Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Katy Perry, James Franco. Everyone -- even the President of the United States -- has starred in a video for âCall Me Maybe.â But thereâs only one official clip for Carly Rae Jepsenâs song of the summer -- and itâs up for a Video of the Year MMVA. Ben Knechtel directed it. (The Vancouver-based filmmakerâs been behind all of Jepsenâs videos -- all the way back to her 2008 clip, âTug of War.â) Here, Knechtel tells Dose.ca about how he made the video that inspired a gajillion lip-dubs.
Watch âCall Me Maybeâ by Carly Rae Jepsen:
Dose.ca: Everybody knows how âCall Me Maybeâ has exploded in the last few months. (Itâs currently No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, some weeks after topping the chart here in Canada.) Has this led to anything new for you, because so many people have seen the video?
Ben Knechtel: Itâs just cool! I remember calling my mom when it hit a million views on YouTube. I was like, 'Mom! I created something that has a million views!' and now it's nearing a hundred million. Itâs just really cool to be a part of something that's a pop culture phenomenon, you know?
Dose.ca: I was hoping you could tell me a bit about the idea behind this video. When you started, what kind of concept did you go in with?
BK: When I first heard the song it was last summer, last August, and I knew it was going to be a big song, but obviously, you can't anticipate it blowing up worldwide like it has. But the initial idea was her washing her car, but instead of the usual sexy take on it -- that, you know, pop culture always does -- I wanted to have Carly look and feel more cute and awkward than sexy and edgy -- even though, I mean, Carly's definitely a beautiful, sexy woman. That's just kind of the vibe I wanted for the video.
Dose.ca: The video all comes down to a twist ending.
Dose.ca: Was that something you always wanted to do, right off the bat?
BK: Absolutely. I wanted the ending to be a twist because, I mean, I didn't want to do a cookie-cutter pop video for Carly, I wanted this one to have some sort of creative merit, and for me, that came with the twist ending.
Dose.ca: Did you play with any other twists before coming up with the one in the video?
BK: Ha! Not really. I mean, originally -- and I don't know if I should even be saying this -- but originally, we wanted to have two guys kiss at the end and that was the big reveal. But we wanted to keep it a bit more safe, and I think it works better with the hot dude giving Tavish [Crowe], who is Carly's guitar player, the number. I just think it's funnier that way.
Dose.ca: How did you decide who was going to get the number?
BK: Well, Carly's band is -- they're all so close. Carly and her bandmates are great friends and Tavish -- he's kind of Carly's right-hand man as far as music goes, he plays guitar for her live. And it's hard to describe without you knowing him, but he's just a funny dude in general. He delivered the perfect shocked face, which is exactly what we needed for the video.
Dose.ca: So what youâre saying is there was no need for auditions.
BK: Yeah, he was it. Tavish is a very awkward, funny guy. Thatâs a direct quote.
Dose.ca: When did you shoot the video? Itâs a summery theme, but you can definitely see some fall colours on the trees.
BK: Yeah, exactly. I wrote the treatment when I heard the song -- so last August -- and we didn't end up shooting the video until the very end of October. I think it may have been the day before Halloween. It was super cold. Like, summer was very, very far away at that point and it was in Vancouver, so it's just the way things work sometimes. I'll write like a summery video and we don't end up shooting until the fall and it's freezing cold outside -- especially when Carly has to wear little short-shorts and a tank top while washing a car. She was freezing cold, so after I'd yell cut, we'd have people standing by to run in with a coat to cover Carly, and towels. The crew was wearing winter jackets and parkas and stuff and Carly had to stick it out the hard way.
Dose.ca: And you also had her crashing off that car. How was that to set up?
BK: She fell off the car three times, and the first time, she fell and kind of bumped her knee a bit and she had a bruise from that, I believe. We had, basically, couch cushions laid down behind the car, so she would just hit those and roll off. â¦ We knew we needed something soft, but we didnât have a legit crash pad.
Dose.ca: Couch cushions: thatâs how indie this video was.
BK: Yeah, yeah. Iâm proud of this video because it's up for Video of the Year, against, like, Marianas Trench and Hedley videos which are bigger in budget, maybe, but I think this video has a lot of merit in the twist ending. It's the little video that could, in my opinion.
Dose.ca: Itâs a little video thatâs generated hundreds of other videos, too -- not just the official one.
BK: Yeah, yeah. Oh man, so good! I just watched the Obama mash-up. So funny. Actually, people are doing covers of the song, too. Like I just watched the band fun. -- they did one. At a radio station they covered âCall Me Maybe,â and, you know, itâs pretty crazy to see the support. This song is going to be an entire year for Carly, you know.
Dose.ca: All the lipdubs: what was the first one you noticed?
BK: It had to be the Justin Bieber one where he's partying with his friends and stuff -- that had to be the first one I really noticed. It's just crazy. I was with Carly yesterday and she actually got a letter from John Mayer, because apparently she mentions him in a few press things and he took time to write her a little letter of encouragement and that was pretty rad. Carly's everywhere now, it's crazy. She deserves it, she's such a sweetheart. She honestly deserves this success.
âCall Me Maybeâ is nominated for Video of the Year. The 2012 MuchMusic Video Awards air on MuchMusic Sunday, June 17 at 9 p.m. ET. For more MMVA coverage, check out Dose.ca/MMVAs.