Video star: Filmmaker Andrew Anderson documents local hip-hop

NICE SHOT: Filmmaker Andrew Anderson, left, with hip-hop artist Philo Reitzel at the 2015 Music Video Asheville awards. Photo by Leigha Rochelle Beck

If there was an award for most prolific filmmaker at this year’s Music Video Asheville, Western North Carolina native Andrew Anderson would have been a shoe-in. Six of the 29 entries at this year’s show came from Andrews’ Double A Productions company; his video for CrazyHorse & Colston’s song, “Soul Driven,” won for best cinematography.

That submission, along with other videos bearing Andrews’ stamp, was made for a hip-hop band. While the filmmaker has shot footage for weddings and corporations, it’s his friends’ bands that seem to keep him busiest. And that makes sense because local hip-hop is kind of what got him into video production in the first place.

Anderson studied videography at Blue Ridge Community College, “but I started making music videos, and doing more video stuff and going to school less,” he says. One of his ongoing projects is the vlog “Julia Dreads” with his girlfriend, Julia Fowler, but Anderson says he started making videos with local rapper Hunter Bennett, a friend from high school. “I was filming skateboard videos when I was a kid and was always wanting to do something with a camera,” says Anderson. “But I was musically inclined and I liked hip-hop a lot. I was like, ‘How can I be a part of it?'”

That answer can be found on the filmmaker’s YouTube page where he’s posted more than 100 videos over four years. They range from short experimental clips to elaborate, conceptual projects with groups like Free Radio. The video for that band’s song “Coolin In My Mind” uses different filters and stop motion photography to capture the beachy feel of the track.

Other artists Anderson has worked with include Comet West, Chachillie, Philo Reiltzel, Alpha Lee and Martin Snoddy. A fairly new collaborator is Free the Optimist, a hip-hop collective based in Boone and Asheville. “I met C. Shreve,” Anderson says of one of FTO’s rappers. “He motivated me because he’s so driven. He’s teaching classes at AppState and then traveling across the state [to play shows]. That’s what you’ve got to do to progress — you’ve got to constantly work on your craft.”

The amount of time it takes to produce a video depends on the level of organization it requires and the level of effects going into it. “Timing with the beat [requires] more cuts to be on time with the bass drum or the snare clap,” says Anderson. “You have to figure out how to do those cuts so it flows with what you’re seeing visually. …And you always want to add variety. My main focus is making sure it flows with the beat. Sometimes it takes me a day to do a video and other times it takes me a couple of weeks.”

It stands to reason that if Anderson likes a song, it’s easier for him to create a video around it. “But usually I learn to grow and like the songs I’m making videos with,” he says. “I listen to them so much they’re ingrained in my head.” That affinity leads him to think differently about different songs, applying various techniques to craft the best visual for the piece of music it represents. “For Mike L!ve’s video, I wanted something real fast-paced because he raps in triple time,” Anderson says. “Everytime I’m making a video I’m thinking, ‘How can I make it different — not just from my own videos but from the whole spectrum of videos I’m seeing?'”

That personal challenge, Anderson says, is tough. But the ultimate goal is to have fun with the work, and usually out of that comes a good end-product. “I always make sure I enjoy it,” he says. “If I feel like I’m not enjoying it, it takes away from the beauty of it.”

See more of Anderson’s work at his YouTube channel. Contact him at andrewandersonproductions [at]


About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.