Thursday, 23 August 2012

Chou Style: King of MVs/Music Footage Book

I first posted the translations for this book on multistars forums in 2011.

"Is it harder creating music to go along with footage, or creating footage to go along with music?
It is not important, because I can do BOTH!"--- Jay Chou

This is essentially a book with 30 chapters, with insights from Jay and his crew/friends about the making of his music videos. Each chapter has photos from a particular MV, although the explanations do not necessarily relate to the MV depicted.
I've translated as best as I can.

Chapter One: tells of his first experience in directing Nan Quan Ma Ma's MV for 'Home' and he wanted to make it memorable.

Chapter Two: He's most happy with the MV for Twilight's Chapter Seven. Although he had limited resources, he still flew the crew to England to film. It's a MV with beautiful imagery and he thought it was much better than that for Red Imitation. The latter was nominated for GMA Best Music Video but Jay felt Twilight deserved the honour much more.

Chapter Three: His photographer wrote this chapter. Jay has progressed from a songwriter to a director but is always keen to learn more and he's meticulous about the finest details. Yet, he has the big picture in mind and is also able to give the other members of his team leeway to express and execute their ideas. He also likes to use 35mm film.

Chapter Four: Written by Jay, he makes no apologies for spending as much as is necessary to produce a good MV.

Chapter Five: Here, Jay tells of the difference between shooting a MV and a movie, with the former of course taking a shorter time to get results and a sense of satisfaction.

Chapter Six: Here, Jay says he felt somewhat embarrassed about winning the Golden Horse Award for Best Newcomer (Initial D) as he had had plenty of experience in acting, thanks to his music videos!

Chapter Seven: Here, his assistant director Jennifer spills on his love of eating whilst doing post-production work. According to her, he loves telling stories and is able to conceptualise and visualise his MVs smoothly. He always wants to be different too. However, Qing Hua Ci was a sequel to Hair Like Snow, which was also what he wanted. (there were criticisms that the two MVs were too similar).

Chapter Eight: Jay's curious about his fate with his friends. He feels that a regretful memory leaves a deeper impression and that a regretful love is even more beautiful.

I believe Kelvin from JCS actually posted something about this on 28/02/11 on the Jay News guys can refer there too. His translation's good.

Chapter Nine:Jay emphasises again that he likes to be challenged and try new ideas for his MVs. Likes to compete with himself.

Chapter Ten: This chapter shows pics from the MV for Directed and Acted by Yourself, which featured the Citroen GT from the Shanghai Car Show. Here, he says as his dancing is not as good as other R&B singers, his car has then to be more outstanding.

Chapter Eleven: He rewatches every MV he makes many times. To reach this level of narcissism is not easy. But if he doesn't enjoy his own MVs, how then can he expect others to do so??

Chapter Twelve: This one's written by Emily, his hairstylist-turned-fashion-stylist. Jay asked her out of the blue, one day to be his fashion stylist. Emily didn't take him seriously, thinking he was lacking sleep and not of clear mind(!) She also thought it was unnecessary for her to be his stylist as he usually had very strong opinions about what he wanted. So she didn't give it another thought until the studio execs talked to her about this.
Cowboy Very Busy was the first MV she helped on. Jay would do his research and references, discuss with her the concepts and how to present them but yet giving her room to have her own ideas.
They were both keen to try something fresh and different.
Jay is willing to try any style, usually carrying them of with panache, even the more unusual ones (don't we know that??). He's not that self-conscious(!)

 Chapter Thirteen: Jay finds that filming in Hollywood and Taiwan is similar in many ways but there's always more to learn. He thinks he should have a director from overseas (Michel Gondry??) for the MVs for his next album.

Chapter Fourteen: He still prefers to use traditional film for his MVs, rather than HD.

Chapter Fifteen: Emphasises (again) that dancing is not his forte but music is and he thus relies on listening to the rhythm of fast songs to help him. And he'll check with the choreographer when he's editing.

Chapter Sixteen: Short snippet about how fierce he apparently was whilst shooting a MV for NQMM but he felt bad about it and the day after, specially looked for Lara and the other actor (?) to check on them and make sure they were okay.

Chapter Seventeen:Here, his assistant Danni mentions how she's always being roped in by Jay to act in his MVs and as she says: "Can I say No to my boss??"
She says he's a very hardworking director; she can't fathom where all his creativity comes from. Once he has an idea, he'll start calling all his crew to get to work. He does the post-production editing, using all his spare time, sacrificing even sleep and recreation. And her most important task is to make sure he is well-supplied with tidbits!

Chapter Eighteen: This one is in reference to Where Is The Promised Happiness. Jay says this is a very sad song and so he kept the MV simple.

Chapter Nineteen: He fancies himself like Michael Jackson, wanting always to give his fans the best MVs he can, so as not to disappoint them.

Chapter Twenty: Jay has always wanted to directed his own MVs. He feels the MV adds to the enjoyment of the song. When he writes a song, he often already has feel of the MV in place so he finds it pretty easy to shoot said MV. Another important role he finds in his MV-filming is that he gets to preserve images of the scenery, especially in Taipei, for posterity.

Chapter Twenty-One: Written by Du Ge (Jay's good friend and makeup artist), he tells of how often he gets roped in to act in Jay's MVs and he's grateful for the opportunity to realise that he, Du Ge, can act!
He also understands how complicated it can be to shoot an MV.
Jay could have been satisfied being just a singer but he just likes directing and is always trying to learn whatever he can.
He may seem childlike at heart, but once he's in the director's chair, he's totally focused on the task at hand.

Chapter Twenty-Two: Here, Jay talks about 'I'm Not Worthy' and how he wanted to use it to strike a sympathetic chord with his friends in the showbiz industry and their issues with maintaining their privacy. Difficulties with having a love life Jay says he's glad he's single now.
Jay says: Chinese pop singers hardly ever shoot an mv about their own lives, I wanted to do one to resonate with other artistes in the industry. Which is why I did 'I'm Not Worthy' and added in real-life examples like having to sit apart in the cinema and wearing a mask when out.

Chapter Twenty-Three: Jay enjoyed helping to direct Alan Kuo's MV for Do Not Worry which garnered him many compliments from his friends in the industry. Altho' oftentimes he may appear playful, he takes his shooting/directing of MVs very seriously.

Chapter Twenty-Four: Here, Jay talks about how Zhong Guo Feng (Chinese style) MVs are his trademark, which were helped very much with Vincent Fang's expressive lyrics. He was also very inspired by Zhang Yimou's movies, especially Hero and feels other fellow directors can use his (Jay's) MVs as a basis of comparison.

Chapter Twenty-Five: This is written by one of his assistants (I think) and talks about Jay's simplicity and lack of special requests, unlike many big-name directors. Also talks about the making of Dragon Rider, which was a complicated shoot. But Jay was immensely dedicated and committed to doing everything in the smoothest, quickest way. He thinks out of the box and has a very strong work ethic.

Chapter Twenty-Six: Here, Jay esssentially emphasises that he enjoys telling stories but the plot and storyline must be simple and easy to follow yet evoke the right emotions. He has also enjoyed acting in his MVs as he could portray so many different characters.

Chapter Twenty-Seven: Here he talks again about how it's easier to shoot an MV than a movie, simply because of the time factor and although people may miss out on some parts of the story in the MV ('cos it only lasts a few minutes), he'll still shoot it like he was doing a movie.

Chapter Twenty-Eight: In this chapter, he says he likes to shoot the MV as quickly and as smoothly as possible. And when inspiration strikes, he'll rustle up his friends and crew and get to work ASAP! He's grateful to them for always being so accomodating of his requests to work within a limited time frame. He believes, however, that they should be happy with the end-product and feel it has been worth their while.

Chapter Twenty-Nine: This is written by one of his crew but I'm not sure who..yet. It tells of Jay's specific instructions and how the crew also work closely with him. Jay also gets ideas for his next album from doing a present MV sometimes.
He's like a magician, putting everything together.

Chapter Thirty: This one's by his stylist, about the various costumes and get-ups in eight of his mvs, viz...Cowboy Very Busy, Sunshine Homeboy, Hip-Hop Air Stewardwess, The Era, Dragon Rider, Rosemary, Mr Magic/Uncle Joker.

And here is a link to a feature about Jay as Mandopop's King of Music Videos from LOUD in The New Paper recently, which identifies four main reasons why he reigns supreme viz:

His passion and commitment
He's a creative whiz
He turns criticisms into challenges
Eye candy!

Gotta say I agree with the article!

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