Remembering Iconic Brit Awards Music Videos with Director Vaughan Arnell

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Merman director on his Brit Awards wins and nuggets from his music video shoots with Robbie Williams and The Spice Girls
Remembering Iconic Brit Awards Music Videos with Director Vaughan Arnell

The Spice Girls' 'Say You’ll Be There' was the first music video I’d directed solo and I was extremely nervous. I had the song in the car for weeks but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it and if I even wanted to do it. Ashley Newton from Virgin Records kept at me to have a go and once I’d listened to the song a few times, I decided I quite liked it and to give it a bash.

I took inspiration for the video from the B movie Faster Pussycat Kill which surprisingly the girls and the music label really went for. It was their second single from their debut album 'Spice' and the girls were hot property so I couldn’t get this wrong. Once in LA, we rehearsed all the Kung Fu moves in the Four Seasons hotel before heading out to the desert for a one day shoot. On the day of the shoot, the wardrobe stylist Kim Bowen managed to lock her keys in her car back in LA along with all the S&M bondage gear we’d hired meaning everything was delayed. Cutting a long story short, I had only four hours to shoot the video!

Fortunately the girls were very professional, especially Victoria (Posh) who stood on the back of the car for the entire time and didn’t moan once! The shoot ended with us all lying under the stars in the desert contemplating life when Mel B in her thick northern accent screamed “OMG he’s in the nud!” And the DOP had indeed stripped off and bathed in all his glory in the desert light. It was a bit of a risk but everyone went nuts for it and was up for a Brit award the next year!

One special thing I remember from the 'Millennium' shoot was obtaining 1960s film stock. ‘Kodak Reversal’ was so limited we had to get it directly from Stanley Kubrick himself and flew it especially from New York. I was nominated again at the Brit’s for Best Video, against myself with George Michael’s 'Outside' and Robbie’s other video 'Let Me Entertain You' which was a little awkward! However, I still managed to miss picking up the award as I was on the loo at the time it was announced.

Rock DJ was probably one of the most memorable shoots. I remember Carrie Sutton, Robbie’s video commissioner asking me if Robbie Williams actually was going to end up looking like a peeled rabbit to which I vehemently denied! We also gave Sara Cox a sneak preview and she was pretty shell shocked afterwards. Robbie, always playing the joker, decided he liked the makeup so much that he popped to the local garage wearing it for a packet of fags and then to the pub for a quick pint. Rock DJ won a Brit that year, garnered over 58 million views on YouTube and also was named one of the most groundbreaking music videos of all time. Pretty chuffed with that.

Vaughan Arnell's Winners:

- 1997: Spice Girls “Say You’ll Be There”

- 1999: Robbie Williams “Millenium”

- 2001: Robbie Williams “Rock DJ”


Nominees:

- 1995: Jamiroquai “Space Cowboy”

- 1996: Take That “Back For Good”

- 1997: George Michael “Fast Love”

- 1998: Jamiroquai “Alright"

- 1999: George Michael “Outside”

- 1999: Robbie Williams “Let Me Entertain You”

- 2001: All Saints “Pure Shores”

- 2001: Texas “In Demand”

- 2002: Robbie Williams “Supreme”

- 2014: John Newman “Love Me Again”

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Merman UK, 5 months ago