Edgar Wright made his most colorful piece of spectacle yet with the music video for Beck’s “Colors.” The Baby Driver and Hot Fuzz director crafted a music video jammed full of joy and it has been steadily making people happy (and dazzling their senses) since it debuted last year. The director’s propulsive style goes perfectly hand-in-hand with the total blast of a pop song.
The filmmaker previously directed music videos for Pharrell Williams, Mint Royale, and around a dozen other bands. With his music video for Beck, Wright told us, “Most of the other videos that I’ve done have some plot or premise or sort of sensual concept, but this one was more like, how can I just express how I feel about this song in visuals?”
And he sat down with us to tell us how it call came together.
Origins of a Colorful Collaboration
Beck and Wright worked together on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, with Beck writing songs for Sex Bob-omb and other characters, including “Ramona.” Once the duo started collaborating on a music video for the ultra-joyful title track from Beck’s lively album, Wright’s vision for the video began with the pleasing album cover:
I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. We’ve known each other for probably about 15 years. I’ve obviously worked with him on Scott Pilgrim and used him in Baby Driver, but because I’m such a big fan, when it came up there was pressure because you think, “Oh my God, I can’t make a video for one of my favorite artists and have it suck [Laughs].” I really tried to, (a) do the best job I could, and (b) also conjure up exactly what I imagine when I listen to that song. Funnily enough, the color scheme of the video was just based on the sleeve of the album, which is like a black and white portrait of Beck with like a blue splodge and a yellow splodge, and so that’s when I wrote the script. I thought why don’t I do an entire video like using this as a jumping off point?
Going From Nike to Beck
Wright went straight from working with Kobe Bryant and Billy Nye the Science Guy to shooting the “Colors” video. The Spaced co-creator, who often tries out new ideas with commercials and videos, had little time between both projects, which initially made him uncertain. Ultimately, he completed the video in a marathon with some of his longtime collaborators:
The crazy thing with it is that last October, when Colors came out, they had already done videos for “Up All Night” and “Wow” and “Dear Life,” and they came to me and said, “Would you like to do a video for Colors?” I knew Beck and I said, “I’d love to.” The initial budget they had was pretty low as it was like their fourth video from that album. So I wrote something that I thought was quite cheap too [Laughs], and then when actually the production company budgeted it, they said, “Uh, what you’ve written is like five times what they have. Do you want to do something cheaper?” And I was like, “Not really.”
So what happened then, and with all credit to the label, the label and Beck’s management went around to find somebody to sort of sponsor it. So, that’s why Apple Music had it for six months exclusively to, because they basically paid for most of the video. I was like, if I get to make this with the right resources and we can have the numbers of dancers we want, then great. So, in October like I was first offered and wrote the script. You know, we even had meetings around Christmas with choreographer Ryan Heffington, who also did Baby Driver with me and Ethan Tubman, Production Designer. But, it all went quiet because they were basically trying to figure out how they could pay for it.
It wasn’t until February when I was actually in the middle of directing a huge Nike commercial, and I was about to go back to London, I suddenly go the call saying, “Hey, we have the money finally. Can you do February 12th and 13th? These are the only dates Beck can do.” It was literally like the day before I was about to leave to London, and only three days after finishing this Nike job, which I was already doing. But luckily I had sort of storyboarded most of it at that point.
I was about to say that I couldn’t do it because I was thinking, there is no way. This Nike job was a 10-day shoot, or eight days shoot or something, including night shoots. Then it would have meant I only had three days between finishing the commercial and actually shooting the video. So my initial response was to say, “No way I can actually pull this off.” And it actually was one of my producers, Leo Thompson, and the production designer Ethan Tubman and Bill Pope who said, “Yeah, I think you can pull this off.” Ethan and Bill have done like a million music videos, they were sort of like “Ah, you know..” a bit like wag the dog type of thing saying, “Ah, this is nothing, this is easy.” We could really choreograph all of this with the dancers and build the set and paint the psyche and everything with the three days we have.
A Bit of Busby Berkeley with Beck
Beck is well known for his dance moves. Whether in one of his classic music videos or a live performance, the artist brings an infectious joy to his dancing, which has been especially exciting to watch during his recent worldwide tour. While Wright got to let his imagination run wild with the music video, the only suggestions Beck had involved dancing, specifically making a nod or two to Busby Berkeley’s iconic musicals:
I think he was pretty open to what I’d done. I mean, I think for his other videos he does have a lot more input. I’d say very nicely he really liked what I had already come up with and was game. He suggested…He likes Busby Berkeley things as well, we had been chatting about that. We both love all Busby Berkeley’s films. And he said – he saw the storyboard that was up – “oh, it would be great if we could do those overhead shots,” which we then did. And then also he said about this Busby Berkeley bit again, “it would be great if we could do one of those shots where the dancers would fan out from behind the main person,” and we did one of those. So I was more than happy to include those but, pretty much that was it, really. He loved the idea, and loved the idea of casting Allison, and it was a very harmonious experience.
Wright once praised Berkeley’s choreography as a “mathematical art with the human form,” and the same could be said of Ryan Heffington’s precise and animated choreography in the “Colors” video.
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