Director Talks Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake it Off’ Music Video
Taylor Swift fans this week were treated with the surprise debut of her newest single ‘Shake it Off,’ but even more unexpected was the simultaneous release of the song’s music video. In an interview with Vulture, director Mark Romanek talks about keeping the video a secret, collaborating with Swift and what he thinks about the controversy that was brought up by rapper Earl Sweetshirt.
Romanek admitted that filming of ‘Shake it Off,’ which was done in June, was done under heavy security and precautions. “I’ve made over two dozen spots for Apple,” he said. “They take their secrecy very, very seriously, too, so my producer and I have become pretty practiced at keeping things secure. A series of measures are put into place. Badges and wristbands. Aggressive nondisclosure agreements must be signed. Scary legal announcements regularly made to cast and crew. Cell phones confiscated at the door. We selected a pretty remote sound stage and even placed boom boxes all around the perimeter blasting heavy-metal music, in case you could faintly hear the song during shooting. And then, after all those measures are taken, you kneel and pray.”
Romanek credits Swift with the playful nature of the video. “We met and she told me that she wanted to make a sort of paean to the awkward ones, the ‘uncool’ kids that are actually cooler than the ‘cool’ kids. She said she wanted to shoot all these styles of dance and then be the individualist dork in the midst of these established genres.”
“It was a fun and easy collaboration,” he continued. “She’s very clear about what she likes and doesn’t like, and isn’t afraid to communicate it. She wanted to make sure that the message of the video came through clearly.”
In regards to rapper Earl Sweatshirt criticizing the video for perpetuating black stereotypes, Romanek doesn’t believe that there is anything offensive about the video. “I’m a fan of his and I think he’s a really interesting artist,” he said. “But he stated clearly that he hadn’t seen the video and didn’t even intend to watch it. So, respectfully, that sort of invalidates his observations from the get-go. And it’s this one uninformed tweet that got reported on and rehashed, which started this whole ‘controversy.'”
He also added that the video is more than just certain dances and stereotypes. “We simply choose styles of dance that we thought would be popular and amusing and cast the best dancers that were presented to us without much regard to race or ethnicity. If you look at it carefully, it’s a massively inclusive piece. It’s very, very innocently and positively intentioned. And — let’s remember — it’s a satirical piece. It’s playing with a whole range of music-video tropes and clichés and stereotypes.”
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