Get to know Jake Linden, the man behind Yakub Films

What’s going on man, introduce yourself

What’s up everyone, my name is Jake Linden, aka Yak of Yakub Films. I have a couple different of hats here in Chicago, I’m a director, editor, DP, designer, and creative director.

How was life growing up?

Life was awesome. I grew up in the woods a lot, as I was raised in Yorkville. As a kid I had a different childhood than the other students, I was really into extreme sports like Motocross, skateboarding, and snowboarding, while the majority of kids were into football. In high school I begun to get involved with art heavily, by my JR year I took all of the art classes the school offered, and SR year they allowed me to create and do art half of the day. I was able to paint murals throughout the school it was an awesome experience.

Did you begin to find your creative talents at a young age, or as you begun to get older?

I’d say I got into my creative talents at a young age. I remember one of my favorite presents I received was a drawing pad with colored pencils. I always found more joy in creative imagination than the real world. 

How did you first start getting involved in graphic design?

I got into graphic design in my SR year of high school. I was in a class where our class had to create a school theme poster for a contest, and I ended up winning. After winning the contest I was able to turn that design into a mural I was able to paint that hung at the entrance of our school. 

In college, you decided to switch up from majoring in Graphic Design to Cinematography. What caused the transition?

I was in my 2nd year of college at the time attending Columbia. During this time, I was going through some depressive stages and started going through all different medications for anxiety, which caused me to get even more depressed and brainless, I wasn’t able to come up with anything. I ended up dropping out of Columbia in 2010 and ended up going to work construction and live on a farm. While working construction, I was able to make some good money, and I figured I should buy a camera because there was so much I could shoot. I finally got my camera, and the first thing I started filming was skateboarding. Immediately I started to get a lot of attention and encouragement from my peers, and I thought to myself, maybe I could do this foreal. I decided then it would be right for me to go back to school and earn a degree. Next week I called Tribeca, showed them my work, and I ended up receiving a scholarship.

Did your love for skateboarding make you want to get involved with cinematography?

In a sense I guess you could say that. I learned that skateboarding never ends if you get with the right people, you could film all the time, make movies, clips, short films, behind the scenes, and I made sure to do all of that. I knew that I had what it takes and I went as far as I could with it. I started working with Get Real Clothing, Character Skateboards, Chaz Ortiz, and begun to really make a name for myself. After a while I realized I was investing too much time, while financially it wasn’t supporting me. One day I decided to switch things up and shoot a music video for my friends band and it ended up turning out amazing. I realized that this was a sign, I need to stick to my guns, and everything will eventually work out.

Video/photo first? How did you transition to the other?

I started with video first, but then I started transitioning into photo the more music videos and concerts I started to attend. I tend to do both sometimes, but my first focus is video, while photo has always been the fun side for me.

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It’s hard to put in context, but do you think you would be in the position you are in today if you continued majoring in Graphic Design?

No, I don’t think so. If I continued with Graphic design I probably would be equivalent on the talent, but I’d be in a completely different industry.

Would you say directing Hurt Everybody’s 2k47 music video help break you out into the hip-hop scene?

Hell yeah, that was truly the beginning. I’ll never forget that day. I remember having this nice camera and I wanted to shoot something, I reached out to everyone. Wi5am from Hurt Everybody ended up replying and telling me to meet them out in Fulton Market. I ended up driving out there and we recorded the video in my truck in 45 minutes. The next day I finished editing the 2k47 video and sent it to them and they loved it. When the video was posted, it ended up blowing up. I remember editing it, knowing it was going to blow up. Major shoutout to Hurt Everybody for giving me the opportunity to shoot 2k47, that video shaped what is happening now.

Following that video, you have been able to work with Chance The Rapper as well. How has it been being able to work alongside the hometown hero Chance?

Chance is awesome. I’m honored to have been able to work with him, and consider him a friend of mine. He’s a big inspiration to me, I remember when I was failing film school and everyday I would listen to Acid Rap, and now I’m able to work with him on projects.

How big of influences are Austin Vesely and Elijah Alvarado to you?

I’ve been looking up to them forever. They are easily my biggest influences, not because of their experience, but because of the vision they have been blessed with, it’s infectious. On top of that, they are just my boys man, we have the funniest lingo. Ya buds. 

When working with artists putting together videos, how important is it to develop a good relationship with them before hand?

There are two sides to this question. I tend to get a lot of inquiries now, some want to work with me because it could help boost their exposure, and people want to work with me because they truly enjoy my work and vision. I’ve learned that we don’t have to develop a relationship beforehand, but during the shooting and editing process, we begin then to develop a connection. I think having a relationship with the artists is cool creatively, but at the end of the day I still run a business.

You’ve recently listed Trap Karaoke event as being your favorite client. Why is that?

Not only do I get to travel, but also the event is for a greater purpose. The crowd is 95% African American and they look to promote pride, pride in your race and community. I like to be able to participate and be around them, to me this is much deeper than just a client.

Looking back on it over the years, what has been the most meaningful video you have been able to direct?

The most meaningful piece to me was the Sigi documentary piece. Once I finished the piece and showed it to him, he began crying, he was so happy. When I won the award for the documentary, we both started crying at the event. The film means so much to Sigi and I, he’s literally my older brother.

What is one type of film would you love to work on in the near future that you haven’t worked on yet?

I would really like to do a narrative film. I’ve never done one before, and I feel like every piece I have ever done format wise has had my own taste. I feel like if I was able to do a narrative film it would be awesome.

Who is one artist out of Chicago you would really like to work with?

Artists wise I’d like to really work with Knox Fortune, Thelonious Martin, Ian Eastwood, and Bryan Allen Lamb.

When it’s all said and done, how do you Jake Linden want to be remembered?

A lot of artists can find themselves beat down, give into the industry, and then become obsolete. The legacy I want to build is like Spike Jones, where my name is stamped on my aesthetic. I’ve worked so hard to build an original style. Also, I want to be known as the artist that shaped ways for other people to feel like everything is accomplishable.

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Words By: Nicholas Rud

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