Hi Reddit, Joseph Kahn here. I directed and self funded POWER/RANGERS, the fan film starring Katee Sackhoff and James Van Der Beek, produced by Adi Shankar. The thing that wrecked your facebook for a couple days until it was taken down off the web.

I also directed the cult movie DETENTION, which I self funded, and the greatest movie of all time, TORQUE, which I did not self fund because Ice Cube is expensive.

I am a music video director. Recently directed Taylor Swift’s Blank Space. Past credits include Britney Spears, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, U2, Justin Timerlake, Muse, Rihanna, and lots more. Here’s a totally humble article about my work:


I also direct commercials…Adidas, Mercedes, Samsung, Sprite, Covergirl, Johnny Walker, and other things you eat, drink, drive or wear.


My Proof: https://twitter.com/JosephKahn/status/571205884048617473

(RIP Leonard Nimoy)

Comments: 370 • Responses: 47  • Date: 

kamenr2j97 karma

Hi, Joe. My name is Eric, an aspiring filmmaker and I bug you on Twitter a lot (I also wrote this about you if you remember: http://www.thedishh.com/tk-music-videos-from-taylor-swift-s-blank-space-director-you-already-love). I’ve been a fan of your work since I was 8 watching Backstreet Boys's “Everybody” (influence from an older sister). I thought it was the most balls-crazy thing I had ever seen. If you do the math though, that also means I grew up on Power Rangers, and still love it. Consider it my Star Wars. So it was honestly really bizarre for me to see these worlds collide.

Before I ask about Power Rangers or POWER/RANGERS, I have a few questions about your career.

  1. Broadly speaking, what influenced the look of “Blank Space”? It has this incredible aesthetic I fail to describe eloquently. That video is kind of an obsession of mine, I’ve been studying it and taking notes.

  2. On Wikipedia, it goes from you dropping out at 1990 until the creation of SuperMega in 1999. What happened in those early years that got you recognized? How did you get your name out there? (This is for both curiosity and advice.)

  3. How difficult is it to compromise your vision with the vision of the musician? I would imagine two artists with wildly different backgrounds will inevitably butt heads.

  4. What is an advantage indie filmmakers had when you were starting out that indie filmmakers today don’t?

  5. Correct me if I’m wrong (might have the name mixed up), but are you still trying to make Adobe Premiere your bitch? I’m not a master at all but I empathize, it took me awhile too.

  6. Not a question, just wanted to say you’re lucky for getting to shoot Shakira and Rihanna and Mariah and Britney flirt with your camera.

About POWER/RANGERS. I’m one of those weird adult (I’m 23) fans but I swear I don’t wear cargo shorts.

  1. I love Power Rangers because “it’s everything.” To me, it’s Star Wars/Saved By the Bell/Voltron/Shaw Brothers all in one. As a dumb millennial, why do older generations and film critics think it’s silly? I don’t think “Power Rangers” is Andrei Tarkovsky, but it has been good and I just want to know why I can’t have a real discussion about it in our pop culture.

  2. After I saw Detention (still in love with it), I legitimately thought you would be a great filmmaker for an official film because of your sharp portrayal of teenagers. Why then, did you make your Power Rangers adults?

  3. What were the reactions of James Van Der Beek and Katee Sackhoff when you first pitched it to them? Your name carries weight, but if it were me I’d worry they’d think I’m wasting their time when I tell them “Power Rangers.”

  4. Haim Saban is a pretty ruthless billionaire who hasn’t allowed his product age with the fans. He tries very hard to aim for middle America — i.e., be as inoffensive as possible and aim for kids who have parents with deep pockets. A) What is it like to ruffle those feathers? B) If POWER/RANGERS actually does make the real product dark and gritty, would you consider your experiment to be successful or a failure? (In the sense that the intent was to satirize gritty pop nostalgia, after all.)

I’m sorry if again for the onslaught of questions, but thank you so much. I really admire your work, vision, and humor. I really hope to follow your career in someway. Gonna go watch #Beautiful while I wait for your response.

kamenr2j3 karma

Hi everyone,

Thank you all for responding saying I should have been answered. Once again, I still believe it was kind of dickish of me to ask NINE questions, so I have no hurt feelings. But maybe one day I'll be worthy of an AMA and do the exact opposite but who knows.

I honestly don't comment on Reddit often, but I lurk enough. Thanks again, strangers. Love y'all.

JosephKahn15 karma

Hey just caught this. I apologize if I appeared rude but I was literally studying legal contracts to get POWER/RANGERS back up while doing this reddit and I just didn't have time to read long paragraphs. I was only going to do it for an hour and wanted to give everyone a shot at their questions. Also I think I've answered most of your questions in other redditors posts but to answer some of your questions:

  1. Blank Space's symmetrical compositions are influenced by Stanley Kubrick.

  2. Dropped out of film school and moved back to Texas and started my own company at age 20. Started by making low budget rap videos for drug dealers and went from there.

  3. Artists can have different visions, so I try to filter out submissions to people who seem like they'll hire me for my actual vision. Doesn't always pan out, but I try to select them as much as they select me.

  4. Indie filmmakers have digital everything, which is a humongous cost advantage over when I started. Fuck film.

  5. I just edited with Adobe Premiere on my last commercial on set. It still feels like a toy to me due to it's emphasis on graphic manipulation. Still getting used to it, but at least I got through the whole ad this time.

  6. Yes. I'm lucky.

Thanks for the questions. Good luck on your endeavors.

JosephKahn-42 karma

Jesus this is a lot. Can you break this down into tiny separate questions. It's the internet yo. Make it short.

FondleMyButtox45 karma

What's next for the Power/Rangers? Will it ever go back up on YouTube? (Trying to keep it alive by sending people the Dropbox link for it) Also, what advice do you have for an aspiring young filmmaker? -Riley

JosephKahn117 karma

I am literally at my agent's office signing paperwork right now to get it back on. You should see it soon. Internet YOU WON.

Deathstroke428940 karma

Hey Joseph! So, POWER/RANGERS was awesome, we watched it in my Advanced Video class like 4 times. My question is, have you been in contact with the original creators of the show? If so, what has been their general reaction? Thanks!

JosephKahn70 karma

Umm you could say I have been contacted by the original creators of the show, yes......(haha)

beforesandafters31 karma

Can you discuss the visual effects collaborations?

JosephKahn84 karma

Everytime I do a movie the visual effects company INGENUITY ENGINE suffers because I ask them to do a lot of shit for nothing. Like they worked 6 months on this and took a bath financially. This short could not have been made without their talent and sacrifice. But they're friends of mine and we go way back. I also give them a shit ton of real high paying work. So suck it up guys.

mistermartian27 karma

Seriously... What was up with the Britney Spears "Perfume" video? Britney's video catalog is defined by "Toxic," "Womanizer" and "Stronger." "Perfume" (from the leaked pictures in the beginning) looked like it was going to be crazy. What really happened for us to end up with Britney laying like a corpse around for 3 minutes?

Edit: Spelling.

JosephKahn45 karma

I shot something COMPLETELY different. I got Sabaned on the edit.

anonsenseusername25 karma

A number of your videos, including P/R, include porn stars in the cast. Why is this?

JosephKahn99 karma

Have you met porn stars? They're actually some of the sweetest people in the world.

zaahnjanson24 karma

What, in your opinion, is the biggest thing wrong with film production today? For Example, do you think it is Studio intervention with creative input? Do you feel that it detracts from the artistic value of Actors, Directors, and Producers be collaborative? Do you have an idea of what we as movie-goers and as a society as a whole could do to get expressive and new ideas onto film for the general public?

JosephKahn126 karma

I'm not a studio blaming guy. This business is run by people and people are all flawed and nuts. Especially in the creative field. We are all fucking insane. I think the biggest problem is the R rating. In POWER/RANGERS was making a point about the ratings system. The people who want me to tone this down and make this a "PG-13" version - you know how I do that? Take out a few fucks and take out the blood when there's a gunshot. That's it. And suddenly everyone would have their kid friendly PG-13. But what exactly is that? The absurdity is people will accept this very short as entertainment for kids as long as you show guns are bloodless and people just kind of fall down when they get hit. This is a weird hypocricy of the ratings system, commercial necessity rather than a moral one. Even before PG-13 was invented a PG film like RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK would show that guns, when shot at someone, would blow blood off his head into the lens. So this film is a response to that and making a more honest depiction of this sort of violent entertainment. To get a PG-13 all I have to do is cut our the cursing, keep the killings but just sanitize them. And no tits.

Frajer22 karma

Which music video was your favorite to shoot?

JosephKahn78 karma

Muse Knights of Cydonia. I got to do whatever I wanted for 3 days in Romania on an abandoned set for COLD MOUNTAIN. I got to go nuts with crew members and actors trapped in the middle of nowhere. Apocalypse Kahn.

wiglyfe20 karma

You stated that you basically paid for this film (POWER/RANGERS) out of pocket. This film looked amazing. What was the budget you were able to pull this off with?

JosephKahn54 karma

More than a Mercedes. Less than a condo in Los Angeles.

ryann_eliza18 karma

We watched your Power/Rangers short film at least 100 times. What do i have to do for this to become a thing? A show, a movie, anything! It was amazing.

JosephKahn12 karma

I strictly made it as a short film. No interest in making it a real movie. It's designed to be 14 minutes, no more no less.

iamjacksprofile10 karma

That being said, do you have a rough sketch in your head for how the story WOULD go if it WAS made into a full length feature?

JosephKahn7 karma


ansonworry18 karma

Transformers: What was your premise? How close did you get to directing it? Is there any concept art you could post?

JosephKahn65 karma

I pitched this to Sony before Bay got on board. I actually pitched the idea that the Transformers crashed to earth and was the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. Then they wake up today. It had nukes in it.

liamquane18 karma

What has been your biggest on-set problem and if it was; how did you solve it?

JosephKahn33 karma

Katee only had one day to shoot her interrogation scene so I had to shoot all her shots first. Then I had to back through all the set-ups and shoot James, regardless of which way the camera was pointing. Holy shit, that was tough to keep track of in my head.

tmntnut17 karma

What inspired you to want to make this film? Besides the power rangers being awesome of course.

JosephKahn100 karma

I can't front that I'm a fan of Power Rangers. Most people when they do projects always say they're fans but 90% are lying just to please the fans. I was already shaving in 1993 when Power Rangers came out. It was aimed at 12 year olds. I would have been weird as fuck if I was going into clubs raving about a reappropriated Sentai show for kids. I would have never gotten laid (which I didn't anyway so what did it matter). It was an interesting experiment to play with reboot culture and tone control. When I finally made it I was fully invested in the characters and the property but I didn't come into it to please a fan base, per se, but to experiment with pop culture.

Dontsexcrazy17 karma

I enjoy your music videos (Especially with MUSE).

It seems many missed the point of the Power Rangers short. I saw it as a satire on the Hollywood reboots of franchises to be dark and gritty. Was it your point to do that intentionally to see the reaction of the film going over everyone's heads? I loved it. The Beek and Sackoff were awesome!

JosephKahn93 karma

Parody in that it is a conceptual straight faced hyperbole. Every scene is straightfaced and serious and believable. If you watched it and enjoyed every minute of it literally - you're not stupid, you're honest. That's what I wanted. And when it ended and you laugh and go what the fuck did I just watch, you're acknowledging you just legitimately enjoyed a fucking Might Morphin Power Rangers movie where they fucked porn stars, did coke, and blew people's brains out a face value. THAT'S irony, THAT's the comedy, THAT's the parody.

Sugreev200116 karma

Why does Adi Shankar dress like the Indian ex of Ramona Flowers?

JosephKahn11 karma

Adi is the coolest motherfucker on the planet, and I've met a lot of motherfuckers on this planet.

Sugreev200114 karma

Can he summon Demon Hipster Chicks at will and hurl fireballs?

JosephKahn3 karma

He can do something way more impressive. He can summon Katee Sackhoff to make a Power Rangers fan film. So don't piss him off.

EtaKuramNaSmekh14 karma

How did you put Power/Ranger together and why was it taken down?

JosephKahn62 karma

I was going to a sci fi short anyway with Russ Bain (Tommy, green ranger) and Adi Shankar convinced me to make it about Power Rangers. I self funded it and shot it over 7 days. It was taken down because it was awesome.

LordWaffleDog13 karma

Hey Joe! Did you ever approach T-Swift to play the Pink Ranger?

JosephKahn41 karma

T-Swift's powers are too great to be a Ranger. She would never be taken down by Rita. She don't fuck around.

Throwawaywolfie8712 karma

Would you advice aspiring film makers to go to film school? So many directors don't exactly recommend it.

JosephKahn26 karma

I went to film school for one year but I snuck into 4 years of classes illegally, learned what I wanted, and dropped out. Took me 10 years to pay off the loan for that 1 year of NYU.

ObviousManiac13 karma

What did you learn illegally that you couldn't learn on your own?

JosephKahn27 karma


voltysquirrel8 karma

Hi! So, I'm a huge fan of your stuff. In particular I really dug Detention. In fact, I actually used your film as the basis of an assignment for my film class. The assignment involved me dissecting the use of sound and editing in a scene from a film, and I chose to use the musical montage/reverse-passage-of-time scene from the film. Just curious, can you elaborate on how you came up with that scene from the film, how it was filmed, and if there were any particular challenges filming and editing it? Thanks!

JosephKahn5 karma

I did it with a dolly and timing, no motion control. I had Walter Perez who played Elliot Fink and a body double dress identically run around and switch places behind the camera as I dollied and then used their shifting places to wipe into the next scene. Took a couple hours.

OGBatman7 karma

You seem to be comfortable with poking fun at yourself i.e. references to 'Torque' in Detention. What do you think is the best mistake you've learned from on a production?

JosephKahn6 karma

Not making my intentions completely clear with producers.

ThugPoet5 karma

In POWER/RANGERS, I can't seem to find Cestria while she's mentioned in the credits played by a Steffane Melanga. Can you point her in the film? Thanks

JosephKahn10 karma

She's the woman standing behind Billy Cranston in his interview.

JeppyBass5 karma

Did you always want to be a filmmaker? What film has had the biggest impact on your life?

JosephKahn13 karma

I wanted to be an actor. Raiders of the Los Ark impacted me. I wanted to be Indiana Jones. I thought about being an archeologist. But I really just wanted to be Indiana Jones. But then I figured out I wan't very good looking and I should just direct.

TheSharkFromJaws4 karma

I like Torque a lot. That scene on top of the train made Otto Priminger look like Uwe Boll. Are you doing Fast and Furious 8?

JosephKahn7 karma

Do you want me to?

BadgerCourtJudge4 karma

Who's your favourite power ranger and why is it Jason?

JosephKahn2 karma

Austin St. John is the shit.

Catman014 karma

What advice would you give a young film maker?

JosephKahn10 karma

Don't quit.

hokku3 karma

Neuromancer is personally significant book for me and I know you were attached to direct it for a while. You seemed to genuinely care about the source material as well.

How would you have approached a Neuromancer movie and how would you pitch it to people who hold it in similarly high regard considering your previous films were very different?

JosephKahn6 karma

I was going to do it like Trainspotting.

recursion3 karma

I really liked the concept, special effects, and throwbacks in the POWER/RANGERS fan-film, but I'm curious what happened with the sound mixing. Was it meant to be watched with surround sound? Headphones? I found myself constantly adjusting my speaker's volume, and dialogue was very difficult to hear.

JosephKahn4 karma

I had to make a choice as to what sounded best since acoustics completely change according to what speakers systems are being used. Headphones are best for this sfx heavy mix. It's mixed for lonely people on a friday night surfing porn while their partner is asleep.

ahnmin3 karma

Faizon Love once threw a lot of shade on you when he was on “Dinner for Five”, calling you “some Japanese dude from Texas”, implying that you didn’t know anything about urban culture and that he wasn’t too thrilled with your directing (to say the least).

How did you feel about this? Have you kept in touch with Faizon? And how would you respond to his criticism?

Source: http://youtu.be/ATutUoccDBU?t=23m20s

JosephKahn8 karma

He got fired when he got in a fight with the AD and producer. I had nothing to do with it. I felt bad. Then he did that shit on that show. I dunno. People are people.

liamquane3 karma

Do you have any advice on set control?

JosephKahn12 karma

Pay people a lot of money.

JosephKahn3 karma

Thanks everyone! I'm out!

Minifig812 karma

Can we get Jason David Frank, maybe David Yost, maybe Amy Jo Johnson in one if you decide to do another?

razgrizzeroone1 karma

JDF wants no part of it and would rather tow the Saban company line.

JosephKahn4 karma

JDF fibbed or was mistaken with another other project. I never asked him to be in this. The only original cast member I wanted was Carla Perez who played Rita. I thought that would be a cool unexpected callback cuz you never give the villain any love.

alexbackes2 karma

I am just here for the nerd Rage...

Also, JK... What is your favorite movie?

JosephKahn5 karma

Schindler's List. The filmmaking is astounding. But I only watch it once a decade. Too brutal.

Reasonable-redditor2 karma

What do you define as your style? The subject of your videos are so different (from TORQUE to Taylor Swift), but you have these great camera moves that I love.

JosephKahn1 karma

I have a style, but I don't have a style. I'll switch up camera movements and editing ideas depending on what my goals are. I think more from a fundamental idea of how visuals work as opposed to how to work my visuals, if that makes any sense.

Username_is_cool1 karma

In the Hitfix piece about POWER/RANGERS, you said fan films and porn were the lowest forms of filmmaking. Can you elaborate? I mean, I get the porn thing, but there is artistic merit to be found in some fan films, man.

Thanks for doing this AMA!

EDIT: words

JosephKahn3 karma

I personally don't have a problem with porn. It's actually more original than fan films. There's some serious creativity going on. People always trying to figure out new things to do with their holes.

ObviousManiac1 karma

Hey Joe,

Been a fan ever since I saw Knights of Cydonia. Blew my mind and set me on a path towards the music video industry. So thanks for that!

Anyways, I'm wondering if you have any tips for writing treatments and winning bids.

Like, do you ever pitch differently depending on the commissioner/artist? What's more important - your idea for the video you're pitching - or the work you've done in the past to back up the fact that you know what you're doing?

idk I feel like I lose a lot of bids simply because my portfolio is mostly narrative work / MVs are bands I know personally.

JosephKahn4 karma

Figure out what everyone else is doing and do the opposite.

joepescisballs1 karma

What methods did you use to get funding?

JosephKahn15 karma

I paid for it myself. But a couple rich friends threw in a little money when they saw it just because they wanted to. Seriously. I didn't need it. They were like this is cool, we were going to just bet it on golf. Go buy some more blood shots. Not kidding.

SaltySteveD871 karma


I appreciate that you wanted to do this fan film and make it "dark and gritty" and all I think it can be done with Power Rangers. But how exactly did assault rifles, excessive (but not stylized) violence, gratuitous swearing (resulting in awkward dialogue), pointless nudity and drug usage and a complete lack of a heavy metal soundtrack remind you of Power Rangers? Surely there's better ways to make a childhood show more adult.

But kudos for doing the thing that you did.

JosephKahn11 karma

It's not necessarily made for Power Ranger fans NOW, especially kids. It was made for Power Rangers fans in the 90's who grew up and out of it. I'm making a piece of nostolgia for adults in their late 20's and 30's, who haven't thought about them in a minute. And I think that is the vast majority of people in the world. If you're 30 and still into Power Rangers and dress up in the costumes and all that, then more power to you, but this is not for you.

GraceDoran1 karma

Dude that power ranger thing was awesome and now I find out u directed Blank space. I freaking love you for this!

My question is why is Kimberly Hart blonde?

JosephKahn3 karma

Hair color is so superficial of a character trait. I just don't find it important at all to the core of the character.

AtticusMaximus1 karma

How did Tony "Madness" Gomez come to play the part of Bulk? I'm a big fan of his battle rap Career.

JosephKahn2 karma

I love his work.

moosebear74760 karma

will you PLEASE PLEAS PLEASE PLEASE make a part 2 of the power rangers?! seriously your take deserves a full movie. i hope i'm not alone when i say a kickstarter could take off for this project

JosephKahn3 karma

I'm iffy about kickstarter. If people have free money laying around I wish they would give it to charity. Or their moms. Moms need money.