Michael Jackson’s filmmaker collaborations

Posted by · 11:40 am · June 29th, 2009

Michael Jackson in the music video for Billie JeanTomorrow’s installment of The Lists is going to be Michael Mann-centric, but I was all set to write up something brief in the way of qualifying Michael Jackson’s contributions to the movie world until I came across this Christopher Campbell posting at Spout Blog.  It’d be pretty difficult to go much deeper than he has.

Campbell ranks Jackson’s “filmmaker collaborations,” including music videos directed by the likes of John Singleton, David Fincher, Bob Giraldi and, of course, John Landis and Martin Scorsese.  As expected, the Francis Ford Coppola-directed, George Lucas-produced “Captain EO” is in the mix, as well as Sidney Lumet’s “The Wiz.”  I had totally forgotten about the Spike Lee production “They Don’t Really Care About Us” until I caught it on MTV or the like yesterday.  Campbell places that at #1.

It’s a shame room couldn’t be made for the “Billie Jean” production, from visionary music video (and eventual so-so film) director Steve Barron (A-Ha’s “Take On Me”).  Promo News recently caught up with Barron for a brief remembrance of the shoot.

“I’m on camera tracking back as he came forward… and it was astounding. At no time before did you have any idea… nobody did, until that moment. And then when he came forward through that chorus, literally my eyepiece steamed up, and I’m thinking: ‘fucking hell, this is amazing, he is incredible.’ Dancing on his toes, the whole thing.

“We shot that first take, got to the end, and everyone – up in the gantries, eating their sandwiches, reading the paper, painters working on another set – just burst into applause.

“We all just knew we’d seen another era of superstar that the world was about to see. It was a major moment.”

Another video that would make my personal list is the Herb Ritts-directed “In the Closet,” a sultry production for an amazing track off the “Dangerous” album that starred an unbelievably smokin’ Naomi Watts.  But lists are personal and I have to commend Campbell on his.

Also, someone needs to pitch a piece that would include comments from Scorsese, Coppola, Lucas, Mark Romanek, Singleton and Lee.  There’s a great story about Jackson’s innovative approach to the medium floating in the air, waiting to be snatched up.

What are your favorite Jackson filmmaker collaborations?  Have your say in the comments section below!

→ 4 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

4 responses so far

  • 1 6-29-2009 at 1:43 pm

    Davidraider88 said...

    Kris, you should make your own top 10 Michael Jackson video list. I bet that would be fun and would bring up a good debate and MJ made enough videos to come up with a good list.

  • 2 6-29-2009 at 4:28 pm

    Ligaya said...

    The only film collaboration I knew about until now was with Landis on Thriller. I’m looking for a piece exactly like the one you described in your last paragraph, Kris – why don’t you write it?

    Spike spoke on about MJ & film with NPR; Barron was quoted above; Spielberg & Scorcese, I think said a couple of sentences. But it would be great to have something from each of the fimmakers MJ worked with in the same piece to form a cohesive picture of his approach.

  • 3 6-30-2009 at 1:39 am

    Glenn said...

    His collab with Scorsese has always fascinated me. It also helps that, outside of “Thriller, it’s the best choreography from one of his videos.

  • 4 6-30-2009 at 9:25 am

    Ligaya said...

    Loved the choreography in Smooth Criminal with all its Fred Astaire references (I heard Astaire called MJ the morning after its premiere and congratulated him).

    Of note, the schizophrenic long version of Black or White includes a Gene Kelly Singing in the Rain moment with the lightpost.