We loved the madcap silliness of “I Wanna Go,” the Britney Spears video that premiered yesterday, so we jumped at the chance to talk to the clip’s director, Chris Marrs Piliero. The up-and-coming director is also responsible for Ke$ha‘s completely off-the-wall “Blow” video and a number of others, and we’re excited to see what he does next. This afternoon he spoke to us on the phone from Los Angeles about Half Baked, the Britney smirk, and the importance of fun.
VH1 Blog: How much of the video’s concept did you bring to the table when you first met with Britney?
Chris Marrs Piliero: Pretty much the whole thing. We made some changes to certain aspects, but as far as the concept as a whole, it was all laid out before we met up.
Where did the Half Baked reference, and the decision to cast Guillermo Díaz in general, stem from?
I’m a huge fan of the movie, and that scene resonates with everyone as the epitome of the greatest way to quit your job, and just blow people off. Going through the lyrics of the song, the line about being inappropriate really resonated in my head, and I felt like that would just be such a perfect way for her to tell the reporters to eff off. So I put it in, like, “This would be a rad moment.” Obviously I never know what’s going to be embraced and what’s not going to be, but I thought [Britney] seemed like a cool chick, and hopefully she’d be down with it. And she loved it. She was totally into it.
And when I initially wrote it out, it was one of those things, like, “We gotta try to get Guillermo.” That would be the icing on the cake. That would make it come full circle, to have him be a part of the video. And he loved the idea too, and it all just kinda fell into place.
You mentioned (to the New York Post blog Popwrap) that Britney “suggested alternatives and tweaked other things.” Was there anything that stands out in the video that was completely her idea, or a particularly good touch on her part?
Yeah. For the cop scene, she was the one who was like, “let’s have him frisk me.”
That moment when the cop is frisking her actually has the clearest example, in your video, of what I tend to think of as the Britney smirk—
Love it, right?
Yeah, and I wanted to ask about that, because you’ve also talked about her comic timing, and I think of Britney as having a particularly expressive face. You can find the smirk in all of her videos, but she really felt particularly expressive in this video.
I can say this: on day one, I walked into her trailer, and I just said, “You are a pro. You know what you’re doing. Here’s my only request: just have as much fun as possible over these next two days. I want to see you having a ton of fun. Get into it.”
I love her facial expressions. I’m a fan of hers, I watched all of her videos over and over again when I was coming up with a concept and prepping for this shoot, so I knew what I loved about her and knew what she was awesome at, so that was it, like, “You’ve got it. You know how to perform. This isn’t your first time at the rodeo. Just put the fun on overdrive.” And yeah, during that cop-frisk scene, there are such great moments: when she says, [sings "Taking out my freak tonight" to himself to jog his memory] “tonight,” there’s this way that she scrunches her face and moves her lips to it, and it looks awesome, and she has a little profile-ish smirk that she does when she’s singing. She’s really good at that. I just wanted her to channel that, and just put it on the screen.
Was there any desire, or pressure, or comparison to the Ke$ha video, as far as humor, or over-the-top-ness, or just in general?
I would say I put pressure on myself. I want to make as cool a video as possible. And I loved the Ke$ha one. I loved everything about it. That was such a fun one to do. Definitely I wanted to make the next one just as rad. Britney never said, “You’d better make this better than Ke$ha’s,” or anything like that.
The Ke$ha video—James Van Der Beek is just so f–king rad in that, and the chemistry that Ke$ha and James had, especially during their dialogue scene in the middle, was really solid, so for me, I definitely want to have as many of those moments [as possible] throughout all my videos. So I was definitely stoked at the great chemistry Guillermo and Britney had as well. Their lines together were great, and in the car, when she’s reacting to him being ridiculous, I love her reactions to it. They definitely flowed well together. I’m stoked that we were able to deliver more cool moments like that.
Is there anyone—and this seems like the sort of question that, before this video, you would’ve just answered “Britney Spears,” but—in particular you’d be excited to work with, or would hope to work with, in the future?
You know, that’s funny, because honestly, after I made the Ke$ha video, some people asked me that, and I said, “I want to do a Britney video.” And I never said that in an interview or anything; I just said it to my friends, so it was pretty f–king cool to get that call.
There’s definitely a handful of artists I’d love to work with. On the rock side of things, Green Day, Blink , No Doubt, Foo Fighters, [Red Hot] Chili Peppers: those are the artists that I’ve grown up listening to, and loving, and watching all their videos, and just being big fans of. In the hip-hop world, I’d say Jay-Z, Kanye, [Dr.] Dre, Eminem—those guys are living legends right now. In the pop world, I definitely want to work with Britney and Ke$ha again, for sure. Katy [Perry], Rihanna, and [Lady] Gaga are all great artists. I honestly have all of their albums and would love to work with them.
All of that being said, if I never made another music video, I would be so f–king stoked on what I’ve done, and this Britney video is awesome. I’m so stoked at what I’ve been able to do. It’s rad that I have this to always have—this moment.