Under Pressure: Director Stephen Wayne Mallett Talks Logic’s New Action-Packed First Person Shooter Music Video

In Logic‘s new video for the title track off of his highly anticipated Under Pressure album, the quickly rising Maryland emcee takes the viewer on a wild ride of danger and violence in the first person during the execution of a diamond heist. MTV called it a cross between a Quentin Tarantino film and the popular Call of Duty video games, while fans lit up the video’s comments section and social media about which video game they thought the visuals were reminiscent of.

Just several hours and at least 80,000 views (according to YouTube’s sometimes slow to update counter) after the thrilling visuals landed on the ‘net, I spoke with director, cinematographer and editor, Stephen Wayne Mallett, the humble 25-year-old head of the team of masterminds responsible for pulling off the dramatic video.

Mallett has worked in various roles in production in Los Angeles for movies such as Dark Knight Rises and The Lone Ranger, along with hundreds of commercials. He’s also the CEO of Green Glow Films, which is a production company he founded in 2008.

Mallett was introduced to Logic in July through Green Glow producer Alec Eskander, who has worked on videos with Jon Bellion, an artist alongside Logic on Visionary Music Group’s roster. When they met, Logic already had a vision.

underpress1“The concept was his idea,” said Mallett who worked with Logic for three months from the beginning of development until the video’s October 9th release. “The whole idea of a diamond heist was him. I was brought in to execute it. He’s a very conscious artist and his philosophy really vibed with mine. And I instantly got a massive amount of a respect for him because he proved to me early on that he really has a vision of his brand.”

As for the debate about which video game they were trying to emulate, Mallet says viewers can stop the speculation.

“It was never intended to be a video game. I think Logic’s main influences were Pulp Fiction, Heat, and Snatch — the movies. For me, I try to really close off my mind and do my job, but as I was cutting it, editing-wise, I had vivid flash backs of playing Golden Eye on Nintendo 64. If people notice that the shotgun blast is a lot louder than all the guns, it’s because I remember in Golden Eye there were just some weapons that were super loud out of nowhere.”

Mallett and Logic scouted a couple of Los Angeles film lots that they decided were too big before agreeing upon doing the shoot around several buildings in downtown L.A. Then the real work came well before any guns fired.

“Once we found a location we mapped out the entire location on the computer,” said Mallett. “What it’s called is a process called previs, which stands for pre-visualization. So we literally made the entire video in a CGI animation. I wanted it to be what it is, and to explain that concept to as many people as it takes to be involved — we had one day to shoot that video — I demanded that, and I said the only way we do this video is if we previs it. So my artist, Daniel Craven, would come with us to the location and literally mapped it out in the computer, and from there we animated everything you see. All the details were placed into the computer and sent to all my department heads.underp2

“The previs was huge. People can come to the set and look at storyboards, but even with storyboards there’s a gap between each one and you have to use your brain to connect them. This was very much like brain surgery to me, I gotta consider overtime,  I gotta consider people getting hurt, I gotta consider special effects, practical effects. So by putting it all into the computer, when someone asks what are we doing, I can just press play.”

Mallett says that Logic, who he describes as a film buff especially fond of Quentin Tarantino, was more than just a spectator in the preparation.

“Logic was really cool. We spent many many days in pre-production dialing in exactly what was going to be where. And Logic is very specific about a lot of those things, like the Frank Sinatra poster you see, the couple having sex, the “F**k Off” mat — that mat on the floor before he kicks the door down — that was all him.”

Before shooting, Mallett and his team locked down even more details to make sure everything was in place for an efficient day of filming, during which they had only 12 hours to work.

“I used Evernote, which is a piece of software, to do an overhead map and detailed shot list of what was going to happen. And then we had — what I love to do — a ‘pre-light.’ So we had a good half day rehearsal/ lighting day the day before so we were able to show up on set and just roll camera.”

The big day was filled with as much activity and experienced personnel as your favorite high-powered action film.

“That day there was a real AR-15 with blank rounds,” said Mallett. “Things for like the hand-to-hand combat — those guns were rubber guns — but 90 percent of all the guns were real. They would fire, and shells would drop out of them.

“We had stuntmen who did Vin Diesel’s work in Fast & Furious, we had the stuntman who wears the Ironman suit, we had Bruce Willis’ stuntman. We had a legendary team of stuntmen. The entire thing was shot with a GoPro mounted to a stuntman’s head with a helmet.

underpr2“I had two takes to get the closing scene with the cop cars, and had I missed the second take — had we not nailed it — I would’ve screwed up the whole shoot. I believe that you’re not a real director until you can take eight shots and combine them into one, and that’s what we had to do at the end.”

The video demanded a lot of Mallett, who also spent weeks in postproduction editing the visuals and sound throughout, but he says the second he made it through the challenging last scene on set, he believed the project was one he could be proud of.

“I like to make work that I wanna watch, bottom line. I’m picky. And I found that if I create something that I really wanna watch, for whatever reason other people wanna watch it.

“I’d say the hardest part about what this is is when someone claims they want to put something in a video because they think the general public is going to like it. That did not happen once in this video, and that’s the first time since I can remember.

“Logic wants to make things he wants to watch, I want to make things I want to watch, and when we combined that I stood back at the end of the day and I’m like, you know what, I may stick around because, you know, music videos have always been a step to do movies.”

You can expect music videos and movies in the future from Mallett, who says he’s already begun working with a Holocaust survivor to turn the man’s gripping story into a feature film.

“I’m gonna do my best to contribute real art because it might inspire someone the way art has inspired me,” says Mallet.

Follow Mallet on Twitter at @stephen_mallett and Logic at @Logic301. Logic’s Under Pressure album drops October 21.


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