'Music videos are such an amazing art form': Shae

The name 'Shae Sterling' may not be familiar, but his work has showcased the talents of Stan Walker, Maisey Rika Maya Payne and K.One as their go-to, in-demand music video director.

Prior to his chat with RNZ Music’s Yadana Saw he gives a quick masterclass on how to film this interview for radio:

Shae is happy to give us a crash course in expanding our content making skills.

It seems he is completely unfazed by the obstacles and quirks of his chosen profession: evading the attention of armed security guards; trawling Craigslist for vintage cars or maintaining control of wayward tractor tyres.

“It’s such an amazing art form, you’re so free to do what you want” enthuses Shae.

The self-taught filmmaker “got a taste” as a youngster. His father spurred his passion by buying him a video camera and getting him on a set of friend’s multimillion dollar film production in LA. 

He then turned his hand at making movies of things he and friends’ enjoyed: cars. “We started making these DVDs about cars called High Octane. It was Top Gear before Top Gear and we did that for six years and I made 6 feature length documentaries about cars - they were like comedies.”

The independent film series were highly popular amongst the boyracer circuit, topping the local DVD sales charts  “We’d beat the movies when they came out.

The boy racer thing was huge.” But then Shae “got sick of filming cars after six years, so then I got into music.”

He even turned his hand at making his own music, which led to a fruitful partnership with Maisey Rika which is beautifully reflected in her 2012 waiata ‘Tangaroa Whakamautai”

But it’s his Stan Walker music videos that have become his calling card. “I’ve actually done the most music videos for one artist is Stan. I’ve done either 8 or 9 for him now.”

Their latest collaboration, the bold and arresting ‘New Takeover’, which Shae credits the singer for.

“Sure I filmed it, directed it, but the concept initially is very much his idea, and I did everything in my power to service that concept.”

Shae explains, “it’s not quite political it’s more just about a movement, coming out of struggle or letting people be aware of who you are and sometimes you just don’t wanna be walked over in life.”

The video is bold and arresting with contemporary kapa haka choreography, the tino rangatiratanga flag prominently appearing in the video, and visual elements that clearly display the artist’s respect and affinity to Maoritanga.

The clearest motif of Shae’s hand is the presence of Aotearoa’s natural scenery - something that often appears in his work. “I can see beautiful things in nature. There is so much inspiration.”