To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Michael Haussman’s award winning music video for “SexyBack”, Entertainment Weekly interviewed the minds behind the classic chart-topping hit.
To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Michael Haussman’s award winning music video for “SexyBack”, Entertainment Weekly interviewed the minds behind the classic chart-topping hit.
Interview with Michael Haussman on 26th January 2016
What’s the best ad campaign you’ve seen recently?
I honestly can’t remember seeing anything on the air that blew me away recently in the US or Europe. Most of the good work I see is on people’s reels… and there is some great, inspiring and refreshing stuff out there… I just have no idea where any of it ever plays.
What website(s) do you use most regularly and why?
I don’t spend a lot of time navigating websites. I do visit a lot because I work in many different mediums – art, film, commercials, music videos – but surfing for work normally has a purpose, like looking up a specific artist, musician, film clip, location, etc. But I don’t look at any sites as a matter of routine.
What’s the most recent piece of tech that you’ve bought and why?
I’m in the process of buying the new Sony Alpha 7 camera because it can shoot in amazingly low light and also has 4k capability. It’s also very compact and is the perfect travel camera.
Facebook, Instagram or Twitter?
Always Instagram: Michael_Haussman.
What’s your favourite app on your phone and why?
SkyView app. So I can finally learn the constellations.
What’s your favourite TV show and why?
At the moment Ray Donovan, but that can change depending on what my wife pulls up. She keeps me in tune with what is out there and there’s a lot of great stuff. I normally watch the first four episodes of anything and then, out of simple neglect, and interest in something else, I shift to the next. It would be nice one day to follow a series through to the end.
What film do you think everyone should have seen?
I don’t for a moment think my tastes should be everyone else’s taste. But… I thought one of the most complete movies in the last couple years was MOMMY. A French Canadian character-driven film that was exciting, emotional, funny, heart wrenching, and superbly-acted and shot. Basically, all the reasons I go to the cinema.
Where were you when inspiration last struck?
Lying in bed at 4:00 am this morning.
What’s the most significant change you’ve witnessed in the industry since you started working in it?
Since I started, directing and film editing was just being phased out of commercials for 3/4 U-matic machines, which we used for music videos. A lot has happened in technology, so it’s hard to label the most significant change.
Recently, the emphasis has been on digital technology, so the end result is most felt in post production, where so much is being created. There’s no limit to realising any ideas and dreams. But I’m not sure if this has had an inverse effect on storytelling, as ideas now tend to focus on the latest effects instead. In a very short time, the new digital world has taken us from a one-dimensional, projected film experience to multi-dimensional, interactive spaces.
But I think the most significant advance in actual filmmaking has been the use of drones. In two years, they have gone from risky experiments, that may or may not get off the ground, to becoming a safe, accurate, and completely steady means of getting the camera into impossible places and moving it in ways we have not seen.
If there was one thing you could change about the advertising industry, what would it be?
Lead the visual trend again, not follow the trend. There have been certain glory moments in advertising when films, music videos and artists were using ads for inspiration. Advertising can be a powerful pop art source. Clients know this, but don’t utilize the potential. Safe is the norm today – to the point that repetition and copying operates on a grand scale.
Example: Low-fi visuals which were once street five years ago, now form part of the status quo and have evolved to become the corporate visual style for everyone, whether they’re selling hamburgers or insurance. Or take the trend of copying a special effect just because it worked for someone else. This has only made a lot of recent work more repetitive.
It is rare to hear a creative pitch today that says, “We want to do something that has not been done.” That used to be said. Now if someone can’t see a previous example of the idea, it can’t be done or it musn’t be that good because it wasn’t done previously.
What or who has most influenced your career and why?
Probably when I worked at Replay, in my early twenties. Then, Replay was a progressive, but small, fashion house out of Milan. The owner and I became friends after he saw one of my Levi’s ads. For six years. he trusted me to write all the spots, shoot them, shoot the stills and even buy the airtime. Everything. I had complete creative control, but I also had a tremendous amount of fiscal responsibility. I learned all the parts that go into advertising – from conception to airtime – and the expense of running a 90-sec spot. When you are given X amount to spend on airtime, you make bolder decisions on the campaign you write.
One of the first ads I did with Replay (below) was about 90-seconds long, so I knew it had to be a 90-second idea. I created an attention-grabbing short film, which was due to air on a channel like MTV at a time when no one was doing this. The ad won many awards and helped to elevate Replay but I learned that an ad idea has to fit the length of the airtime slot. The audience will watch a 60 if the story is a 60. Equally, they will know if it’s not a true 30. Rarely has a 60 and 30 combination made sense. If the story is a true 60 then the 30 will be a horrible sacrifice. If it is not a true 60, it should just be a 30. A great combo is 60 and 15, because the 15 can be a very powerful ad for the 60.
Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know…
I live in Rome.
By Emilee Lindner
Selena Gomez’s “Same Old Love” video follows the singer rolling through the city in a raindrop-speckled car, observing life from safely inside.
But after watching life go on around her, she’s ready to immerse herself in the human experience, so she ditches the car, which continues on to her concert empty. Don’t worry though, after drifting around city streets and a nightclub — something that she wouldn’t get to do in real life without fans and paparazzi smothering her — she runs back to the venue on foot to make it to her concert on time.
For the fans who got the first look of the video at Gomez’s Revival album event in L.A. last week, that’s where they thought it ended. But little did they know that Selena would come out for a surprise performance, and their reactions would be filmed for the end of the video, released on Tuesday.
We got on the phone with Michael Haussman, who directed “Same Old Love” — along with Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack,” Madonna’s “Take A Bow,” Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” and more — to get the behind-the-scenes stories that went into the carefully crafted visual.
By Meredith B. Kile
Selena Gomez debuted her music video for “Same Old Love” on Tuesday, and it’s a sophisticated and sultry look at the singer’s new musical direction.
Directed by Michael Haussman, who’s behind behind such music videos as Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack,” Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” and Madonna’s “Take a Bow,” the video shows a more serious side to Selena, as she travels to her concert on a rainy night, sneaking through a busy club to avoid the paparazzi, and observing the city scape and passersby as she travels.
The final on-stage number was actually filmed last week at a top-secret fan event in Los Angeles, where the 23-year-old singer surprised her fans with a preview of her new album — and the chance to appear in her video.
“The screen will rise towards the end and I’ll surprise them and finish the song,” Gomez explained in a video about the event. “That will be inserted into the actual video.”
The catchy song is Selena’s second single off her upcoming album Revival. The former Disney star opened up about naming the album — her sophomore follow-up album to 2013’s Stars Dance — on BBC Radio 1 back in August.
“I was in Mexico and I came up with the title of the album because all of these things, all of the songs that have come into my life are so fresh and so different and funky and cool and sensual,” she told host Scott Mills. “It just kind of happened that way and I can’t wait for people to hear that.”
By Zorianna Kit
Wednesday night, Selena Gomez invited fans to sit in the audience of the Palace Theater in Downtown Los Angeles with the promise of having them be part of the video shoot for her latest single, “Same Old Love”. The song would be the second song of her upcoming album, Revival.
Once the house lights went out, a giant screen descended on stage and began showing the “Same Old Song” video, directed by Michael Haussman. We were all curious – if we were there to be part of the shoot, why were we watching the finished product?
But the surprise was still to come.
In the video, Selena is being driven in a town car, where she sits in the back seat, singing the song as rain pours down the nighttime city. Her ultimate destination is still unknown at this point.
After observing enough brokenhearted people during her ride, which she subsequently abandons, it becomes clear that in the video Selena is expected to be at a concert venue for her own performance. There is panic by her handlers when the town car arrives with no Selena in sight.
Never fear, all is not lost. Though we’re not sure why she decided to take a pedestrian detour, Selena arrives at the back door of the venue just in the nick of time. We see her glam squad put the finishing touches on her already flawless face as her stressed out handlers guide Selena through the dark and narrow path of the theater halls and on to the curtained stage.
Then, in a seamless transition, as the curtain in the video begins to lifts and expose the audience, the actual video screen on the Palace Theater stage rises and there in front of us — as if she popped out of her own video — is Miss Gomez herself, singing the chorus of the song right on cue. It’s like she was there all along — same dress, same hairdo, same everything. The crowd went wild, and the camera crew was there to capture the genuinely excited and surprised fans sitting — actually now standing at their feet — in the theater, going nuts. (And yes, it was done in one take. No stops and starts or repeats.)
Afterward, a chair was brought to the stage and Selena sat down and began a heartfelt speech. She thanked her fans for always being there for her, told them how much she adores them, and how this is a new stage in her life which includes a switch to new record label with Revival.
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.
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.
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