Sunderland video-maker on directing for stars from Sam Smith to Pharrell Williams

A scene from 2 Chainz ft. Pharrell, Feds Watching
A scene from 2 Chainz ft. Pharrell, Feds Watching
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A Sunderland-born film director’s at the helm of one of the most powerful music videos this year.

The moving message behind Sam Smith’s pro-gay marriage video for track Lay Me Down has seen it rack up more than 87million views in six months on YouTube alone.

In the director’s chair was Ryan Hope, 31, from Barnes, who’s built up a name for himself in the video industry thanks to his trademark blend of high-fashion styling with a gritty edge.

Multiple Brit Award-winner Sam Smith, currently one of the biggest names in British music, is the latest in a long line of respected artists to work with the former St Aidan’s School pupil.

Ryan, who now lives in LA, has a prestigious list of clients that includes Pharrell Williams, Dizzee Rascal, London Grammar, The Kooks, George Michael, 2Chainz, Wiz Khalifa and brands such as Absolut, Hugo Boss, Beats by Dre and River Island.

His most recent work has also seen him team up with electronic duo Disclosure.

Pharrell Williams and 2 Chainz on set with Ryan Hope

Pharrell Williams and 2 Chainz on set with Ryan Hope

Speaking to the Echo about Lay Me Down and its video’s popularity, he said: “It feels kind of crazy. I was really happy with how that one came out as, to be honest, I’m known in the industry for having a certain visual style that people seem to like, but I have become very bored of being all style and no substance.

“That video had a message and I was extremely proud of that fact. I’m working on another bomb with Sam at the moment that is going to make that last Rihanna video look like a Life Insurance commercial. Watch this space!”

Lay Me Down was shot in one take, a style often adopted by Ryan.

“I shoot a lot like this, it’s just my style,” he said. “I have been a huge fan of one takes in films since I was a kid really. They always just feel epic to me and doing a wedding into a funeral, or vice versa in this case, has been a concept I wanted to do for a long time. Life is a cycle like this. It’s short and you don’t get a break. So enjoy what you have!”

I was sat in my boxers watching the World Cup with a cup of tea and Nick Minaj called me and wanted to talk about her new video where she would cut someone’s head off with a letter opener. That was funny.

Ryan Hope, Sunderland-born video director

Ryan spent years honing his craft. After completing his masters degree in Manchester, a chance meeting in a bar led to him working with Ministry of Sound.

He spent a number of years as a runner on videos for the likes of Oasis, Blur and Massive Attack, learning the tools of the trade before emerging as one-to-watch himself.

Today’s he’s an established artist who’s often approached by musicians who want to work with him,

“I get calls about videos all the time from the most insane people,” he said. “One time in London last year I was sat in my boxers watching the World Cup with a cup of tea and Nicki Minaj called me and wanted to talk about her new video where she would cut someone’s head off with a letter opener. That was funny.”

Ryan, far right, on the set of Sam Smith's new video in Mexico

Ryan, far right, on the set of Sam Smith's new video in Mexico

Despite rubbing shoulders with the A List and making videos seen by millions across the globe, Ryan hasn’t forgotten his roots - and he still has the Mackem accent to prove it.

“It takes me 45 minutes to order a pizza in LA,” he joked.

He also returns home every Christmas to spend time with his family and childhood friends who still live in the city.

“Sunderland is, and will always be, in my heart and I can’t imagine a time when I won’t come back at Christmas,” he said.

Ryan also finds the time to foster new talent.

“For young people getting into the industry my advice would be the same as my dad always told me - ‘you can do anything you want in life, don’t listen to your careers teacher.’

Sam Smith in the video for hit track, Lay Me Down

Sam Smith in the video for hit track, Lay Me Down

“Another piece of advice would be to just drop me an email as I try to help everyone wanting to get into film that I can. There are always two or three interns on every shoot I do as I buzz off them.”

With a list of household names as clients, does Ryan still have a wishlist of artists he’d like to work with?

“The Chemical Brothers,” he said. “I just got a track sent from them this morning with Beck in it so I’m going to put something together and hope they like that as that would be a good one to do.”

Disclosure, Holding On

Disclosure, Holding On

London Grammar, Hey Now

London Grammar, Hey Now

Ryan's commercial for Hugo Boss

Ryan's commercial for Hugo Boss

Wiz Khalifa, feat The Weeknd, Remember You

Wiz Khalifa, feat The Weeknd, Remember You