By Robyn Collins
The 24-year-old director of Kanye West’s “Fade” said the rap pioneer isn’t always looking to work with people who have the most experience. “If someone is willing to put in the work and execute and deliver, he doesn’t think about their age,” Eli Russell Linnetz told The New York Times.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, Linnetz is currently in the middle of a “one-year artist residency with Kanye.” In addition to directing “Fade,” he served as the “creative director of fabrication” for the Los Angeles gallery show that displayed nude figures of celebrities from West’s “Famous” video. He also worked on Kanye’s new stage show and merch for the Saint Pablo tour.
“We just collaborate on anything he asks me to,” Linnetz said. “He takes a lot of chances giving me so much power, but it’s worked out for both of us.”
Asked about the connection between “Fade” and the ’80s movie Flashdance, Linnetz admitted Flashdance was a major inspiration, but said there were other less obvious influences. He referred to the Ohio Players’ provocative album covers, Grace Jones boxing images by photographer Jean-Paul Goude and ’70s and ’80s porn for skin texture and oiliness. He was also influenced by David Cronenberg’s imagery in the movie The Fly, Dancing with the Stars, the Olympics and the NBA championship.
During the shoot, West was there for the production the whole time and was super involved with every detail. Linnetz said they discussed and decided on every prop: “This is the punching bag I like; which do you like?” “Do you like the weights from 1976 or 1981 better?” he said.
Regarding the shower scene in “Fade,” Linnetz said, ‘Teyana and Iman were just so in love and down for whatever. [Their baby] Junie was crying, they were naked, the sheep were pooping and peeing everywhere. But they were really game. I had to tell them to be more aggressive in the shower, because they were just so sensual with each other.”