“How Will I Know” Video Director Remembers Whitney Houston
We, like the rest of the world, are saddened by the untimely loss of the great Whitney Houston, so we went to Brian Grant, the music video director who shot Whitney’s iconic videos for “How Will I Know” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” to get his reaction and reminiscence.
“Very sad to hear about the death of Whitney Houston,” Grant told us by email on Sunday. “I was lucky enough to work with her before all the bad stuff happened. She was a young woman whose infectious laughter and sense of fun was captivating, coupled with a voice that was truly astonishing. The world is a duller place without this kind of talent.”
Recently, Grant had shared stories with us about shooting her first big non-ballad video, “How Will I Know”.
“Someone at Arista said to me, ‘We’ve got this artist named Whitney Houston, it’s her first album, Clive [Davis, head of Arista] thinks she’s going to be huge,'” recalled Grant. “‘You’re good with women, have a listen at this piece of music.’ I listened to this music, a fantastic voice and a very striking-looking twenty year old, so I come up with this slightly abstract idea – ‘How Will I Know?’ so you’re sort of lost somehow – we made it abstract by making this sort of maze. You’ve got to get that first image. What’s the first thing that comes into your head when you hear it? You never know where you’ll end up, but you’ve got to start somewhere and that’s kind of where I started – I’m lost. We built a maze and threw colored printing ink at it, just to make it as colorful and as fun as possible. That was really the only intention. It’s a real piece of pure pop. Simple and energetic, and she didn’t have any baggage then. Just a very positive song, and have as much fun as you can.”
Grant also recalls being taken aback when he shot Whitney’s first close-ups.
“I always remember that part of my usual process was that whenever we shot, we always had a marked close-up of the person singing the song as a sort of safety net. If you didn’t shoot everything you needed, you can always go back to the close-up. I always used to operate a camera, and I used to always light that shot, especially with women. I always remember this moment. We’re shooting her close-up, I’m operating the camera, the first chorus comes up, and she smiled at the camera, and my knees went.”
Take a look at Grant’s work here. And rest in peace, Whitney.