for a long time, and then in 2010 I started working on more live shows as well as continuing the music video thing. One of the groups i was working with at the time was Far East Movement and they had their big hit in 2010 – they continue to have big hits – but their big hit in 2010 was “Like a G6”, “Rocketeer”, and “OMG”. So I’m producing like their Leno shows and doing creative direction or them as well, when they did Billboard awards, when they did Much Music Awards. We were going back and forth exchanging creative ideas on how to make their live shows pop and I got an email one night from these guys saying, “Look, we want to look into hologram technology.” Just like anything else, I did my research and found this company in San Diego named AV Concepts, who has this amazing virtual hologram display. With the Far East Movement, everyone was floored with what they could do. But for whatever reason it wasn’t right for Far East Movement to use it at that time. Seeing as that I’ve worked with Snoop for ten years, I immediately got in contact with his management and Snoop. I showed him a small demo of what the technology looks like. He was like, “I want to do that with Dr. Dre.” Three days later he had me in the studio with Dre and I was like, “Yo, we can bring Pac back, we could bring Eazy E back, we could do some amazing stuff.” This was all the way back in 2010. It wasn’t until the beginning of 2012 that we got to green light this thing without he directive of doing it at Coachella. In that time, I hooked up with Phillip Blackwell who was my creative partner and producer partner on this. This was the concert of a lifetime.
There was some talk of a Nate Dogg hologram beforehand. Were there any decisions about that?
That was a heightened rumor that got picked up a week before the show. As we started rehearsing our show more and more people behind the scenes started seeing what we were doing. There was a tribute to Nate Dogg, but it was a standard video tribute that had been done and that was leak and people misrepresented what we had done.Â
How many hours did you guys take in just developing the hologram itself, and making sure it would properly be highlighted on the show?Â
It was about four months of work and that was just the 2012 part. Like I said, We conceptualize and starting batting around ideas for the hologram stuff for a Snoop and Dre show as far back as 2010. Â From that time, we said “Ok, lets get this going, we’re doing it at Coachella.” End of December 2011 to Â our first show date which was April 15.Â
We also wanted to talk the final perception, once everyone witnessed the show. It seemed like some people were for it that thought, “This is cool.” and others that were against it. I don’t think there was ever a middle audience on this. Did you witness any backlash with the hologram or did you see positive reviews?
All I saw was positive reviews. I think that comes from the fact that there will always be negative reviews no matter what you do, but I think it has to do with the ratio. The ratio and the chattering around this thing, you know, Dr. Dre, Snoop, and myself put something together kind of special. I think we really created a new form of entertainment and I think that’s going to be the ultimate verdict which is how the progression of this technology takes shape over the course of a few years.Â
You guys just made him look so real. Even a few artists who were watching him, told us for a second there they even got a little blown away at how real he looked.Â
Yah, we were living and breathing this thing for four months. That was our goal. We didn’t want to do anything that would disrespect his memory or his fans. It was actually Phil and Digital Domain who actually did the visual effects work. And they were really partners and film makers as well alongside me and Phil making sure this thing came off. Everyone’s name is on the line. You didn’t want to do anything that was second rate, especially as Dr. Dre and Snoop are first rate entertainment. At the end of the day, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog put on a great show. People who work closely with Dre and work closely with Snoop who were back stage, their eyes lit up like, “This is the greatest show.”Â
You said you were developing a new form of entertainment, which i agree with, but there someone that passed the comment was that it’s taken the artistry away of remembering artists like that. What’s your response to something like that?
I think it does add to the artistry and this wasn’t the first hologram but it was the first one to make a big splash. I think ultimately when people look back it’s going to be a catalyst. The art for that is to be, that is going to come that you’re going to see for the next ten to fifteen years or various venues, or live venues, that it is going to take on such a big presence in our lives that people aren’t going to think about it in that sense. They’re going to think of it in terms of the video screen, and how it goes with any new form of multi media entertainment. Once you get over the newness factor of it, it’s accepted and then it just becomes another tool or another form of artists to express themselves. I think you will see that artists will align and investing in aspects of it to continue on. Just as you already see in with music videos and movies, or books.
Was there ever a full estimate ballpark on how much it costs?
Whatever has been reported is grossly underestimated, but I’m not going to get into that.Â
When was the first thought you got moving forward to where you are today?Â
The first productional job I did, strangely enough, was an internet short series that was done in 2000. It was a live action and animation hip hop series. It was something Snoop was on that when I was just starting out as a filmmaker. We’ve been working together ever since. By the grace of God, he’s taken an interest in the development of me as a filmmaker but also the business. Now we’ve been doing it for so long, sometimes I’ll think back at how many years i’ve been doing this and how much progress i’ve made with Snoop alone over the years, but i’m grateful for that relationship in particular because we’ve done so much in so many different medias and so many different forms of entertainment.Â
I’ve heard you’re more of a triple threat artistic presence of mind from writing, to producing, and directing. Is there any one that holds superior for you?
As a producer you just have to do it because that’s business. If you’re a filmmaker, you’re a business man, there’s no way around it. I come from a family of entrepreneurs so its in my DNA. The directing seems to be where I make my livelihood more than anything else. Writing is one of those things when you have that motor and that drive and you get ideas out, you just go sometimes. Doing that so many times, and being able to write scripts and see ideas to life.Â
Now you’re on your most current project, the much talked about, “Mac and Devin Go to High School” featuring Snoop and Wiz Khalifa. Can you give us a little more insight on that and how that came about?
Interestingly enough, it came about in that same period. At the end of 2010, Snoop was about to release his documentary music video for his last solo album. He said, “I want to do something different. Of course we had to do an MTV style music video but at the same time I want to shoot six other viral videos.” Essentially in December of 2010, we shot seven videos in five days. We were just working like dogs. We had two 20 hour days at that time. At the end of that week, Wiz Khalifa came down to our little warehouse studios, and we were shooting the music video for “This Weed Iz Mine”. That’s not where Snoop and Wiz first hooked up. They first hooked up not hat “Black and Yellow Remix”. So we were shooting this video and I was getting ready for the shot and these guys were hanging out in the greenroom and they came down to do their next shot. Snoop pulled me aside and said, “Look man, me and Wiz were talking together upstairs and we want to do an album together. We want to do a movie based on the album, then we want to take the album on tour. I want you to do it.” He said he wanted to call it “High School” and right there I just laughed. The concept itself was just funny. From there, Snoop was on the phone with me every other week asking me how it was coming. From December of 2010 to March of 2011, we were in pre-production and I hooked up with three other writers to finish the story for us which was originally going to be a 30-minute short. Snoop kept making it longer adding more music numbers and adding more scenes. This was happening during the production so we just kept adding and before we knew it we had a feature film. It was a lot of fun working with these guys. It was Wiz’s first project. I think this guy has a great future in acting if he wants to pursue it.Â
Moving forward into 2012 and 2013, I’m sure you’ve gotten numerous phone calls especially with this film and the hologram and all that. Is there anything you can give us some insight on that you have coming up?
Yah, there’s always projects with Snoop. Like I said we’ve been working together for a long time. There’s always a couple of scripts that we’re eyeing for the next go around. I can’t really go into what it is. I’m probably more excited about this next one than anything else we’ve ever done. I think its something we’d look into doing again. I think a lot of people in the business are going to be really excited about it. It’s mostly the projects we have in development right now. One is a TV show, another one is an animated feature, and all these things are tugging at us. I can’t say anything specific about what the next ones going to be yet.Â
The way that you visualize the way you write, produce, or direct, is there anyone that comes to mind as far as inspiration?
The type of movie that “High School” is I liken to movies I grew up with like “Purple Rain” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.
Â – Sean Lynch (@Kiddfuture)
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