Photo by Antonio Scarlata
Some of Jason Goldwatch’s earliest memories are of processing film. Standing atop a stool in his father’s darkroom – a SF-based artist & photographer – processing film was a family affair. The creation of those photographs was just a small introduction of what was to come.
At the age of 14, San Francisco born Jason Goldwatch began putting together videos and EPKs for local rappers, unwittingly starting down the path to developing his unique and innovative style of filmmaking. A student of the San Francisco High School of the Arts, and then later at the coveted Cal Arts, Goldwatch continued to hone his skill throughout his teens and early 20s. After a move to Los Angeles, Goldwatch, already immersed in the hip-hop scene, began helming visuals for artists such as Dilated Peoples (“Worst Comes To Worst”), Common (“1999”) and Kool Keith (“Plastic World”). It’s this work that led the director to become the youngest ever to sign to Spike Jonze’s Satellite Films. Meanwhile, Goldwatch had formed Decon with friend and co-founder Peter Bittenbender, sparked by the success of their indie feature film, One Big Trip. The company would eventually expand to house a premiere independent record label, video production team and creative agency.
As Goldwatch’s reel has grown over the years, so has his diverse style and unbridled creativity. Dilated Peoples’ “Back Again” employs a 360-degree, one-take approach, while Young Buck’s “Lose My Mind” allows unprecedented access into the rapper’s live show, as Goldwatch shifts from observer to participant, and back again. Evidence’s “To Be Continued” treats a roller coaster as a co-star, while “Stay Up! (Viagra)” with 88-Keys featuring Kanye West, literally transforms the two rappers into 85-year-old versions of themselves. Like Hunter S. Thompson swallowing a car trunk full of drugs before hitting the Las Vegas Strip, Goldwatch’s participatory style – editing and sound-designing every project on his own – allows the director to capture moments that make stay-in-the-studio filmmakers look sheltered and scared.
For Goldwatch, shooting in remote, disparate and occasionally dangerous spots such as Haiti, Nepal and South Africa informs and influences the project as much as the director’s own ideas. Over the years, Goldwatch has learned that the further you go for a shot, the greater the reward. This style permeates much of the director’s work, which has included long- and short-form videos, documentary films, as well as spots for Microsoft’s Zune, Teva (“The Naturist”), Malibu Rum, Shakira, Eminem and Pharrell.
His most recent music videos have been for the likes of Jim Jones (“Blow Your Smoke”), Ninjasonik (“Bars”), The Roots (“Dear God 2.0”), as well as “Erase Me” for KiD CuDi featuring Kanye West, Chris Mintz and Clark Duke. Documentary film credits include A Million In The Morning, the Definitive Jux tour tale, Revenge Of The Robots, the Young Buck doc, A Billion Bucks, and The Legend of Mr. Rager, which accompanied the release of KiD CuDi’s most recent album, Man On The Moon II.
Goldwatch’s upcoming projects will be some of his bravest yet and include a collaborative long-format piece shot in conjunction with Wade Davis, the renowned National Geographic Society explorer. He continues to develop of his multi-media performance art and music group called Media Muerte alongside fellow artists The Alchemist & Qbert, writing a script for a feature film, shooting a new book, “Coney Island Sundays” a short film with Pusha T shot in Cuba, and finishing a new tattoo of a Japanese zombie horse in a lightening storm.
Regardless of the project, the basic philosophy remains the same. “For me, it’s about constantly breaking new ground and going further,” says Goldwatch. “That’s been the basic premise of everything I do. Traveling through time and space in shock and awe, documenting it all.”