Interview: Isaac Yowman
Growing up in Missouri City Tx, producer, songwriter, and film maker, Isaac Yowman, has been in the game for over 10 years. Earning the nickname “Chill Vibes” in the music industry, Yowman is a is a multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated creative powerhouse! Seven years ago, the creative director launched one of Houston’s top multimedia firms, IYO Agency, with a goal to “put others on and create opportunities.” His determination and drive has earned him opportunities to work with many entertainers including Beyonce. Recently, Yowman collaborated with Sony Pictures and Marvel to produce the Venom Brisk Tea Campaign. Today I got a chance to speak with him about that, why collaborations are so important, his favorite Marvel movie and more!
What led you to launch your company IYO Visuals?
I wanted to create opportunities and share them with other people. I was already doing my thing as a director and I felt like it was a great way to build a team of creative people from Houston. For me that was a big thing because I was back and forth in Los Angeles. I think a lot of people get lost in the sauce and say I’m moving to L.A. They think it’s like the dream. I felt like I had a lot of knowledge about what goes on in L.A. for the past six or seven years. It was like, what can I do to help build a creative community in Houston. That's why I started IYO (Independent Young Opportunities) I just wanted to create and share opportunities. That's what we stand for. That's what we are about.
Earlier this year IYO Visuals celebrated seven years, what do you think were some of the factors that has helped you sustain this long?
First, I think that it is first professionalism. I think that goes a long way. You know in this business, or in all businesses honestly, I think people really respect professionalism. When you handle business professional and you take care of stuff on time, you meet deadlines, you prepare properly, and you have industry etiquette. I think that is what I bought from L.A. to Houston. Its crazy, I would be doing research and preparing treatments for artist and they would say, I’ve never seen anything like this, this is professional. In L.A. if you don't have these things people will laugh at you like what are you even doing? Also creating good content and surrounding myself with people who I think are just as smart or smarter than me. I always say, if you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. I try to keep creative people around form, fashion, or me that are better than me in some way, shape. If they are not smarter than me, I feel like if I walk with them long enough, I can make them at least as smart as me. Everybody should always be the clone.
How did the opportunity to collaborate with Sony & Marvel for the Venom Brisk Tea campaign come about?
I am a director under a production company in Los Angeles called "Artifact Content" and they presented the opportunity to me. It was a long string of back and fourth sending treatments, storyboards, and show that I was the director that needed to be chosen on this project. Once I got in as a director, I was able to include my team IYO Agency on the postproduction side. It was really cool and eye opening for not just me because I’ve worked on projects as big as this one, but the name on this one is what I think made it bigger. I got a chance to expose some of that to my interns at the time. I think it was a good experience for me to be able to share that journey with people around me.
It took over a year of planning, the campaign did you have any challenges during that time?
So, it didn't take a year for me. For the film, it definitely took probably more than a year. For the campaign that I did it took about four to five months. Even right now we are talking and the film still isn’t out. It was definitely a lot of planning and pre production and just making sure that the details were on point ahead of time. It was definitely a test of patience. You know when you are working on a project that long you want to tell everybody and their mama but basically you have to hold the secret. Four months is a long time but it was cool because we were also working on other projects.
If you had to choose three words to describe your campaign, what would they be and why?
Educational: I say educational because I learned a lot throughout the process. I don't act like I know everything. I know a lot, and I probably know more than most people in the realm of what I do but you can always get better.
Motivational: Doing this project really motivated me to really showcase my skills and talents. Again, I’ve worked on projects just as big as this or bigger in regards to the actual production but with the names associated with this one, I felt like I had a point to prove, like you can do this, this is light work. That motivated me to go harder and be even meticulous about the small things.
Detailed: This project took a lot of defining moments that were based on very small details. I had to pay attention to the small things. Some people say that I am nit-picky but I look at it like when you think about any project that you work on. Any big project is made up on a bunch of small things. If you are detailed on the small things then your final product will come out a better-detailed project. That is how I approached this project. I wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted the shots to be perfect so, I really took my time.
Do you have a favorite Marvel movie?
Come on! It would be “Black Panther” before “Venom.” When “Venom” comes out that will be my favorite. “Black Panther” was everything we talked about with detail. Even with me seeing the “Venom” movie. There are so many crazy details in Marvel movies. It’s ridiculous! In “Black Panther,” lets just pause, just the wardrobe, its just like, who thought of this? You have different hairstyles. It was crazy! It was a lot of attention to detail on that project and I appreciate that. As a filmmaker, whenever I can watch a movie, like if a film isn’t good, I will be noticing shots like oh, they did this like this or why did they do this like this? So I will be in the middle of a film and I cant enjoy myself. But, when I watched this film and I didn't do those things, it was a great film. It means I was engaged and I can’t point out anything that was wrong from watching it as a consumer. “Black Panther” did that for me. Yesterday (October 2,2018) was the world premiere in Hollywood for “Venom” and it definitely did it. Marvel is really god at capturing a great story and that is one thing I appreciate about them. It’s also cool because if you aren’t into comics, it’s still a great movie. That is important because some people feel like I’m not familiar with it or any of these super heroes or Marvel films make maybe. But, it is just a great movie even if you don't know. So as far as today “Black Panther” is my favorite but when October 5th comes, it will be “Venom.”
Do you feel like you have any similar characteristics to Tom Hardy’s character in “Venom?”
I think as human beings, we all do. The entire campaign is based around "we are venom." The initial play on it was obviously for the fans but bigger then that, I think the cool part about it is when you see the movie, you will get it. Its like we all have a side to us that is not the prettiest not the most beautiful, or not the most polished. The world may see it as a flaw but everyone has a little Venom in them. Meaning, a not so perfected piece. That was the bigger scope just from having conversations with Sony Pictures and talking to Marvel just trying to figure out and really lock into what Venom means. It’s bigger than the characters. I think seeing the movie really represents that. I also think that everyone has something that's not so beautiful about them but when you get to the point to appreciate it like this is what’s messed up about me but its me and its what makes me unique. So I definitely think that everyone has some Venom on them or in them.
Lets switch gears to music, you've worked with many artists in the industry, recently you and DJ XO released “Trap Tings” how did this collab come about?
Me and Xo got together to create a dope project. We have been homies for a bit. Dope Collaborations is the project. Its Afro beats mixed with Caribbean music mixed with dancehall/reggae and trap obviously. We have been getting very good reception from it.
Your love for fashion led you to invest in a premium street wear and sneaker store, so can we discuss Frost Town?
Frost Town is my new baby, which will be opening up in a few days. We are doing the soft opening in Houston. We will be having the grand opening next month at some point. It is premium street wear, sneakers, and apparel. It will be exclusive and dope items that you cannot find in the mall. Its just a different vibe, I think Houston needs it. Bigger than that, we are located in the heart of Downtown Houston. Its not many, if any stores downtown that sale what we sale in regards to high end premium fashion street wear and exclusive sneakers. Houston is becoming a melting pot for people of all diversities and ethnicities. Street wear has become popular. Even now, Versace is making sneakers. What they used to call street wear has become what they call high fashion. I’ve always had a passion for fashion. I’ve always loved getting dressed up and getting live so the store was a given. We are right downtown by Minute Maid Park at 2007 Commerce Street. We cater to men and women.
Do you have a certain piece of clothing that you can’t live without?
I can’t go without a dope, I’m not going to say bracelet but I need a piece like a wrist piece. Not necessarily a watch, and not on the left wrist. You got to come down on the right wrist. I love and I wouldn't even say they are bracelets, some of them are beaded. Some of them are metal joints. Sometimes I do leather. I got this real dope piece from Africa earlier this year, it's so dope. Its solid gold. It's rough. It isn’t polished, it isn’t clean. It’s like raw gold. When you see it, its like man, that has some history. It's one of my favorite pieces. It’s like a Cartier bracelet. They don't have any writing on them; they are just raw and rugged. The gold is matte, no shine or polish. I like having something on my wrist. I also like hats. Sometimes I might wear a fitted hat. Sometimes I may wear a dad hat. I might do a Fedora. Im going to come down the red carpet tonight in a Fedora with a Versace shirt.
What can we expect next from you?
We are already planning two years ahead. We have a lot of projects coming up. We have a few cool commercials we are about to be doing. We just bought on Adidas as a new client. We have some real dope stuff dropping for them next year. We will be doing more collabs with Sony Pictures next year. God is good!