'Call Me Maybe': Inside Carly Rae Jepsen's instant classic video
If you were anywhere near a screen that had the potential to play music videos over the summer, chances are you cast your gaze at Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” more than once. The clip, which helped catapult Jepsen from Canadian Idol also-ran to chart-topping international superstar and Grammy nominee, starred Jepsen, the hunky model who stood in as the object of her affection, and one of the great classic twists in the history of music videos. Below, video director Ben Knechtel spins the story of the making of the video for the official song of summer 2012. For more stories behind this year’s top TV, movie, and music moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes) coverage.
As told by: Ben Knechtel
Me and Carly go back a few years now. I work at 604 Records, which is Carly’s Canadian record label. I’ve known her since 2008, and this has been the same team all along. It’s cool to see everyone still together and working on such a large scale now. I’ve actually directed her last four videos. I did the first video with her on a shoestring budget, and that got me in the door with her management and label and with her, and ever since then we established a great working relationship. She trusts me.
I heard the song for the first time [in August 2011], which is pretty crazy. The song wasn’t out yet, and they asked me if I wanted to write a treatment. So I got to listen to it really early, and I remember saying to my wife, “This song is going to be huge.” But I was thinking it’d be big in Canada. You can’t really gauge or anticipate it being such a giant song worldwide. But I remember saying to my wife that it was going to be a huge song, and it’s been incredible to see her go on this journey to pop superstar.
I wrote the treatment [for “Call Me Maybe”]. When I was in college, I made this little video for a school project where I was washing a car like Jessica Simpson in The Dukes of Hazzard. I was in these Daisy Duke shorts, and I had borrowed a bikini top from a girl in one of my classes. It was just a ridiculous over-the-top parody of the classic car wash scene. It’s super embarrassing, but I think you can still find it online somewhere. I always thought that was funny, and people got a kick out of it back then, and I always wanted to find an outlet to do that sort of thing again. “Call Me Maybe” ended up being that outlet.
The dude’s name is Holden Nowell, I think everybody just calls him “Hot Dude.” He’s a model and actor, and a rapper as well. We put up a casting call, and I think we saw 10 guys. Carly was at the casting call with me, and one by one, a guy would come in, and we’d meet him, and he would take his shirt off. And then Holden came out and took his shirt off and Carly was just like, “Uh, yeah. That one.” He’s just naturally ripped. It’s crazy.
It was a relatively small video shoot. We shot it in 12 hours in Langley, British Columbia, which is about 40 minutes outside of Vancouver. It was the day before Halloween, because I remember we had to take down some Halloween decorations because we wanted it to be a summer video. It definitely was not summer — it was freezing cold. I think it was raining four days beforehand, and it stopped raining one day and that’s when we shot the video. Then it rained for the rest of the week. That’s Vancouver for you. I was wearing a winter jacket, some of the crew were in parkas, and poor Holden couldn’t wear a shirt.
I’ll probably never experience anything like this. I remember calling my mom when it hit a million views, and I called home and got really excited about one million views. And now it’s over 300 million and everything is just kind of gravy now. But I was impressed when it hit a million views!
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