Pulse Films is excited to announce the worldwide signing of award winning filmmaker Michael Haussman to its roster of commercial directors. Pulse Films will serve as Haussman’s representation for commercials, music videos and branded content projects.
Haussman is a director, writer and artist who has received international acclaim for his compelling work. He has directed music videos for Justin Timberlake, Madonna, Kanye West, Usher and Shakira, among others, and his commercial campaigns include work for Levi’s, Diesel, Absolut, Bvlgari, BMW, Coca-Cola, and more.
In 2013, Haussman wrote and directed the short film THE AUDITION, which was selected to compete in the Venice International Film Festival, and his documentary THE UNSINKABLE HENRY MORGAN premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Other films of Haussman’s include RHINOCEROS HUNTING IN BUDAPEST, BLIND HORIZON, and THE LAST SERIOUS THING. In addition to his work as a writer and director, Haussman recently created GRAVITY, a study of gravity’s effect on human emotion told through five high definition video sequences filmed at 2,000 frames per second.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have Michael join the Pulse team,” stated Pulse CEO Thomas Benski. “Michael is incredibly talented, and his ability to create content across many platforms and mediums is exactly what we are excited about in our artists.”
“At Pulse, we are interested in creators, not just directors,” said Pulse President of Commercials and Music Videos Kira Carstensen. “As a writer, director and artist working across many different creative platforms, Michael is the perfect fit for Pulse and our modern day studio.”
“For a filmmaker like me who is involved in commercials, films, documentaries, music video and art, I have never had a home in which I could facilitate all these projects. PULSE is this place,” said Haussman. “They have a unique philosophy on how to support a director and artist to find outlets for all his creative output. When I met with PULSE I was already mid-stride on a film I wrote and will direct called GOOD GUYS. Thomas Benski came on board and gave the project a new jolt of life. I see the difference between the ‘old model’ of promising a director a film, and the PULSE method, which is to immediately get involved, financially and physically. I’m very excited about our future collaborations in all art forms.”
As part of the Pulse Films roster, Haussman will be able to apply his skill for creating content across platforms and formats including through the Pulse strategic partnership with VICE.
Reclaiming Madonna’s most mature music video message
BY ARMOND WHITE WED, 2015-03-18 13:09
Beginning with a reverse striptease, Madonna’s Take a Bow enhances her usual sexual-romantic provocation. This video is all about the aftermath of a great passion. I dive into it now in response to readers’ demand after my earlier Madonna video overview. Take a Bow is the most mature of all Madonna’s videos, a major affair.
Real life torero Emilio Munoz performs as one of Madonna’s most memorable music video co-stars. (Dark-eyed, hawk-nosed Muñoz must have made quite an impression considering the bullfighting imagery repeated in Madonna’s recent Living for Love video.) Madonna pines for Muñoz’s uncommitted stud image — in person, in bed, in the corrida, and on TV. Director Michael Haussman’s cool imagery, spiked with red lipstick and blood, contrast physical remembrance (sex) with psychological delicacy (a filigreed bodice) and emotional violence (break-up, loneliness).
Take a Bow premiered in 1994, back in the days when music videos insisted that viewers notice details (such as Muñoz twirling his pink cape like a bedsheet or shifting his hip to the right, a sexual feint to tease/confuse his bovine opponent). Today, pop editing is crude, fast, incoherent. Media-makers tailor their work to ADHD dysfunction but Madonna still believed in coherence and (unlike Lady Gaga) symbolic meanings that can be interpreted.
Superior to Alan Parker’s film of Evita (1996) which was largely scuttled by Madonna’s total miscasting, Take a Bow shows Madonna in an ideal creative partnership. She’s aided by Babyface’s lovely melody, written within her vocal range so that her pleading has never been as affecting; it suits the high-tech, soft-core visual montage. Haussman uses Madonna’s typical porno teasing but adds a melancholic undercurrent. A viewer can easily believe that Haussman and Babyface, imagist and songwriter, collaborated from the start.
The video’s Spanish details fulfill Madonna’s fascination with Latin culture (the Evita movie was truly fake). She graduates from street pick-ups (Borderline) and ersatz cultural imitation (La Isla Bonita) to indulging Continental tradition. The video’s concept was timely; derived from Pedro Almodóvar’s bullfighting melodrama, Matador (1988) which had recently burst upon global pop culture. It also referenced the great Anna Magnani’s characterization as Camilla, the love object in Jean Renoir’s The Golden Coach (1952), who winces when an arrogant lover slays a bull in tribute to her. Madonna doesn’t impersonate Magnani’s commedia dell arte characterization so much as assume a modern version of the timeless, symbolic wounded: the love-wounded (depicted in shots of a fashion pin pricking her finger and blood droplets falling into a Catholic holy water fount). Take a Bow not only illustrates Madonna’s art consciousness (her appreciation of pop history from Renoir to Almodóvar), it advances those totems of classical pop art to postmodern complexity.
Thrashing languidly in her lonely bed, Madonna sinks under, and out-of, bedcovers. She eventually masturbates to TV images of her proud aloof lover slaying a beast as dispassionately as he used-then-discarded her carnal submission. (“How was I to know you’d break my heart?”) All the images of penetration, climax, sorrow, and abandon come together in Haussman’s imagistic flow, evoking menses and a woman’s heartache.
Take a Bow’s visual and musical effects are so delicate yet so piercing, they linger like a fragrance—way before Madonna initiated a perfume brand in 2012 (a scent desperately titled Truth or Dare). But the sentimental pull and memorable beauty of Take a Bow combine intimate confession with an artist’s challenge to her audience. Telling her fans to honestly bear their romantic pain is a lesson in gay solidarity.
March 15, 2015 Multimedia, Video & Short Film
This first person text by the artist examines gravity’s effect on human emotion, told through five high definition video sequences filmed at 2,000 frames per second. GRAVITY debuted in Los Angeles at Young Projects this past February as a video installation. MOH presents GRAVITY’s most dramatic moments in still images alongside Mr. Haussman’s exegesis and a video taken at the original exhibit.
Each of the five subjects is filmed in slow motion, floating upward then descending down to the earth, where they bottom out in gravity’s clutch. Yet each person is magically stationary. They do not move an inch. All that moves is their skin, cellulite, muscles, bones, and expression, creating a disturbing yet beautiful shift in body mass and emotion. Even the background stays perplexingly still. The total effect is that of a moving painting.
This slow motion study reveals the shocking effects of gravity upon our body. What is normally missed in the blink of an eye, is poetically recorded in extreme slow motion, as gravity takes hold and pulls the body down to earth, causing the skin, cellulite, muscles and facial expression to sag down, with a weariness, as if the subject has suddenly aged thirty years. It appears like a special effect, the force ripples from the legs up, turning the body wrinkled and saggy, with a worn, older face that is defeated and depressed. Then the exact opposite effect and emotion overcomes the subject as they are made weightless and set free. We observe the body becoming youthful, rejoicing in it’s expression and flawless skin texture, as it soars away from the earth. All physical and emotional expressions seem to float effortlessly upward in a positive, beautiful direction.
The lighting and color palette is created by a strong heavenly top light, used by Renaissance masters, which dramatically exposes the flesh as if it were moving brush strokes and reemphasizes the relation with the heavens, gravity and sheer weight of the world.
This emotional shift from optimistic youth to depressed old age provokes a very strong, emotional effect. Therefore, each person interacts with a simple, yet symbolic prop in order to gain more depth into this radical emotional shift.
Express Yourself: The Making of Madonna’s 20 Greatest Music Videos
Since first storming MTV in 1983 with the poetic, lo-fi “Burning Up,” Madonna’s music videos have spent more than 20 years sparking conversations about fashion, feminism, sex, religion and what you could and could not show on television. To help her realize these 67 clips — one of the most rapidly changing visions in pop history — she teamed up with some video and photography’s most celebrated artists, including David Fincher, Jean-Baptiste Mondino, Herb Ritts, Mark Romanek, Chris Cunningham, Stéphane Sednaoui, Jonas Åkerlund, Luc Besson and more.
“Madonna was the one you had to get,” says Michael Hausmann, director of her mid-Nineties clips for “Take a Bow” and “You’ll See.” “That was the video that would be the most airtime. It was, in some ways, kind of more important than having a movie out. More people were watching it, that’s for damn sure.”
To celebrate our cover star, we caught up with many of the directors behind some of the most iconic (and controversial) images in music history.
Remembers director Michael Haussman about this love story filmed in Spain, “She said, ‘OK, Here’s the song: It’s about a girl in love with a public figure. Write something, but just don’t make it dark.’ So, of course I went and wrote something really dark.” Madonna and the director met at the Ritz in Paris, tabled the discussion about his dark idea until dinner and started making small talk. “She says, ‘Well, what have you been doing?’ And I said, ‘Well, I’ve been really into filming bullfights and stuff.’ And I just saw this sparkle in her eye and suddenly I just kind of went with it. Pretty sure the while thing was written [that] night.” The sepia tinged video mixes shots of real life bullfighter Emilio Muñoz with Madonna for a clip that’s sensual, majestic and features steamy footage of the pop star writhing in front of a TV. “I thought it was going to be [difficult to direct] but then it was one of the sexiest things that I’ve ever seen,” says Haussman. “She would just play the song through and go for it.”
Michael Haussman, director: It became epic in proportions to try and actually do that video because it was such a taboo subject. There were several times when it was gonna be cancelled because of PETA getting involved, saying, “We understand you’re going to film a bullfight?” And originally I was. I was gonna try to film a bullfight where the bull gets killed and everything, and that was kind of the idea to stay true to it. And [it] became kind of obvious…we can’t stage a bullfight for a Madonna video, that’s not going to go across too well….And sure enough, it was such a fiery topic that we had to have to have the police in my office in London opening our mail because a lot of animal rights groups send letterbombs to scientists and things. The producer had a rose taped to his door and it said, “Hasta la vista, baby!” All kinds of really scary shit. I had to check under hotel under different names, which I’ve never had to do, when I was in Spain.
The bullfighting world didn’t want anything to do with someone that’s gonna come in and [try to be] commercializing them. What helped was that I had a super passion about it…I knew enough that I could say, “Listen: I want Emilio Muñoz and I can tell you about every fight he had last year, every outfit he wore and where he fought.” It was kind of funny because everyone said, “Well, he’ll never do it, Emilio Muñoz — why don’t you look at these other guys that are seeking publicity. And those are the guys you didn’t want! So that was a whole trip in itself — literally sitting in hotels in Seville, waiting to meet this guy. Waiting for four days passing — and it’s only his guys coming to scope you out and see if it’s real and it wasn’t some television show where they do pranks on people.
One thing we had to promise was that we’d never harm the bull in any way. And that became a real touchy subject because a bullfighter can’t really fight a bull unless he’s been harmed in some way. Usually they do a pick to his shoulder and that makes his head go down so that he could go use the smaller, red cloth called a muleta. So, if suddenly, we were not able to pick him or have any trace of blood on the bull, so how is he supposed to use this red cloth? She was set to fly out in two days and he was set to come the following day — it was right down to the wire. So I posed him the problem and he didn’t really say anything except, “OK, let me think about this.” And he just kind of of disappeared for two days. No one could get him on the phone. She gets on an airplane to come out. So, the drama was just fantastic! So he finally arrives and says, to the Spanish press, “I’m going to fight this bull, I’m not going to pick or bandeira him. it’s going to be the first time it’s ever done and I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it for my friend Michael.”
I don’t think [the bullfighting community] ever really wanted it to get out because he was able to fight that bull fine and it was beautiful and the bull never got hurt…at all. But you have to understand the reason that can’t happen is, unfortunately, [bullfighting is] about the celebration about killing of a bull. So it kind of took away the reason it why it exists for the Spanish. And also, when you’re looking at the footage, it’s pretty outstanding what he does. He’s not just fighting it — he’s fighting it beautifully. It’s gorgeous. It was all cloaked in secrecy. He wouldn’t do it unless no one saw. It was just too weird that a bullfighter’s fighting a bull that’s not picked or bandeira’d
For Michael Haussman’s Gravity installation at the Young Projects Gallery in Los Angeles last year, he revealed a beautiful video shot at 2,000 frames per second to show the powerful effects of gravity on the human body. The video was made by synching the camera to the movement, so it actually seems like the subjects are standing still as their body wobbles, and jiggles and does just what it’s meant to under the intense pressure of gravity.
As Haussman says: ‘Each of the five subjects is filmed in slow motion, defying gravity, floating upward, then descending downward, bottoming out in gravity’s clutch; yet each person is magically stationary’.
Majestic camerawork on global work for malware security giant Norton inspires us all to move boldly through life with our privacy intact …
Los Angeles, CA (June 4th 2014) – Person Films / HSI Productions have teamed up with Grey, San Francisco to release sweeping new work for malware protection giant Norton, breaking this week as part of the brand’s integrated global campaign.
Directed by Michael Haussman, “Boldly Go” features portraits of individuals moving through life with a sense of passion and adventure. Inspiring poetry plays alongside encouraging us all to move brazenly through life. It’s work that successfully personifies Norton in modern times – people busy living their technological lives in comfort, all along knowing that their security and self-assurance is intact.
“People’s intimate thoughts, cherished ideas and connections are shared in so many different ways – but all in ways that need to be shared safely,” explains Curt Detweiler, CCO at Grey, San Francisco on Norton’s modern demo. “It’s a different world than it was ten years ago.”
“Boldly Go” was shot in Rome through Person Films, Italy with an extensive list of characters, the city’s modern architecture and extensive locales imparting an attractive, international feel. “The agency approached me with an open script, the anchor being the poem,” explains Haussman on shaping the work. “The challenge became how to demonstrate the benefits of using the product’s intangible protection service. We recognized that Norton is selling a positive lifestyle and the action of people moving forward into the world would personify that.”
Haussman’s use of documentary-style filmmaking and hand-held camerawork also imparts an authentic feel to the work, while black and white photography adds a majestic feel – the only color used being Norton’s trademark yellow insignia in each spot.
“We all recognized Michael’s ability to stay focused and make decisions quickly without compromising on artistic vision,” notes Detweiler on the campaign, previously collaborating with Haussman while Regional Creative Director at TBWA\G1\Europe in Paris. “He knows what standard is needed creatively and gets to the story in a more emotional way, and creates work that is very honest and genuine.”
Digital spots from the campaign will be seen on YouTube plus sites including CNN, Inc., Forbes and CBS News. The work follows on from a slew of successful campaigns for Haussman this year including powerful spots for Budweiser and United Airlines.
Haussman is also in pre-production on “Good Guys,” the compelling tale of two Americans who meet in an Italian hotel. One dies, the other taking on his identity as a means to alter his bleak future – instead inheriting a life that changes him from a good guy to a bad guy. Stephen Dorff is set to star, while other casting is currently under way.
NORTON “BOLDLY GO” / CREDITS
Agency: Grey, SF
Production Company: Person Films / HSI Productions
Director Michael Haussman
HSI Executive Producer / Managing Director Rebecca Skinner
Person Films Executive Producer: Cecile Leroy
Producer: Linda Masse
Line Producer: Fabiomassimo Dell’Orco
Cinematographer: Paolo Caimi
Editing Company: Union
Editor: Marco Perez
email@example.com / t: 213.864.9439
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PERSON FILMS & ANOMALY “ALWAYS THERE” FOR BUDWEISER
New Budweiser work reveals how integral baseball has been to American society
Los Angeles, CA (April 4th 2014) – Person Films has teamed up with Anomaly New York to create “Always There” for Budweiser, an emotionally charged journey playing across multiple eras in baseball history.
Directed by Michael Haussman, “Always There” features pivotal events in the sport’s past with Bud close at hand. The spot continues the director’s relationship with Anomaly, previous Budweiser work including “Anticipation” and “Coming Home.”
“Always There” begins with a locomotive barreling toward us full of businessmen with newspaper headline: “Yankees Buy Ruth.” We then sweep seamlessly into a Brooklyn apartment as fans listen to Lou Gehrig’s famous speech. Sliding effortlessly into the next era we uncover an old timer seated at a bar, eyes welling with pride watching Satchel Paige on TV, the first African American pitcher to play in the majors.
Hank Aaron greets us next, on a color monitor at a swanky ‘70s house party rounding the bases to celebrate his 715th home run. Carl Ripken Jnr., follows, embodying pre-millennial baseball. The heartwarming spot ends with the Boston Red Sox celebrating victory at the 2013 World Series – their first since 1918 when Babe Ruth played for the team.
Academy Award winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (“Chicago,” “Memoirs of a Geisha” and “Alice in Wonderland”) was on hand to garner precise looks for each time period, while DP Paul Cameron (“Total Recall,” “Collateral,” “Man on Fire”) worked closely with Haussman to create overexposed flashes and pulsing movement to lavish scenes with an old-school camera feel.
The commercial reveals how integral baseball has been to American society and how Bud has also been there to celebrate the sport’s triumphs. “Anomaly came up with an amazing concept that was very distinctive and emotional – the history of Budweiser as told through the sport of baseball,” notes Haussman.
A global campaign for United Airlines rounds out recent work for Haussman, currently prepping on a Norton job through Grey, San Francisco. Anomaly, meanwhile, continue going from strength to strength, recently appeared in the highly touted 2014 “Agency A-List” report in Advertising Age.
Haussman’s emotional tour-de-force “The Audition” is also of note, work that competed at the Venice International Film Festival and currently in the Oscar- qualifying shorts competition at the Nashville Film Festival.
BUDWEISER “ALWAYS THERE” CREDITS
ECD: Eric Segal
Copywriter: Johnny Dantonio
Art Director: Mark Sarosi
Head of Production: Andrew Loevenguth
Senior Producer: Carrie Lewis
Production Company: Person Films
Director: Michael Haussman
Executive Producer: Rebecca Skinner
Producer: Ron Mohrhoff
Editor: Biff Butler (Rock Paper Scissors)
Post FX: The Mill
DP: Paul Cameron
Production Designer: Jason Hamilton
Costume Designer: Colleen Atwood
Makeup Artist: Brad Wilder
Hair Stylist: Martin Samuel
Live Action Shorts in Competition – Academy Award™ Qualifying Category
The Audition | Director: Michael Haussman. Italy. 11 minutes.
This scene begins as a playful challenge between two actors. What happens seems unplanned – as emotions become involved and they fall in love. The audience asks: Is this real? Or just really good acting?
When the act of passion becomes reality
A sizzling power play between two actors falling in love, The Audition, which appeared at Venice Film Festival 2013, is a film that explores what happens when business unexpectedly mixes with pleasure.
This scene begins as a playful challenge between two actors, at first trading just words. But it soon transforms into a war of emotion, as they try to conquer each other in proposition. The weakest will fall in love. What happens is unplanned – the consequences of their game – as their real emotions become involved and they both actually fall in love. Both are losers, or winners, but neither is giving up. It is as if they had gone through an entire relationship in the time it took to read the audition – and now they must separate, as scripted, and end it. Like a break up, it is hard. The audience continues to ask themselves: Is this real? Or just really good acting? At this moment, it seems possible that even the actors themselves do not know, because the emotion between them is that real.
The Audition is a cinematically captivating short film by award-winning director, writer and artist, Michael Haussman who has directed music videos for Justin Timberlake, Madonna, Chemical Brothers, Kanye West, Usher, Shakira, Chris Cornell, Eric Clapton, and won several MTV and VH1 awards. Haussman’s commercial campaigns include work for Levi’s, Diesel, Absolut, Bulgari, BMW, Yves Saint Laurent, Guinness, Ray-Ban, Coca-Cola, and more.