As 2011 comes to a close, EW.com wanted to honor some of the hardworking names and faces from behind the scenes for their outstanding achievements. Chris Marrs Piliero has directed music videos for the Black Keys, the Ready Set, and Yellow Card, in tones that vary wildly from romantic to satiric to eye-poppingly insane. Then he kicked off the 2011 music-video year by sending pop startlet Ke$ha into a cocktail party full of unicorns… and a surprise guest. Read on to find out how “Blow” came together. For more behind the scenes access to the year’s best TV and movie scenes, click here for EW.com‘s Best of 2011: Behind the Scenes coverage.
By: Chris Marrs Piliero
I’ve been told that I tend to incorporate violence in some form or fashion into my music videos. I didn’t realize this at first. Turns out, yup, I sure do. When dealing with violence in music videos it can be tricky… especially for a pop star.
There’s actually some strategic method to my madness when it came to Ke$ha’s “Blow” music video. Most people wouldn’t be keen on the idea of watching the genocide of a group of innocent party guests. But I knew if I made those guests a bunch of mythological unicorn people rather than humans, then that would ease the impact of the carnage. Especially if during the brutal chaos they were distracted by — oooh, Rainbows! What a happy joyful mass murder!
If there’s one thing I loathe in any action scene, it’s when someone gets shot but there’s no blood from the impact. Naturally in the music video I couldn’t expect to have blood spewing all over the place and expect this sucker to get on television. (Yes, videos are still played on television, so shut it with the asinine remark before you get a karate chop to the throat). Easy solution: Unicorns don’t need to bleed blood. That’s the benefit of incorporating mythological creatures. They’re not real and you can do whatever you want with them. So I decided to have beams of smile-inducing rainbows bursting out of wounds instead of blood to help transform a brutal massacre into a fun-filled laser show.
And yup, lasers… they’re good stuff. You can kill way more things with lasers over bullets, without making viewers think twice. I learned that from growing up watching G.I. Joe cartoons. They shot at each other all the time in that cartoon, but with lasers instead of bullets for some strange reason, and parents across the world thought it was just dandy.
From the initial draft of the concept, I always intended for Ke$ha’s nemesis to be James Van Der Beek. I’d never met the dude before or had any connection whatsoever, but my brain was nice enough to assure me that he would be into it. Once I wrote the lines “Van Der Douche” and “I don’t appreciate you Slan Der Beeking my name, K-Dollar Sign-Ha… ,” there was no way I was gonna let him say no to the role. It just had to be him. Fortunately, he agreed with me and I didn’t have to throw away my Dawson’s Creek VHS collection in anger or betrayal.
I wanted The Beek to have the swagger of Daniel Craig’s James Bond and the soiree to feel like a fancy schmancy party that Bond would attend if he were so inclined to canoodle with unicorn people. I remember Ke$ha calling me up and saying she loved the idea for the video and wanted to make sure we didn’t back away from the absurdity of the whole concept. Obviously I was on board, and with the label and the Beek on the same page we ended up making the video we sought out to make… in all its ridiculous glory.
For more on the Best and Worst of 2011, pick up Entertainment Weekly’s new issue, on stands now.