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Closeup: Lights, Camera, Smile and Then Action!

Lights-Camera-SMile-Then-Action
Joseph Khan on set

Joseph Khan on set

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You might think shooting a music video is simply a case of hiring beautiful people who can dance in time to the track on playback. Oh, and a cameraman who can point the lens at said beautiful people dancing in time to the track on playback. You’d be wrong.

The Bank gets a makeover

The Bank gets a makeover

As legendary music video director Joseph Kahn (he’s worked with Britney and Rihanna, people!)  Tells us on the set of his Closeup Diamond Attraction ad, a great video – like relationships, like life – relies on chemistry, connecting, and something as powerfully  simple as The Smile. (And good lighting helps too!)

It’s a rap

It’s a rap

‘For me,’ Kahn explains, ‘the most exciting thing about this commercial is seeing two dancers emote and connect. It is always about the people – and they cast two re spectacular people on this – and this ad is a real ‘connector’ piece — with two people looking at each other and us, the viewer, connecting and understanding.’

Melissa’s close

Melissa’s close

The two ‘spectacular’ people Kahn is talking about are America’s So You Think You Can Dance champion Chehon Wespi-Tschopp and Honey 2 dancing and singing star Melissa Molinaro. To showcase this talent, Kahn went back to the future. Kahn: ‘I wanted to have a sultry dark club but at the same time I wanted to see the light on their faces. So I’m kind of using a technique you saw a lot in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s — but people haven’t really used this sort of slash lighting in a while. I’m playing around with this technique — it’s retro and I’m refreshing it to make it look new.’

Chehon takes up position on the dance floor

Chehon takes up position on the dance floor

It’s not just lighting techniques Kahn is reinventing — it’s the styling, the clothing (‘All these effects I love playing with’) and even the LA club scene! Kahn laughs: ‘I wanted to look for a club that had a very modern design to it — but they don’t have clubs like that in LA. A lot of the LA stuff is based on Old Hollywood: old glamour; 1920s; California sun-drenched… The sort of colder, eastern city type thing doesn’t really exist here. So I told my location scout to find anything – a museum, whatever – and he found a bank vault! So that’s what we did — we turned this bank vault into a club!’

Lighting checked and prepped

Lighting checked and prepped

As exciting as that is, that’s not what inspires Kahn. ‘At the end of the day,’ he says, ‘there’s technology, technique, lighting and all the other stuff. But the thing that excites is the people. If I’m watching two people and I really like them, then I’m fascinated in seeing how they look, how they walk towards each other… And how they smile. That’s what it’s all about. It’s very sensual – the dancing is very sensual – and we end on a kiss.’

Light-Camera-Smile-Action (4)

Kahn knows the power of the smile. And Closeup does too.

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