[US Interview] Jason Goldwatch [Decon] - Film Clip/Movie Director (interview by kTpure)
Jason Goldwatch is the Director of the brilliant new feature film: The Release Party – which tells the story of
Dilated Peoples, and most notably is a celebration of their “release” from a four album contract with Capitol Records. This
was a true labour of love for Jason. From shooting their first clips while he was attending film school to joining them on world tours - he has had a
“fly on a wall” approach in shooting tour footage and back stage moments. Ten years later, they have been superbly edited into a full length movie
about the journey of Dilated, and where they find themselves in 2007…free from a major label contract and a fuckload wiser!
During this time that Dilated have gained both underground and commercial success, Jason has been flexing his creative prowess in making clips and
DVDs, involving artists like Common, Hieroglyphics, Swollen Members, Linkin Park, Kool Keith and Pharrell Williams. Around 2000 he
co-founded Decon – a multifaceted creative agency that includes Film Production, Design and a Record Label. Jason was a hard man to pin
down, and apart from a brief intermission so he could step out to smoke a joint, I got to speak candidly to the man behind the lens.
kTpure: Tell us about your motivation to make ’The Release Party’ feature film.
Jason Goldwatch: Well we had been shooting for years and by the time The Release Party came about and the relationship with
Capitol went sour it was just a natural progression. We had so much footage and knew we were gonna use it for something. At one point we were supposed
to follow a course of releasing it with an album but Capitol didn’t go for it. But we knew we could both benefit from this if we do this right.
kT: What was it like in the early days of working with Dilated? Were you surprised when they started to gain this crazy underground success
from 12”s like Third Degree and Work the Angles?
JG: I would like to say that I was surprised, but I wasn’t. There wasn’t a lot really crackin’ and they were doing something
completely different - they had a unique sound which sounded the same every time. I remember the first time I heard them, before I met them, and I was
just like “YO!” So no…I wasn’t surprised. I was at Cal Arts when I started working with them doing a coupla videos, and we all kinda grew
kT: When you got to travel with Dilated and film during these international tours - how did you support yourself in this period? Did you have
a day job?
JG: After I got out of Cal Arts I was just sort of floating…I ended up signing to a few Production Companies…but I never
really got a real job. When the touring came about I was like “Hell yeah!” It was a situation where they just said “You shoot and do your thing and
we’ll pay your way.”
kT: How did you feel at the time they signed this big four album deal with Capitol?
JG: For me, I was excited. It meant I was gonna get bigger budgets and we were just gonna keep it moving and it was a natural
progression. I was sorta blessed with this innocent ignorance about the real world was really like…of course we should do bigger videos, cos I’m gonna
be a Director. It all fell into place really easily at first.
kT: Specifically in regards to the Worst Comes To Worst clip – there was an interesting part in the film where Rakaa was talking
about the shot of him rapping in front of the World Trade Centre, which was right before 9/11. You worked on that clip didn’t you?
JG: Yeah. We were all there…there was a bunch of returning flights, a couple of us were going to San Francisco and flying out of
Boston. That was a real close one for a bunch of people.
kT: Rakaa mentioned that MTV banned certain parts of that clip – can you talk about that?
JG: Yeah I’d love to.
kT: So how does that work when parts of the clip are banned?
JG: Well you finish a video the way you like it and when the group comes to a decision that this is what you are going to present.
That becomes the video – then you release it and send it to MTV. Then generally you get comments back…like you can’t show a body without a head ‘cos
that is strictly sexual. So if there is a shaking butt with no head it is purely sexual thing…ya know…you get these stupid comments back. One of their
comments was that they don’t want to see the World Trade Centre at all. We were able to edit around it…sorta…but there was another shot which ended up
taking up two verses of the song where we were on the Brooklyn Bridge, and we just had to paint shots of the World Trade Centre out.
kT: That’s crazy! So how much time do you get to edit a clip after you get these comments – I mean - I know release dates are usually really
JG: It’s always on you. MTV doesn’t care. Capitol are like “get it done as quick as possible.” It took us a couple of days to paint
that stuff out. It was a quick turn around – they were really pushing for that thing to come out.
kT: That is where the film kinda takes on this real ominous tone when you can start to feel what is coming.
JG: Yeah when things are turning…
kT: Yeah… but overall the film does have this retrospective commentary and ultimately a positive theme of being “released” from this deal with
Capitol. In terms of that actual theme – was that the group’s idea or you that came up with that concept?
JG: They already had an idea that they were doing a ‘Release Party Tour’, which was a European tour I went on with them when they
were finally off Capitol, where they were announcing that fact and being proud of it. Evidence was working on his solo record and that was
But it was all my doing - I still had all this footage that I didn’t really know how to assemble, or what the puzzle would look like and then as they
got off Capitol and there was talk about ‘The Release Party’…it all started to make sense. I guess it was then we realised there was gonna be
a happy ending to all this footage about the struggle they were going through with Capitol. There was a light at the end of this tunnel and
we could actually bring this around and have a happy ending to this thing and it would actually be an enjoyable 90 minutes.
kT: So you were basically filming for ten years, but how long did you spend editing all the footage to make the film?
JG: It was probably about a five month edit. We pretty much finished as I had to turn in the master. We were up against a deadline.
kT: Obviously you have forged both personal and business relationships with Dilated – were there particular moments in the edit that were hard
– like you had to walk on eggshells?
JG: Not really, ya know – we are all really good friends and I didn’t have any footage of them that they didn’t want me to use or
anything like that. The interviews were real straight up and really really honest. Afterwards, Evidence at one point was like...“Dude I forgot there
was a camera there...I was just chillin’ with you and we were just talking…and I feel like really I gave up so much.” They pretty much knew that
whatever they had said or whatever I had captured was real. I wasn’t gonna make anything up.
kT: Yeah there is obviously a lot of footage in the special features that you had to leave out. Anyway – congratulations man – I have watched
it about 5 times. I love it.
JG: Awesome. It really was my first swing at an actual feature documentary…ya know…this to me is actual cinema. I have done DVDs for
Def Jux, Ludacris, Young Jeezy…but this to me is a baby of mine.
kT: So you are in New York at the moment.
JG: I am.
kT: And what’s the mood like there the day after September 11?
JG: It’s fine…same old thing. They had the lights lit up at Ground Zero last night which was pretty intense. They have these huge
spotlights that shoot up from it which I can see from right out my window from my crib, so that is a little intense, but ya know just another day I
kT: George Bush was out here recently actually.
JG: Awesome, how was that?
kT: It was insane! We live in Sydney and we had a public holiday on the main day all the Presidents from China and Russia etc was here. They
erected this massive fortress around the city – and people weren’t allowed to go into the city and and they bought in special laws like anyone could
be searched and snipers could shoot to kill. I guess Americans are used to that…but it was the biggest security operation we have ever seen.
JG: We’re not used to it! Don’t get it twisted! He’s about to be out of here ya know…everyone can’t wait…
kT: Didn’t we all think that last time though? It’s the same for our Prime Minister we all thought he was out last time and he
JG: They are pulling strings ya know…pulling strings behind the show. Everyone is just so fed up.
kT: Anyway…I want to talk about the business side of things for you. So, you co-founded Decon around 2000 right with Peter
Bittenbender – can you tell us how you two came together and forged this business relationship.
JG: Well we started with the film called ‘One Big Trip’ which we made right at the turn of the millennium. A bunch of us climbed
into an RV in New York and drove all the way to the bottom of the country to Florida, then all the way to the west, and made it to Californian dessert
for the New Year’s Eve party there. We just mad it into a movie…I was making experimental stuff at Cal Arts and he was trying to get his
business thing started so it just made sense. It was really successful…we did film circuits and film festivals. Actually…we put one-a-day vitamins in
a little nickel bag and put them all over the festival with a sticker that said “One Big Trip” and the Sheriff found it and it ended up making the
news that night…We had a lot of luck with that first project. We had a soundtrack we put together with Hieroglyphics and DJ Shadow and we just got
I guess I was planting these seeds throughout my career in Los Angeles as a young underground director, and I was trying to make a feature for the
first time so I cashed in a lot of the chips I had saved up and we went for it and it was successful, so we just kept moving. We ended up designing
the cover of the movie ourselves and the posters…so that started the design part…it was just a snowball.
kT: You mentioned you never had a day-job…so straight out of Cal Arts you could support yourself doing this?
JG: Yeah..it was rough going. I was living in Valencia, which is cheap for the first year…an hour North of LA, a nightmarish suburb
kinda environment. I got a phone call from a Production Company that Spike Jones owned. He was my hero…and I got this call and ended up signing up
with them and I was there for a year. They shut down after 9/11 then I went to another place and kinda hopped around production companies. But it was
always me working for somebody. I’d have a rep who was supposed to be representing my work and the go-between for me and these labels…and I was the
sorta gut that was always working directly with the artists – I never went through a label. It was like a family thing in Los Angeles. My rep was
going home at 5 pm – and I was like “dude you need to be at this show tonight – what are you doing going home?”. It just didn’t make sense for me
anymore. Peter and I had this thing on the side that was going and we just decided it was better to dedicate ourselves and might be able to pull that
kT: So Decon has now become this multi-faceted empire with Design, and a Record Label and the Film stuff…so how big is the actual
JG: It’s like 8 -10 people everyday and Pete and I steer the ship. He tries to focus on business and I try to focus on creative but
those lines blur all the time.
kT: Is there any one part of the business that is the cash cow…that makes all the money?
JG: That’s the cool thing - it sorta alternates. Like last year I was pretty much with Pharrell for the majority for the year.
['Icecream' DVD] We went to Japan twice and Brazil and Spain - we made a lot of money in the video Department. Then this year I could get into Dilated
Peoples and really took my time cos it was my baby and a really serious attempt at a feature documentary…and we had that cushion. So this year was the
video side of things was in creative mode. Then out of the blue we got the Zune [Microsoft] campaign. It’s something that always feeds itself – if
it’s it not one thing it is another.
kT: And you are working on something with Young Buck right now yeah?
JG: Editing yeah….making this DVD with Young Buck, who is largely perceived as this gangsta from the south, which he is on one
level, but he is also a really great human being. He is real witty and warm and wise… and we have a great connection. It’s gonna be a total
exploration of his character…another dope 90 minute documentary feature if we pull this thing off.
Working with Buck was sort of a stretch…he is a huge artist here, ya know with Gunit & 50 Cent…but like I said he is actually an really interesting
dude and he is smart and he is really interested in creating stuff and giving me the freedom to do that, so it has been a great project so far.
kT: Do you have an official 5 year business plan for Decon – or is it all about maintaining at this point?
JG: We are in the process of getting some investors and stepping things up in a major way. We have reached a point where Pete and I
have done all we can do…so we are sorta in the midst of that, which is incredible. It’s been crazy to get to this point together and we are like “Holy
Shit” when we look back. Just the success of what we have done up to this point, and it has just continued to snowball and we are talking to other
artists now who want to do DVDs and stuff …major artists that we grew up listening to.
kT: Do you have time for any outside hobbies apart from hip hop and making clips and films?
JG: I was just complaining to Pete about this – I used to make collages and make music but ever since I moved to New York a year ago
I haven’t done shit. It is great cos this is what I do – but I haven’t been painting or collaging or anything this year.
kT: So the move to New York was a necessity for the business?
JG: Yeah I was living in Venice [California] and I had a girlfriend and I was living on the beach, doing my thing handling the films
and he was out here working. I broke up with my girl and he was like “Dude, now is the time for you to come out here and we need to step it up.” This
year has been an incredible year for us.
Jason Goldwatch shout-outs: Shout to Peter, Larry, Kavi, Arturo, Joan, Morgan and Dan, shouts to the DECON arm wrestling team! Second
Place.... well get em next year fellas. Shout out to Dilated Peoples, ALC, Sid Roamz, B+, and everyone who got down on THE RELEASE PARTY,
Deconmedia.com, shout outs to Peter Beard, Oliver Stone, Mike Giant, Spike Jonze, Aceyalone, Venice Beach, Block, Ricky Powell, Michael Jordan,
Terrence McKenna, Alex Grey, Jewelry, Young Buck, Dj Q-Bert, and that guy this morning that told me "good morning " and really meant it. Shout out to
all the fly Australians. Shout out to sharks, kangaroos, didgeridoos, and walkabouts. Special gang banging west coast, crip walking shout out to my
moms and my pops. And OzHipHop for keeping it really real, and tuning everyone in. 2012, LSD, Compton, Crop circles, critical mass, missing time and
all that son! Word.
Interview by kTpure
Pics courtesy of Jason Goldwatch
©2007 OzHipHop.Com - No part of this interview can be used without permission from the Webmaster.
Fill your hand you son of a bitch.