Music Videos often have multiple variables. There's the music artist or band that is being portrayed, the concept behind the video, the meaning, the locations and the song itself. Trying to navigate all of those things successfully can sometimes be a challenge. Not only did the Director, Arturo Perez Jr., along with the publication La Blogothèque, create an incredible video for Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton's song "Say Something", but they set out to do a One-Take Music Video featuring a Live Performance in the Historical Bradbury Building in Los Angeles, California.
Justin Timberlake's Music Videos have often looked at space. Whether it was navigating a home in "Cry Me A River" or dancing inside a mirrored fun house in "Mirrors", Timberlake has used space to accentuate the visual representation of his music and "Say Something" masterfully combines Live Music, Film and Movement.
In an exclusive interview with Interiors, we spoke with Margaux Rust, who is the Production Designer for "Say Something" by Justin Timberlake. The images are property of Margaux Rust.
INT: First off, we were curious how the opportunity to do the Music Video, “Say Something” by Justin Timberlake, came about? What was it about it that made you want to work on it?
MR: The director, Arturo Perez Jr. and I have been working together for a few years. I designed his first short film in 2013, and since then we’ve done many other projects together that I’m really proud of. He called me up while I was visiting my husband on location in NYC late November of last year, and honestly, I was in a small state of shock when he asked me if I wanted to make a live music video with Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton. It was a really exciting project to come home to.
INT: What was the overall inspiration behind the Music Video, “Say Something”? It seems as though many Architectural aspects were highlighted throughout the video (Elevators, Staircases, Lobby Area, Etc.) Was this the intention?
MR: There’s a lot of metaphor built into the visual concept, and The Bradbury Building gave us the perfect environment to bring those ideas out in a subtle but still powerful way. The beginning is very isolated and abstracted, all those textures and shapes of works in progress; it’s really a translation of what it is to be in your own head, working something out. Then, the world begins to broaden as we follow Justin through the corridors and up the elevator where he encounters the other musicians bit by bit, all these other people in the process who are part of a growing and stronger voice. When we meet Chris across the atrium’s expanse, it’s akin to that moment when the little lightbulb goes off in some exchange of ideas, when you realize you and someone else are speaking the same language, making something bigger together. Finally, that reveal of the choir along all the cloisters above is just such poetic justice, like the critical mass moment when you realize the power in a collective consciousness. The Bradbury really beautifully brought us to that final feeling of unity at the end, the building itself almost has a pulse at it’s center. It was a wonderful location to get to spend a few days at.
INT: What were some of your visual reference points for designing the space?
MR: The building itself was my cornerstone in the decision making. It felt right to stay true to the heart of the concept Arturo was after, using the metaphor of the building to it’s fullest potential, in all of it’s parts and pieces. Using the fragments of the building to introduce the space and to create a sense of mystery had a bit of poetry to it. All those partial architectural elements and fragments felt like puzzle pieces waiting to be set, ideas waiting to be formed. They’re the parts of the whole, just as Justin is the single voice before the many. The building was undergoing some renovations, so we hunted around for the best pieces to bring into that initial space, which was a great (if not heavy) scavenger hunt to go on.
As we opened up into the atrium the approach shifted and it became about editing. We took all the modernity of the building away to keep it more graphic, and to let the cast iron and masonry live uninterrupted. I wanted the stage we were setting for all of our musicians to feel more poetic than practical.
INT: How does the one-take approach to the Music Video affect your work? What are some of the challenges that come with it, for your work as a Production Designer specifically?
MR: I enjoy working in long or single takes. It’s a style of shooting that let’s the audience take in their surroundings, and can present a lot of opportunity to shape the perception of the viewer through the design. It always feels good to get to consider a space holistically, it’s more rewarding for everyone involved when you don’t have to be distracted by the incongruities or complications of a partial set. The only challenge to working in single takes on this was keeping the haze consistent throughout a 5 story open air building over a six minute take!
INT: The Bradbury Building is such an incredibly iconic landmark in Los Angeles, used most notably in Blade Runner. How did you approach the work for such a well-known space?
MR: Sometimes I get to be part caretaker, and part curator. I really just wanted to celebrate The Bradbury for it’s innate beauty and presence. It’s maybe my imagination, but it seemed like the lovely brick walls appreciated not having to wear their LED exit signs for a couple of days.
Margaux Rust is a Production Designer and has worked on various Commercials, Films and Music Videos. You can visit her Website to see more of her work.