Jake Ures


The last installment of our syndication of The 405's music video series Loud Visionaries, focusing on the new wave of music video directors and creatives.


There's a lot to love about John Merizalde's quick rise to prominence in the world of engaging, thought provoking music videos. His asking everyone to lift their game, is keen to put it all on the line, and is passionately pushing through the industry at a ferocious pace.

405: You've got a great origin story, can you break it down for us and what your influences were growing up?

John Merizalde: I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. I watched an unhealthy amount of movies as a child, and I had an equally unhealthy obsession with Kurosawa, Kubrick, and PT Anderson. Growing up I spent most of my free time making mindless short films on mini dv.

I tried the college thing but that didn't work out too well. I dropped out after two years and spent some time bumming it out, living in a glorified crackhouse for a while. I got bored of that eventually and started making videos again.

I had always wanted to direct features, and it wasn't until fairly recently that I started to see the potential in the short form. Seeing challenging music videos from the likes of directors like Daniel Wolfe and Romain Gavras inspired me to go towards that medium.

405: Formal education vs. School of Hard Knocks?

Merizalde: School works for some people, but it's just not my thing. Everyone has the internet. You have all the resources you need to learn and grow right in front of you. Film school used to be a major socio-economic barrier to success, but it's a level playing field now.

The best education is to just watch and make films. It's evident when you look around that most successful young filmmakers are self-motivated and self-taught.

405: How did you engineer your first big break?

Merizalde: Dumb luck. My first music video opened a lot of doors. At the time I was making short films for a church. As you can imagine, not the most creatively fulfilling gig. I scoured through Facebook looking for musicians to collaborate with and stumbled across a small local artist: Snowden. Luckily they needed a music video, so I directed an ultra-low budget piece for them. To everyone's surprise, the video blew up on VEVO and ended up getting a lot of attention. About a year later I made the move to LA and here I am.

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