La Blogothèque

Justin Timberlake & Chris Stapleton – “Say Something”

17 musicians, a 60 people choir, 5 floors, 2 elevators, 1 camera and so many microphones: it’s Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton’s Take Away Show, shot live at the amazing Bradbury Building in Los Angeles.

“Can you imagine if we were to film Justin Timberlake one day?”

It’s a childish game, a universal one, as naive as essential. We tell each other stories, we fantasize inaccessible dreams. Technically possible but highly unlikely. We do it on our own when we’re bored. We do it collectively, getting so excited together with crazy ideas – things that will never happen but that are worth making up, creating just in our minds.

“Do you think he would do a Take Away Show?”

Until they actually happen. “Hi, I’m working for Justin Timberlake’s team. He’d like to shoot a video with you. Would you be available early next month?“. And this is when we stepped into the unknown. There were so very little information that we only ended up guessing that if someone like him came to us, it was because he wanted to play on our field. Well, at least we hoped…

“Do you think he’d play purely acoustic?”

So we spent weeks wondering, holding on to the thin hope that we were going there to do what we do best, that the mainstream wasn’t going to swallow us all.

When we got to Los Angeles, five days before the shoot, all we had was this hope. The hills around the city were on fire. We had no idea where we were stepping into, when suddenly, everything was put in place. Very quickly. So quickly. And then we knew.

We were going to play under our rules: one shot, organic sound recording, in one place. But Justin would set up some rules as well: let’s do something massive, ambitious, perfectly planned.

Together, we drew an insane picture: all the musicians would be spread over the five floors of the gigantic Bradbury Building in Downtown Los Angeles. Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton would walk around this beautiful place, going from an abandoned room into the stairs and the elevators, building the song “Say Something” step by step, while we would record everything live, and shoot with one camera only, just like any of our Take Away Shows. The small difference here being that they were 17 musicians and a choir of 60 people…

Justin Timberlake was attentive, open and receptive. More importantly, he was into the moment, incredibly focused, as if he was telling us “don’t pay attention to me, there’s so much more to do”. He had changed the axiom around which our day would turn. From “let’s get all the right ingredients and let the magic happen”, we went to “let’s plan this so meticulously that the magic can happen”. And guess what? Seing our fantasy being embodied so precisely and beautifully was also, well… magical.

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A film by La Blogothèque Directed by Arturo Perez Jr.
Sound Directors: Guillaume De La Villéon & Henri D’Armancourt
Executive Director / Creative Director: Christophe ‘Chryde’ Abric
Director of Photography: Bill Kirstein