20-year-old Noah Keckler has made a name for himself in the world of photography, videography, and commercial direction. Based in Chicago, Illinois, the creative phenomenon has a unique style that set him apart from the pack, characterized by a cinematic flair and a commitment to authenticity.
Music videos and commercials are not just performances for Noah, but an opportunity to tell a story. He wants to transport his audience into his own creative world, bringing them on a journey through the scenes and environments he creates. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for storytelling, the director’s work is more than just capturing images, it’s about capturing moments and creating memories.
Among his career highlights, Noah has shot and directed music videos for the likes of dad sports, Arm’s Lengths, and Teen Blush to name a few. He had an explosive run in 2022, working on projects such as femdot’s “Back On Road,” Ryan Wood’s “Walls,” and Victor Internet’s “Do Not Disturb” music video alongside Heartgaze. On the commercial side, he continues to step outside of the box as displayed in Lyrical Lemonade’s collaborative effort with White Sox. Thus far, 2023 is shaping up to be a good year for Keckler with new videos already in the works.
Whether he’s working on a commercial project or a music video, Noah’s commitment to his craft shines through in his work. His goal is to captivate his audience and leave a lasting impression, and with his unwavering dedication and attention to detail, he is sure to do just that. We got to chop it up with the Louisville native about his production company Mailbox, working on various music videos, and much more below!
How did you initially fall into directing videos and taking photos?
I don’t know if there was one specific moment I can point to although my parents gave me a camera for my birthday in the seventh grade, I believe. And since then, I’ve always just been interested in cameras and geeking out about that type of stuff. I would just take my camera with me whenever I hung out with my friends. I’d always just be taking pictures or taking videos or whatever we got into. That’s when I found that I really liked it a lot and people also enjoyed the photos that I took, so I just kept doing it.
Talk to me about your production company, Mailbox, what led to your launching your own venture as opposed to signing with an agency or working underneath other creatives?
I’ve always wanted to work for myself and kind of be able to create my own schedule. Funny enough, about two years ago, I was visiting back home when me and my dad took a walk and I was explaining to him what production companies were in the film industry.
As we were walking around my neighborhood, I was trying to make up a hypothetical name for a production company. I looked at a mailbox and then I was like, “Oh, just imagine a company named Mailbox.” Then the rest of the walk, I was like, that’s a raw name. I created this company almost two years ago and it’s mainly a music video and commercial production company. I don’t really do any photo work through that. That’s more just like my solo stuff. But, I have a lot of plans for this year, specifically expanding what the company means to people.
It’s been a background thing for the longest time as I try and figure out what I want to do with the company, but I’ve spent some good time over the past couple of months, sitting down and brainstorming some ideas of where I want to take it. It’s gonna be exciting, hopefully, more people know what it is this time next year.
With the long-term in mind, where are you hoping to take it, and are there plans to branch off into other industries?
I think it’s important in any creative field for you to have an interest in other areas, but for me personally, I want to master something first before I’ve branched out. So at the moment, I’m just trying to get my 10,000 hours into music videos, commercials, and shorter content. Then I think maybe a couple of years down the road I’ll give it a try.
For the longest time, I didn’t want to do narrative work because it’s such a different environment to work in . It takes a longer time to shoot and doesn’t move as fast paced as music videos or commercials do. . It’s such a different set environment than the music videos, but I’ve written a couple of short scripts and found that I enjoyed writing them a lot. So yeah, I don’t know what the future holds.
Some months ago, you took some BTS photos for Lil Yachty’s “Poland”—can you walk me through that experience of being on-set?
I started working with Lyrical Lemonade in May of 2021 and my position within the company has evolved from when I started. I started off shooting interviews with Elliot Montanez and I still do this, but I started doing more behind-the-scenes videos and other content through that. I think doing BTS photos is the greatest learning experience as a music video director I’ve ever had, because although my job is to be there and take photos, it’s also an opportunity for me to watch someone else work. And it’s someone else who has mastered their craft, you know what I’m saying?
Although I have my time where I step in and grab a photo, I’m also listening, learning, and watching everything unfold on set before reapplying that to my own work. That Lil Yachty video in particular was a blast. We went out to New York for a day and we were just bouncing around Soho, just getting a couple of moments here, and then put out the video two or three days after that.
Conversely, with you having the ability to work on various projects with Lyrical Lemonade and Cole Bennett, has that given you any insight on how you want to structure your own endeavors?
I think more than anything is how everyone carries themselves and their work ethic. Everyone is so focused, they’re excited to work and then at the same time, they’re super humble and compassionate. There was never a moment where I felt like I was out of place or like I didn’t belong. Everyone made me feel super welcome.
I appreciate the way that they treat each other and other people with who they work with, from the talent to the crew. I feel like being a good person, especially in the music industry, is incredibly important.
You and Arm’s Length have a handful of collaborations together, including “Tough Love” and “Object Permanence.” Do you find it more enjoyable directing for artists who you’re familiar with or stepping out of your comfort zone?
I enjoy working with new people and stepping outside of my comfort zone, and am especially trying to do that this year. I’m trying to branch into different genres I don’t want to be boxed into just being like, “Oh, he just does like this type of genre,” because I feel like I can really expand outside of that. I think regardless of whether it’s like a brand new person or somebody I’ve worked with, I feel like you need to get to know the person you’re working with before you step on set.
Set moves so quickly and there’s so much happening so my focus will be here and then it’ll be moved over there. I just find that it’s so enjoyable if we’re all having a good time. You’re my friend, I’m your friend, and we’re all friends on set. I think it’s super important to make everyone who is on set feel comfortable and welcome, because that’s when people work at their best level. At the end of the day, this is what I enjoy doing. It doesn’t really feel like a job. establishing friendships with whoever it is that I’m working with beforehand is important.
AI has been a popular topic of conversation when it comes to art, although eventually, it’ll make its way into other mediums such as photography and visual editing. What are your thoughts on artificial intelligence?
I think, just like with any new technological innovation, it can be applied artistically to anything. To be honest, I’m not the most up-to-date on the AI stuff. I really haven’t looked into it too much, but I do have friends of mine that have implemented it into their work and it looks super dope. Especially for the pre-production process. Like, instead of me having to search for a film still, I can now go into whatever AI software and type exactly what’s on my mind and there’s a generated image that I can implement into a treatment that I can pitch.
So I think it can be useful and effective. I don’t think it’s ever going to be an issue to compete with because at the end of the day, people enjoy watching other people’s work. It feels more genuine. But I think it’s a tool that people can tap into, and I haven’t tapped into it, but it’s super cool. It’s just the way the world is gonna work you know, stuff is going to continually improve. I think if you don’t embrace that, then you’re going to fall behind.
At the time of this conversation, the latest music video that you worked on was FIG’s “Cooking For One,” which takes on such a unique approach. What was that like?
She’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever worked with. I’ve been super tapped into the New York scene up there and there are so many artists doing great things. That was a fun video. We went to this local grocery store in Chicago, and we called before we went there to see if we could film inside the store. They were like, “We don’t care.” So we went and shot in there and then shot the rest of it just in my kitchen.
That was a blast. She’s a great person. Although the video concept is what it was, I don’t think it would’ve been the same without her. I feel like all of her videos have… Just her energy and her essence. I think that’s just the true nature of being an artist. It’s like, whatever or whoever you’re working with, your vision shows through and I think she’s a perfect example of that.
Beyond that project, are there any artists in particular you dream of working with?
I definitely have a list I gotta do one with Jack Harlow since we’re both from the same city and he’s a great guy. I’m hoping to get one with Jack. I really like Destroy Lonely a lot. His last project is fire and JMP is killing the visuals for that. I feel like they’re basing a lot of his visual style around like, it looks like it was shot on film so I think we could really make something cool.
Featured Image courtesy of Evan Fent