Director Joseph Kahn spent part of his childhood in Pusan, South Korea and Livorno, Italy until his family moved to Houston, Texas. He began his directing career in his teens, shooting music videos for local musicians. He eventually enrolled at NYU where after a year and a half into film school, he dropped out to direct.
Within two years Kahn executed dozens of low budge videos where he served as his own cinematographer, editor, and production designer. Moving to Los Angeles in 1995, he first signed at Visage Films, a boutique agency that ripped photographers and fashion stylists including the late Herb Ritts.
Kahn became highly sought, working with hundreds of artists such as: U2, Katy Perry, The Chemical Brothers, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Blink 182, Eminem, Wu-Tang Clan, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Aerosmith, Faith Hill, Moby, Jamiroquai, Justin Timberlake, George Michael, Kelly Clarkson, Janet Jackson, Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce, and many more. Today he is credited with launching and expanding the careers of many of his artists, and has collected multiple Music Video Production awards. He has won several MTV Music Video Awards with nominations for best video for Brandy & Monica “The Boy is Mine”, and Britney Spears “Toxic.” He won his first Grammy for Eminem’s “Without Me” video which also won the MTV VMA’s Best Video of the Year, as well as Best Director. His video for Muse “Knights of Cyndonia” won the Los Angeles Film Festival Audience Award. Katy Perry’s “Waking Up in Vegas” won the MVPA Video of the Year.
In 1999, he started his own production company, Supermega, which is now housed under HSI Productions. He has directed commercials for Samsung, Johnny Walker, Acura, BMW, Mercedes, Ford, Vodafone, Budweiser, British Telecom, Miller, Bacardi, Adidas, Asics, HP, Saab, T-Mobile, Target, Coors Light, Nascar, and Playstation. His Fox/Nascar campaign won a Clio for visual effects.
In 2004, he made his feature film debut with the Warner Brothers tongue in-cheek action film TORQUE. Starring Martin Henderson and Ice Cube, the cult motorcycle movie was a modern riff on Roger Corman popcorn flicks. Said Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times: “The irony is that for pure cinematic artistry it arguable outdistances some of the more prestigious current offerings. It is a very knowing venture, marking the feature debut of music video veteran Joseph Kahn.”
In 2011 his self financed independent film DETENTION premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival, where it was bought by Sony Pictures and released in 2012. Detention won the Youth Jury Prize at the 2011 Seattle International Film Festival. The film also won L’Écran Fantastique Prize 2011 at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Testival as well as the Midnight Extreme Award at Spain’s Sitges. London’s Frightfest gave it the Biggest Surprise Award.
Kahn resides in Los Angeles.