Joseph Kahn was born in Pusan, South Korea. His family lived in Livorno, Italy until he immigrated to the United States at age 7. He began his directing career in his teens, shooting music videos for local musicians. After attending NYU Film School for a year, he dropped out to direct low budget music videos for gangster rappers.
This lead to a celebrated body of work that's included hundreds of award-winning commercials and billions of music video views. He has won multiple Grammys, MTV VMAs, Clios, Emmys, and honored with a lifetime achievement award by the UK Music Video Awards (The Icon Award).
Artists Kahn has directed videos for include Taylor Swift, Imagine Dragons, Eminem, One Republic, U2, Katy Perry, The Chemical Brothers, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Blink 182, 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. He won his first Grammy for Eminem’s “Without Me” video and his second for Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." His video for Muse “Knights of Cydonia” won the Los Angeles Film Festival Audience Award. Katy Perry’s “Waking Up in Vegas” won the MVPA Video of the Year. He won the American Country Music Award's Video of the Year for "Forever Country."
He has directed commercials for Samsung, Maybelline, Johnny Walker, Acura, BMW, Mercedes, Ford, Vodafone, Budweiser, British Telecom, Miller, Bacardi, Adidas, Asics, HP, Saab, T-Mobile, Target, Coors Light, Nascar, Burger King, and PlayStation.
2004: He made his feature film debut with the Warner Brothers cult film TORQUE. Starring Martin Henderson and Ice Cube, Kevin Thomas of the Los Angles Times wrote: “The irony is that for pure cinematic artistry it arguably outdistances some of the more prestigious current offerings. It is a very knowing venture, marking the feature debut of music video veteran Joseph Kahn.”
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 Festival as well as the Midnight Extreme Award at Spain’s Sitges. London’s Frightfest gave it the Biggest Surprise Award.
2015: Released POWER/RANGERS, a satirical self-financed "fan film" starring James Van Der Beek and Katee Sackhoff that became a phenomenon that exploded across the internet, gathering tens of millions of views in a single day and sparking global news coverage.
2017: Post production on a new feature film BODIED, a social satire set in the world of competitive battle rap.
Kahn resides in Los Angeles.