NYC MUSIC VIDEO DIRECTOR FOR CELEBRITIES AND THE GAYS.
The more I spoke to video artist and award-winning music video director Mikhail Torich, the more impressed with him I became. His knowledge of the world of video was incredible, and so were his credentials.
He’s done everything from T-Boy’s music videos to pictures of the First Soviet President, along with Lady Bunny to house music star Crystal Waters. I met Torich on several occasions, and each time my admiration for him grew and grew. He is a true artist! He is also very cute with a vivacious and animated personality.
I’m excited that we are finally speaking.
I’m very excited too! The MTV Music Video Awards are coming up, and next week on Monday, August 22, I will be featured on Ryan Wolowski’s “Ryan Reporting” TV show on Manhattan Neighborhood Network, MNN4 Culture Channel at 10 p.m. (Verizon FiOS channel 36 / TWC 67 & 1998). We will be talking about the art of music video creation and will be showing some of my latest works. It’ll be a 30-minute special.
Mikhail, I wasn’t aware that you also shot music videos. I mean, I have seen you video many of the successful nightlife events.
I have for years. I have done music videos for each and every downtown music artist—both gay and straight: Honey Davenport, T-Boy, Grammy-winner Rob Fusari, Peppermint. I mean, you name it, I did it. Four videos for California rapper Solomon, Cazwell and Manila Luzon’s “Helen Keller” lyric video, multiple parody videos for Lady Bunny, cinematography on Sharon Needles’ “Ouija Board” music video and many more.
When did you begin your video career?
I started quite a long time ago. It was in the year 2000, back in Russia. I worked for a couple of big production companies in Moscow and St. Petersburg. While finishing university I was doing a lot of producing of mainstream music videos for Russian and European artists. Those were the days when there were still big productions, big sets, a lot of costume changes. It was the prime of the music video business. Over the past 15 years it’s gone down, down, down. Production scale has gotten smaller, smaller and smaller. I handled productions in Moscow, Germany, and then six years ago I moved to New York. That’s where I live, and that’s where my home is now.
Who are some of the biggest stars that you have made videos for?
You know, it’s really hard to tell who to call a star. There are those singers who are on television and radio, and then there’s the question, “Is that artist a star?”. It took 16 people to write a song, so is that person really big? I have worked with people that are prominent and relevant. A few years ago I did a pretty fun music video for veteran of house music Crystal Waters and DJ Chris Cox, called “Oh Mama Hey.” I’ve photographed some of the most influential characters of today’s pop culture, including First Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, Anna Wintour, Julianne Moore, Michael Alig, Sandra Bernhard and many others. Produced dozens of video projects for most of the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” show stars and winners. I have to say, though, that New York City has this atmosphere, the pure, underground artistry, where each and every person who is performing or singing is fully in charge of his craft.
Yes, I agree.
As for the most recent release, I just finished my fifth music video for YouTube sensation AB Soto. Believe it or not, I did the film literally in rush hour on a street in Chinatown. Can you imagine? How fun is that? People were coming out of the stores, trying to lip sync the lyrics. It was insane!
If you ever need an assistant for one day, please pick me.
OK, let’s do it. It’s usually about half a day of fun, and then about two weeks of editing every day. So I’m wondering if you want the half day of fun or the two weeks of editing?
I’ll do the fun part, thank you. Mikhail, have you done any movies?
Right now I’m finishing a movie. It’s a Latino gay comedy with the spotlight on extreme weight loss called “Skin.” I worked as director of photography alongside my long-time friend, director and screen writer Dominic Colon and Sebastian Rea. The film is in the last phase of sound mixing. I did two pretty successful short films. One of them was premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 2013 called “Nothing.” The other art film “Testo” received a bunch of American and international awards. Creating a short film is extremely expensive.
When you lived in Russia, were you openly gay?
Yes I was, and personally I never experienced any hate or negativity, because I worked in television for years, and for six years I worked at “Time Out” magazine in St. Petersburg, Russia. I was head of the photo department for years, and that was a gay-friendly publication.
So what’s the next project you will be working on?
“Fukdat” music video for AB Soto that we filmed in Chinatown is the most recent project. Also, I’ve been working at the Monster bar in the West Village, doing nightlife photography for the past three years. In January I released a photo book, an album of highlights of the Manster at the Monster party by Mitch Ferrino. It’s available on my website, eBay and at the Monster bar on Saturday nights.
Visit TORICH.NYC for everything Mikhail Torich, like his page on Facebook (TORICH.NYC), subscribe to YouTube.com/MTORICH and follow him on Instagram @MikhailTorich to stay posted on the most recent releases, premiers and casting calls.