The Story Behind Donald Glover and Hiro Murai’s Creative Love Affair
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Doomsday Entertainment founder Danielle Hinde tells LBB's Addison Capper about playing Cupid for the duo that made Childish Gambino’s This Is America and a whole host more
“They are two of the most kind, humble and inspired people I’ve ever met. Every project we’ve worked on has been an absolute joy - how they collaborate is truly a sight to behold.”
These are the words of Danielle Hinde, founder and EP at Doomsday Entertainment. The two people she is speaking of are Donald Glover - aka Childish Gambino - and director Hiro Murai; the duo behind the internet-breaking music video ‘This Is America’.
But ‘This Is America’ is just the latest in a long line of creative collaborations between the pair that began back when Danielle was head of sales at Partizan in LA and she came across Hiro while he was still in school. “One of our directors had a small production company, which was a collection of his USC pals,” she recalls. “Hiro was one of them and even though he was still in school he would often work as a VFX artist or DP on some of our projects. I gave him a shot to write a treatment for a super low budget Bloc Party video and we ended up booking it. I remember when I first read the treatment I was shocked something that dark came from such a sweet, quiet kid.
“To this day, it’s still one of the most bizarre videos he’s done. It definitely gave me a small glimpse into the inner workings of that brilliantly disturbed brain of his.”
Sometime later, Hiro had just completed work on the tour visuals for a musician and Danielle got chatting to Donald’s manager on a set that both he and Partizan were involved in. Donald needed visuals and content for his upcoming Childish Gambino album, so Danielle and Donald’s manager - Danielle had launched Doomsday by this point - organised for them to meet at Soho House, “and the love affair began,” Danielle muses.
“During this time, Hiro was evolving his style into more of a Glazer/Lynch aesthetic as opposed to the pop/R&B work we were doing previously,” she adds. “I also knew that Gambino’s persona was VERY different from Donald Glover’s, and for his new album they wanted to take it in a surreal and dark direction. I was trying to develop Hiro’s reel to complement his style and actively looking for projects within that world, so I thought it would be a perfect match. I could have never anticipated how much so!”
The combination of Donald’s ability to generate “an endless amount of ideas” and Hiro’s knack of giving those ideas his own spin “in a completely organic way” has led to some of Danielle’s favourite videos she’s ever produced during her career, she admits. But there’s one - in part due to the face that she produced it on her honeymoon - that is a particular favourite.
“100% it would be Childish Gambino’s ‘Telegraph Ave’. My husband and I just got married and we were scheduled to shoot the video shortly after in Hawaii - so it quickly became #doomsdayhoneymoon. We flew our crew from LA, so we had our A-team with us on a shooting vacation. It was one of those jobs where roles went out the window, and we all had to throw down and contribute - at one point, I was acting as a PA and picture car driver and did so gladly. It was so special and otherworldly to have us all in paradise together making a video that was essentially a rom-com version of ‘Alien’.
“A working trip in Kauai was also slightly torturous - it was a bit manic producing and shooting all the locations/vignettes, and we would often be looking out at the beach longingly from our hotel rooms as we were staring at screens. Our flights got messed up on the way back so Hiro and I got “stuck” in Hawaii for another day where a ridiculous amount of mai tais were consumed. It’s also where Hiro started my own personal hashtag #EPsBeLike with various photos of me lounging as our line producer was pulling his hair out. PA work can be tiring.”
Danielle has also handpicked her favourite Glover-Murai projects to date - including This Is America - and offered up some inside info on each of them. Enjoy.
Clapping – May 2013
"It was the first time I was introduced to Chance the Rapper and was instantly obsessed. I also fangirled out with Topanga from ‘Boy Meets World’ being in it."
Because the Internet album teaser – 2013
"We shot this in the pool of Donald’s producer’s house, Ludwig Goransson."
3005 – Nov 2013
"This was at the beginning of an era I lovingly called ‘Hiro’s Fucking Night Shoots’. Everything he wrote had to be a night shoot. It was cute in the beginning and then years later we all began to revolt."
Two for one video: Sweatpants/Urn – April 2014
"Donald wore the exact same white t-shirt, shorts and tennis shoes in all the videos we shot for Because the Internet. I felt especially bad for his attire in this video since it was a very frigid night shoot in the woods."
Telegraph – May 2014
"Fun fact: when shooting in the Hawaiian jungle, you have to wear helmets because of all the falling coconuts. We somehow missed this memo, so much of the shoot involved a lot of us playing Frogger but with coconuts falling from 100-foot trees in the middle of the night."
Sober – Dec 2015 – Won at SXSW
"We shot this at Zankou Chicken in LA and ate the most amazing shawarma and hummus all night."
This is America
"I didn’t have childcare when we shot the video, so my nine-month old had to come with me to set. There are a lot of photos of her posted up on the directors’ chairs, dancing to playback and hanging out with Uncle Donald and Hiro. It will be a fun memento for her to have considering the huge cultural impact the video ended up making. We were also one of the last productions to shoot in that location since it’s scheduled to be demolished, so it will forever be remembered by ‘This is America’. It goes without saying, I was so proud of our boys for making something so poignant and brilliant. I couldn’t help but reminisce on where it all began and how far they have come, while remaining the most gracious humans I’ve ever met."