Megaforce lets us in on the most talked-about video of the year: ‘There aren’t any political or moralistic ideas in there at all’
When that Rihanna and Megaforce-directed video for "Bitch Better Have My Money" dropped last week, everyone went a bit nuts. Is it all about her accountant? Is it feminist? Is it anti-feminist? Does it make any sense? Is it imbued with a secret code that we should all be trying to crack right this instant? Here at Dazed, we devoured her soon-to-be-iconic outfit choices and argued over which cult film references were the most blatant. With an explosively cinematic seven minutes of kidnapping, murder and arson, it’s an incredible video – that much is obvious. But in order to put all this speculative madness to bed, we decided to give Léo Berne from award-winning director’s collective Megaforce a ring to find out how the four of them, and Rihanna, created one of the most talked-about music videos of the year.
ALWAYS LISTEN TO RIHANNA
"It’s always fun to work with the artist – especially Rihanna because she’s so involved in what she does and she knows what she wants. Rihanna came up with the main idea of the kidnapping, so we started with the base of the story and then we went into the detail after that. It was also Rihanna’s idea to have her lying naked inside a suitcase of money and covered in blood. It was something she had in mind from the beginning. We had to make some notes about how we’d treat her ideas and her vision. When working with an artist, you need to be open-minded and to find what is in her world and our world and what is in the middle and how that can satisfy both of us. It’s an interesting game to play, and a lot of fun. We are both happy with the final product, and the majority of the response has been positive."
UTILIZE THE WORK OF YOUR IDOLS
"We worked with the cinematographer Benoît Debie on this video, which was incredible. He was the director of photography for Spring Breakers, Enter the Void and The Runaways so we’re big fans of his work. All music videos are shot with the same camera these days but for this we used analogue instead, which means it had all these vivid colours and different kinds of light that we don’t usually see on music videos. It was quite cool to go back to shooting on analogue for those reasons."
FORGET FAIRY TALES
"I don’t like the idea of sending a message in a music video. The idea of having a message comes from fairy tales, as when we’re children we’re used to having a moral at the end of a story and this has stuck to everybody. But with this, we never aimed to tell stuff like this to people; it’s not that pretentious I’m afraid. People look too much into these things, and try and find a political message, but for me it’s just a story in a music video for entertainment. There aren’t any political or moralistic ideas in there at all."
ALWAYS KEEP IT REAL
"When Rachel Roberts (the victim of Rihanna's vengeance) was hanging from the ceiling, we did it for real and there was no stunt artist. She was really great. There’s this part in the video where she’s falling and she actually fell in real life. It wasn’t intentional, it was an accident that happened whilst shooting and she really hurt herself. But we kept it because it looked amazing. There was a lot of blood but she was really nice and professional even though she’d hurt herself. She was a pleasure to work with and she’s a great actress. She was hanging upside down for many takes but she didn’t complain."
LEARN HOW TO TREAT VIOLENCE LIKE QUENTIN TARANTINO
"I would say that most of the film references are unconscious, although it’s quite a violent story and so we decided to go with a nineties tone, with a touch of humour, in the same spirit of Quentin Tarantino’s work. We wanted to keep it cool and funny. I wouldn’t say Tarantino was the biggest influence, but he was a reference in terms of tone and the way to portray violence. It had to be a bit violent to do the story justice, and to reflect the lyrics and story of the song. There are way more violent stuff in cinema, and I suppose we were more influenced by cinema than other music videos so that’s why it has more violence."