Joe Stakun is in demand.
The 21-year-old film student’s resume includes interning for Ridley Scott, interviewing BMX superstar Mat Hoffman and working as a production assistant for Maroon 5. Now he can add directing a Modest Mouse video to his lengthy credentials.
Stakun won the opportunity for a taste of mainstream recognition in April 2007 when Modest Mouse invited fans to submit videos for their single “We’ve Got Everything” as part of a contest; the winner would have his or her video played on mtvU.
Testament to his enthusiasm as a Modest Mouse fan and dedication as an aspiring director, Stakun had already prepared a story board to use for the band in high school, thus being one step ahead of the competition before the contest even began.
But while Stakun’s preemptive efforts provided the blueprint for an idea, turning concept to reality was a grueling endeavor that had him living at the TECH Center for six to eight hours a day while juggling the responsibilities of a full-time student during finals week.
“It was hell,” Stakun said. “And it was awesome at the same time.”
But not even hell or death itself was daunting enough for the young film student with a vice-like grip on his vision.
“I got the flu in the middle of three weeks and I still tried to go in six hours a day, living on coffee and just up 24/7. It was killing me while I was doing it, but at the same time I loved it,” Stakun said.
The theme of the video was ‘Modest Mouse goes to space.’ To create this effect, he used an animation technique for the first time that he learned in Temple professor Sarah Drury’s 2D Composition and Animation class. Photos and videos of Modest Mouse were taken from the Internet and traced line for line so Stakun could juxtapose them against a green screen and construct an animated set around them.
Stakun slaved over making every pixel that comprised the individual pictures look perfect for television, an indicator of professionalism that would distinguish his video from the other entries and eventually win the contest.
“When you get a good idea or concept you want to run with it, because it might be gone the next day,” Stakun said in defense of his feverish work ethic, which has paid off. His music video is now being played on MTV, MTV2 and VH1’s Web site.
Stakun’s work is so impressive that it even caught the attention of television producers for VH1, who may or may not be in talks with him about being on an upcoming show, where Drew Barrymore and The Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti find amateur directors to remake music videos from the 80s. “At first I kind of ignored it,” Stakun said of the offer. “I do not want to be Flava Flav.”
However, the producers were persistent and got him to come to New York for an interview.
“They seemed pretty into it because I’m the only guy they could find,” Stakun said. Hence, there’s a good chance that he’ll be on a television screen near you in 2008. Until then, Stakun has his hands full with trying to graduate, directing a BMX documentary that he has been working on for the past year and making sketch comedy and music videos for indie bands during his free time.
“My goal this year is to do these two solid music videos, put them on television, finish the BMX documentary, put all the press kits out to film festivals,” Stakun said. “And by the time I move out to Los Angeles, hopefully get signed as a director for a company.”