How I Work: Semera Khan, Visual Director, Polydor

Semera Khan has commissioned music videos for the Rolling Stones, Lana Del Rey and HAIM. We talk to her about the changing nature of music videos, dealing with the unexpected and working with artists to develop an idea


Getting into the industry Whilst I was at uni, I ended up working at Brixton Academy. I did a six-month stint in reception and got to know quite a lot of producers and managers there and that’s when I started thinking about a career in music.

When I left, I started working at a small label [Food Records] that was home to Blur and at the time all their videos went through Parlophone. There was an incredible Head of Creative there called Dilly Gent, who I spoke with as I was really interested in the visual side of music. Dilly advised me to go to a production company, so I went to Oil Factory as an assistant. From there, I worked in the creative department at EMI and essentially worked my way up – I’ve made that sound easy but it really wasn’t!

Learning about the production side of things before you become a commissioner is really helpful as it gives you an understanding of how everything works behind the scenes. If you can understand what a production company puts into a music video, then you are going to be able to make the whole process a lot easier. It’s not just about making an artist look great – there’s much more to it, such as finding the right teams and personalities (from DOPs to editors and colourists) and finding the right locations. All these things sound simple enough, but they can be really challenging, so seeing it from that side of things is really important.