Katy Perry eats out of Kiwi director's hands

Asking Katy Perry to eat a giant slice of watermelon on camera was never on Joel Kefali's to-do list.

But that's where the Kiwi music video director found himself during the shoot for Perry's new song This is How we Do, with the results described as "bright, colourful and simply cray-cray".

Since being released on Friday, the video from Perry's new album PRISM, which she will tour here in December, has more than 7.8 million views on Youtube.

In it, as described by Rolling Stone, she "enters a hyper-stylized, pastel-soaked pleasure dome", populated by animated tacos, twerking ice-creams and pop-art inspired designs.

"I didn't put her through her paces too hard," jokes Kefali, who graduated Unitec in Auckland with a design degree in fine art and animation in 2005.

He has found his work in increasing demand in the United States since directing Lorde's Royal last year, which has 315 million Youtube hits.

"There were definitely a lot of cold calls from labels and artists and complimentary emails after that which was nice," the 30-year-old Kefali said from his Auckland home.

"Because there's so many people looking at her and what she's putting out there, it has definitely has helped my work. I think that is what the Lorde project has done for a lot of people."

Earlier this year, Kefali approached Doomsday Entertainment in the United States to see if they would partner with him to produce a video for an artist he was working with.

He was signed as one of the company's artists, and Perry asked him to provide a "treatment", or script for her new single - which she loved.

"I was trying to fully interpret the pop nature of Katy Perry, because I hadn't done any straight down the line pop videos before. My idea was to make a pop video but to keep some edge to it, and make it feel like it was pop art," he says.

"We did a studio-based shoot where we used lots of animation and props, and then each line of the song had it's own little vignette. I wanted to do something that was close to the work I'd already done. I like mixed media, jumping between live action and animation, and I focus more on design."

It was in complete contrast to the moody, washed-out video he did for Royals, but it was important to capture Perry's aesthetic, he says.

"If you look at my work [those] are probably the two extremes, and everything else I've done probably falls within the gap of those two jobs. Part of being a designer is having your own style but I want to show what the artist is about as well.

"With Royals there was a clean slate with Lorde to do whatever we wanted, and that was great, and it was very true to what Ella and I wanted. With Katy Perry you're making a video that is part of a large body of work that already exists. You just have to trust your ideas and go for it."

The shoot for This is How We Do with Perry took three days in Los Angeles with 60 crew, with another day of shooting the slow-mo scenes with the rest of the cast and six weeks for post-production. Perry was easy to work with, Kefali says.

"She's great, she's got a good sense of humour, she's very creative herself and she had a lot of ideas and involvement in the shoot."

A decade ago, Kefali would never have thought he'd be directing the likes of Perry. But for a director who had already made videos for the likes of David Dallas, The Naked and Famous and Tame Impala with his own company Special Problems, there had to be a next step.

"When I first started making videos I was a big Mint Chicks fan and I just wanted to make a video for them," Kefali said.

"Then I did, and I thought 'oh, what's next?' and I decided to just keep doing what I do."

Sunday News