Saturday, 16 October 2010

An Interview with Mark Romanek

Image: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Acclaimed director Mark Romanek was in town this week for the premiere of his new movie, the quintessentially British Never Let Me Go, and Fohnhouse was fortunate enough to ask the man himself one or two questions.

A few of you at this point may be wondering who Mark Romanek is, as his feature filmography is limited, having only made three films over the course of his 25-year career. But what may be lacking in the movie-making department is fiercely made up for in the music video sphere – although the lack of recognition is actually a reason why the director turned to feature filmmaking. Music videos are essentially produced to bolster the career of an artist, and rarely highlight the aptitude of their makers. And so, having been seduced for years by the lifestyle that accompanies this career choice, and having sprayed his scent all over the field, with “little poems” like “Closer” (Nine Inch Nails), “Free Your Mind” (En Vogue) and “Are You Gonna Go My Way” (Lenny Kravitz), he left the game. But speaking at the festival, he is still happy to recount his days working in the medium, as he was, ultimately, able to learn his craft and prepare for life in the feature lane.

While it’s understandably difficult to select an all-time favourite, the director did like the result of the “Got ‘Til It’s Gone” video, and almost enjoys the fact that it wasn’t Janet Jackson’s most successful song. “It wasn’t widely seen as it didn’t become a huge hit … but I like how it came out.” Well, so did The Recording Academy, and so do we, even more so now we’ve learnt that the sentiments evoked within the video were achieved artificially, courtesy of a set built on a sound stage in Los Angeles.

He then went on to talk about his inspiration for the concept of the video, stating, “I had a certain amount of disgust about the way black culture was being depicted … yachts, Cristal champagne, hoes and crap.” “I guess i’m just a white boy with a love of black culture.

Speaking of things black, or white, we had to ask him about his experience directing another Janet video, in which she was in the company of her notorious, now deceased brother, in one of the most expensive videos ever made. “Fascinating and crazy” Romanek called the experience. And the dancing? “like seeing the greatest magic trick you’ve ever seen, and you know it’s not a trick.”


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