Yes Go's Jason Whitbeck: "Somebody Please Open Up Club Clearview Again."
Welcome to Local Music 'Mericans, where we get to know the people behind the scenes in Dallas/Fort Worth music.
Jason Whitbeck: Man at work
Jason Whitbeck's come a long way since his earliest days in Deep Ellum, as a street rep slinging free Camel cigarettes. He's become quite a successful video director, shooting for notable clients like JC Penney (a spot starring Cowboys' tight end Jason Witten), Which Wich and Neiman Marcus.
Whitbeck also runs Yes Go Productions, and Dallas has better artistic content because of his work. In addition to the high-end clientele, he's done camera work for events like the El Sibil parties, as well as artists like Smile Smile, Polyphonic Spree, Analog Rebellion and, last December, a great new video for Missile.
How did everything go the Missile video shoot?
I had such a great time working on "Pray For Me." The fellas and I didn't really know each other when we started but it turned out that we really got along great. We had a couple meetings and the guys asked if I could track some TVs they would be wearing on their heads and put different videos in them as they played. Having never done anything of that technical magnitude before, of course I said yes. Working alongside them was a great experience. The Bender brothers are a creative tour de force.They are both amazing art/creative directors and set builders.
I'm betting they weren't your only local inspiration, considering how much thought you seem to put into your music videos.
Well, I guess I fell in love with the local music scene when I was a Camel rep handing out cigarettes in Deep Ellum. I got to see every show I wanted for free and get free drinks, although that might have been against the rules. So that really sparked my interest and I saw some amazing bands perform, like The Mooney Suzuki and Phoenix in the Tea Room at the Gypsy Tea Room.
I'm guessing it was a team of inspired people that got Yes Go this kind of a rep.
Video production is a true collaborative art, so I can't and don't do it alone. My friend Bryce Richardson has been great help over the last few years. When I met him, I was preparing for a screening of our commercial work and went to Kinko's for copies. He saw a copy of the DVD cover I was printing and asked if I was looking for interns. The rest is history. He is very creative and always does a great job.
Recently, Ryan Sumner got on board as head of Yes Go client relations and since he got here it just seems like things have gone really well. Sometimes artists communicate differently than other people and you need someone that can interface with clients and Ryan does such a great job of it. Also, Zach Warner, aka Zulu Whiskey, has also been a great supporter of Yes Go over the years. He is a great hybrid of producer, web designer and all things video production.
I should also mention my musician friends and collaborators Daniel Hunter of Analog Rebellion and Luis Dubuc of Mystery Skulls.They are going to take over the world! if you haven't heard their music, check it out sometime.
Surely there must have been a music video that inspired you earlier in life.
I was an '80s kid, so MTV was a huge influence on me and source of inspiration. I loved so many of the videos back then, but the ones that seem to stick out for me are "Shock the Monkey" by Peter Gabriel, "Fish Heads" by Barnes and Barnes and "Who Can It Be Now" by Men at Work. In more recent times, I would say that I have been influenced more by directors like Spike Jones, Michel Gondry and boutique production companies like Ghost Robot in New York City. They all really take it to another level.
What about people locally who acted as inspiration, or maybe as a mentor?
I've have had several mentors, like Jack Mills of Jack Mills Productions in Oklahoma City; the Beasley Bros at MPS; Neill Whitlock, who was the first photographer I assisted and whose studio I rent now; Jeff Stephens, a high-end fashion shooter in town; Dennis Murphy, an amazing high production photographer; and my friend, lifestyle photographer and director Robb Gordon. I really learned the basis of what I'm doing these days from all of them.
As lucky as we are to have creative groups like Yes Go, what more do you think we need in the community?
Deep Ellum. We need Deep Ellum to kick off again like it used to be. Somebody please open up Club Clearview again. It was the heart of Deep Ellum and the piece that connected it all. We need to be able to have it concentrated in one area again so the live music scene isn't so spread out all over the city.