Back in 1993, David Bowie enlisted director Mark Romanek to helm music videos for “Jump They Say,” the affecting track said to be about Bowie’s half-brother Terry, who had died in 1985, and “Black Tie White Noise,” both off Black Tie White Noise. The clips became classic reminders of Bowie’s excellent, creative visuals associated with his music. After the iconic singer’s death on Sunday, Romanek spoke to EW about their collaborations.
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According to Romanek, Bowie reached out to him directly and asked to work with him. “I met him at the Record Plant in New York City where he proceeded to play me his new album blasted over the big monitors at the mixing board,” Romanek tells EW. “I think I was literally pinching myself. I could barely hear the music, because I was in a state of shock that this was happening, that he even knew I existed. As for the video, he was very trusting, inspiring, easy. He liked my ideas and let me get on with it. I felt more like he was providing me with an opportunity for my own creative expression. He was a generous and powerful catalyst in that way.”
“Jump They Say” shows Bowie as a drone-like businessman on the edge of a roof and critics noticed homages to classic films like Alphaville, The Trial, and A Clockwork Orange in its scenes. “He just sort of let me get on with it and was very happy to be the jewel in this setting,” Romanek says, “this context we’d made for his genius to react to.”
Romanek, who also directed music videos for Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Madonna’s “Bedtime Story,” and “Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” says Bowie was “always polite to a fault” on set. “He seemed very very happy in that time that I knew him, even though [‘Jump They Say’] dealt with a specific and traumatic personal experience. He was perfectionist about his own performance though and came to the monitor to check takes and make small adjustments in his movement. He knew how to perfect and optimize an opportunity to make (yet another) iconic image.”