Grammy-nominated Nova Scotia director on creating music videos with a social impact

TORONTO — Nova Scotia director Andy Hines still gets emotionally overwhelmed remembering the day his Grammy-nominated music video “1-800-273-8255” went online last summer.

It was the wee hours of the morning when the reactions began to trickle in from strangers onto his iPhone. Many were young adults shaken by his seven-minute clip, which follows a black teenager struggling with his sexuality and clouded with thoughts of suicide.

“The first thing I saw was this young kid pacing around his apartment complex, really taken aback,” the soft-spoken director recalls. He said the teen was processing his thoughts about the anti-suicide music video out loud for his camera. His vulnerability stuck with Hines.

“I could never make a video like that,” he said. “It takes so much courage.”

The heart-wrenching reactions multiplied into the dozens — and then hundreds — in the days and weeks that followed as viewers tearfully spoke about managing their own suicidal feelings.

On Sunday, the Avondale, N.S., director will learn whether “1-800-273-8255” wins best music video at this year’s Grammy Awards. The song, written by rapper Logic and featuring Khalid and pop singer Alessia Cara of Brampton, Ont., has itself been an impetus for conversations about suicide.

The video, which stars actor Don Cheadle as the teen’s disapproving father, Luis Guzman as his high school coach and Matthew Modine in a bit role, has amassed nearly 195 million views on YouTube.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the U.S. says the song also led to a surge of phone calls to its support services after its release and those figures held steady in the months that followed.

“You always hope you can make something that speaks to (people),” the director said, “but we got some really tangible reactions.”

Hines, who mainly creates hip hop videos, says he strives for his work to make a wider social statement.

He won an MTV Video Music Award for Big Sean’s “One Man Can Change the World,” which paid tribute to the rapper’s grandmother, one of the first black female captains in the U.S. Army.

Around the same time he was introduced to Logic through executives at Def Jam Recordings. The two instantly became friends and began collaborating on a number of projects.

A couple of years later, the rapper approached Hines with the basic foundation of the ”1-800-273-8255.” He encouraged the director to run with the idea.

Hines started to reflect on his own experiences, the lives of people he knew, and tried to put those thoughts onto paper.

“I write at night. When everyone is sleeping I write these stories. They are coming from my heart,” he said.

One of his primarily goals is to reject the established stereotypes and expectations of the hip-hop genre by telling human stories. He pushes his artists to feature women of colour in their videos and refuses to glamorize guns.

“People try and get me to put guns in my videos sometimes and I just tell them the guns didn’t show up (on set),” he said.

“A lot of artists don’t want to work with me because that’s corny or I’m corny.”

His next project is with rapper Classified, a fellow Nova Scotian, which he says will address ongoing issues affecting Indigenous women across Canada. He hopes difficult conversations will continue to be stoked through music videos, a medium he believes has largely faded in relevance over recent years.

“The format is dead,” Hines said.

“So if you’re not doing something different with it, it’s just going to be content, which there’s a lot of these days.

“I don’t want to just be making stuff to put on a music blog.”

Just Posted

Red Deer raises $60,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation

27 brave residents rappell down Stantec Building

People hurt in rollover near Red Deer

Occupants of a vehicle that rolled south of Hwy 11A were airlifted… Continue reading

Eager-beaver cannabis entrepreneurs already waiting outside Red Deer City Hall

Appications will be accepted on a first-come basis starting on Tuesday

Like father like son: Red Deer area Dreeshen family dedicates life to public service

There are three jobs that could be considered the Dreeshen family business:… Continue reading

Restaurant owner concerned about Gasoline Alley road changes

Nearly 20 trucks were lined up on the service road in front… Continue reading

WATCH: Hypnotizing show at Westerner Days

Hynotist and mentalist Joshua Seth performs three times a day at Westerner Days

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

SUMMERLAND, B.C. — Officials in British Columbia’s Okanagan region hope that fire… Continue reading

WWII hero’s lost Purple Heart returned to his family

NEW YORK — A lost Purple Heart medal has been returned to… Continue reading

California girl, 2, accidentally shot and killed by boy, 4

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Authorities say a 4-year-old boy accidentally shot and… Continue reading

A hairy issue: Sailors tell the US Navy, ‘We want beards’

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Now that women in the Navy can wear ponytails,… Continue reading

PHOTOS: River Town Saints rock Red Deer

River Town Saints play Westerner Days Friday in Red Deer

PHOTOS: Dogs, horses and more animals at Westerner Days

Westerner Park’s pavilions were filled with animals during Westerner Days

Red Deer residents can’t get enough mini-doughnuts

Mini-doughnuts were the biggest draw to Westerner Days according to a Red… Continue reading

Four-car crash, including RCMP vehicle, on Highway 2

Two sheriff vehicles were also involved in the collision

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month