It’s National Metal Day! Directors Talk About Headbanging Videos

It’s National Metal Day! Directors Talk About Headbanging Videos

In honor of VH1 Classic’s NATIONAL METAL DAY, we present a few passages from directors of many of the most popular heavy metal videos of all time. Rock on.

Doug Freel, director and cameraman on shooting L.A. metal videos in the 1980s:
“It would be this roving pack. I was a cameraman on “Girls Girls Girls”, and they were just going from bar to bar to bar, and I only made it to one bar. Some of those that you just go on for the fun. (laughs). It would be like ‘what are we doing?’ ‘Oh, we’re going to fly Jon Bon Jovi to the top of a rock in Utah.’ On those videos, what’s funny is that people would wait a few years, and then go right back to the same rock to shoot something else. We did things like that with [director] Wayne [Isham]. Just a nonstop party on those basically.”

Mark Rezyka on directing Quiet Riot’s “Cum On Feel The Noize”:
“Editing took a month because the post-production facility had never done editing to a sync track before. It was a nightmare where nothing would sync up. That’s why it has such quick edits — we couldn’t sync anything up for more than a minute or two. Also, I shoot with a lot of camera moves, and I showed to the guys at our production company and they said, ‘This is horrible.’ They kept saying it was ‘unmotivated camera moves.’ Those guys didn’t get it, and basically laughed me out of the room. But I thought it was great. And the label went crazy for it. They loved it.”

Joe Dea on directing Krokus’ “Screaming in the Night” and “Eat the Rich”:
“I remember we advertised on the radio for extras. Everybody else were people who just heard about it on radio. And all these extras showed up — all these kids. And we’re about to start shooting in an hour, we found out that they were all high school students and they were playing hooky, and they were all from this one high school for troubled teenagers. Then later, this one guy, who was the photographer, he was a midget, and I got him to play a court jester. Anyway, somebody stole his camera. And he says, ‘One of the kids stole my camera! I’m calling the police!’ I said, ‘No, no. You can’t call the police! They’re all playing hooky, and if the police come, they’ll find out, and take everybody away!’ It was just one thing like that after another on that shoot.”

Rob Quartly on directing Helix’s “Rock You” and “Heavy Metal Love”:
“The nudity? I tell you one thing, the crew loved it. (laughs) We’d shoot a scene with the girls with the tops on, and then, okay, this one is with the tops off. In Canada on shoots, we often do one in English and one in French, only in this case, it was one with clothes and one without!”

David Mallet on directing Def Leppard’s “Bringing on the Heartbreak”:
“I strapped Joe Elliott to the mast of a boat and pushed him out into the water off Dublin docks. The temperature was minus four. He was wearing a torn vest and not much else. We failed to get him back quick enough, and when we did get him back, he was genuinely hypothermic. I went running up and said, ‘Joe, I’m terribly sorry, I had no intention of doing that to you,’ and Joe said, ‘David, a year ago I was a van driver. Am I going to complain?’ And that was after he was already a rock god. That sums up the attitude of Def Leppard. They were the most professional and gracious people.”

Don Letts on directing Ratt’s “Round and Round”:

“I know my shit, so I know they don’t make guys like the old Hollywood guys anymore, so my shit was I wanted to meet Milton Berle. Also, I wanted to test myself. There ain’t nothing funnier than when I walked into the first meeting, there’s me with my dreadlocks and those guys with their platform boots and spandex, fucking hairdos – it was some funny shit. They’re looking at me thinking ‘how can this dude relate to us?’ and I’m thinking the exact same thing. Also, I always remember the rats. They were supposed to go scurrying away when we pull the top off the tray, but they were L.A. rats so they just hung around. We were like, yeah, we should have gotten some New York rats.”

Marty Callner on Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again”:
“That was my least favorite, albeit the most popular. ‘Is This Love?’ and ‘Still of the Night’ were much better videos and better songs, in my opinion. If you have a great song, you can put it up on the screen, but if you have a lousy song, it doesn’t really matter what you do, it’s not going to be a good video. It’s really about the music. I thought it was kind of poppy and light and shallow, while the others had real depth and real layers to them. So I just made it up as I went along. We didn’t have much money, so we took his Jaguar and my Jaguar and put them together, and my friend Paula Adbul staged Tawny [Kitaen] on the top of these two cars. Who knew that it would be one of the most iconic shots in music video history?”

Lindsey Clennell on directing Whitesnake’s original “Here I Go Again” video in 1982:
“I saw Whitesnake and David Coverdale as only being credible in performance. I had a lot of respect for the people I worked for, and I had a lot of respect for David, but I only saw him credible when he was doing his thing in a smoky, gritty environment, which was the look I’d get in the music video I did for him. When I saw him later and someone had put him on a car and dyed his hair blonde, I mean, I just didn’t know what had happened to the guy. I just saw it as being a mistake. It looked like a shampoo commercial, whereas at one time, he had captured the zeitgeist of the oppressed 70s.”