Before he was the acclaimed director of the mind-bending comedies Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, Spike Jonze was the acclaimed director of mind-blowing videos for such artists as Weezer, Bjork, and Fatboy Slim. A new DVD, The Work of Director Spike Jonze, due out this month, crams 16 of his videos into a single disc but offers no commentary from the 34-year-old boy genius himself. To make up for this omission, Jonze provided us with his thoughts and reflections on some of his early efforts--and then commented on his own commentary.
By: Spike JonzeBefore he was the acclaimed director of the mind-bending comediesBeing John Malkovich and Adaptation, Spike Jonze wasthe acclaimed director of mind-blowing videos for such artists asWeezer, Bjork, and Fatboy Slim. A new DVD, The Work of DirectorSpike Jonze, due out this month, crams 16 of his videos into asingle disc but offers no commentary from the 34-year-old boygenius himself. To make up for this omission, Jonze provided uswith his thoughts and reflections on some of his early efforts–andthen commented on his own commentary.
BJORK – “IT’S OH SO QUIET” (The tiny songstress pirouettes her way through a city street.)
“That was definitely the most complicated shoot I’d done to that point. We scheduled it for three days, but then we couldn’t afford to shoot for three days, so we were like,’Well,we can’t do the video.’ And then we said, ‘Shit,we gottado the video.’ So we had to do it in two days. That part where Bjork does a back flip off the wall, I don’t want to say too much about how we made it, because these are the tricks of the trade, but I’m sure if you watch it again, you’ll see it’s not really that slick. Bjork and I talked about doing another video that she would dance in, and then she ended up doing Dancer in the Dark instead.”
BEASTIE BOYS – SABOTAGE (A compendium of just about every TV cop-drama cliche, as reenacted by the Beasties.)
“I think we ended up with six hours of footage, which is a lot for a three-minute video, but it was just so fun to shoot. Those guys are three of the funniest guys I know. Whatever scenario you’d make up–they’re driving down the street, they’re yelling at the rookie about something–they would ad-lib lines for it, and it wasso funny. I started realizing that we should have been recording the dialogue. There weren’t that many people on the crew, and I was making decisions that I probably shouldn’t have been making: ‘Yeah, that $100,000 camera is safe on the hood of that car.'”
FATLIP – “WHAT’S UP, FATLIP?” (The former Pharcyde MC wanders through his life, occasionally dressed as a clown.)
“Fatlip had just been kicked out of the Pharcyde, and I think the song was his way of trying to figure out who he was again. You know the lyrics: ‘Young, downtrodden / Fresh kid turned rotten / Can’t see how naive that I’ve gotten.’ I’dgo to his house every morning, and we’d come up with ideas and film them. If we needed a clown suit, we’d go to he toy store and buy the clown suit, and I’d try to put clown makeup on him as best I could. We’d get hungry and eat pizza with his family, and after we finished eating, we’d be like,’Yeah,we should just shoot something here.”
WEEZER – “BUDDY HOLLY” (The band rock out with the cast members of Happy Days at Arnold’s Drive-In. Aaaaaay!)
“The idea of it being on the set of Happy Days came pretty early. My editor, Eric Zumbrunnen, and I went through hundreds of episodes, pretty much every one that had anything in Arnold’s, and when we found the footage of Fonzie dancing, it was like a gold mine. He danced really well. He was really athletic. Some of the actors, like Ron Howard and Henry Winkler, were really easy to get approval from, but some we could never find. But I don’t want to talk shit about Ralph Malph and get it wrong.”
FATBOY SLIM – “PRAISE YOU” (A recital by a clumsy dance troupe whose leader may or may not be Jonze himself.)
“Um, um. God. I don’t know. That one I’m gonna have to get back to you on. Look up my notes. I just don’t have my notes in front of me. I have my 40-page, sort of, uh, note guide.”
FATBOY SLIM – “WEAPON OF CHOICE” (Christopher Walken gets down in zero gravity. And then things start to get weird.)
“It wasn’t that Christopher Walken was the first choice–if he didn’t want to do it, it wasn’t really an idea. I’d seen him tap dancing on Saturday Night Live, so I sent him the treatment I’d written. And then he called me and asked abouteverything–about the song, who Fatboy Slim is, what I was trying to do–and then at the end of the phone call, he said,’Oh, let’s do it.’ We shot the whole thing in two days–the dancing on the first night and the flying on the second. The flying involved big rigs and cable harnesses and all this stuff that had to be painted out later, which was a nightmare, but somehow his hair stayed in perfect place throughout the video. There were no special effects involved in that. It was pure hair skills.”