“Call Me Maybe”. You’ve probably never heard of it.
An obscure little song by an unknown artist named Carly Rae Jepsen.
It certainly didn’t spend nine weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
Its video surely hasn’t been seen hundreds of millions of times.
It hasn’t been parodied over and over. And definitely not with corgis.
All right, so if a song has defined 2012 it’s “Call Me Maybe”, the tirelessly catchy hit that went absolutely ballistic on the charts earlier this year.
Since arriving on YouTube in March, the video – a little twist on a boy-next-door flirtation – has gained over 250 million views.
And that’s a quarter of a billion times someone’s seen the handiwork of two Film Production grads, Art Director Jan Floor and Set Decorator Victoria Pearson.
I threw a wish in the well…
Victoria graduated from VFS in October 2010, Jan just two months later.
“The first year was all about getting my name out there and establishing and refining my skills set,” Jan says. “I mostly worked on music videos as an art assistant, working my way up to art directing by the end of the year.”
Victoria, meanwhile, had taken on a full-time job in Film Production as a production design teaching assistant, which kept her plenty busy. But she also managed to find time to work on over 20 outside productions.
I wasn’t looking for this…
Neither Jan nor Victoria had felt any particular affinity for the art department when they started their year at VFS. “Like many people who start Film Production, I had an idea on what I wanted to do,” Jan says. “I really was not sure what exactly what the art department was or what it entailed.”
“When I found out, I knew that all things production design – including art direction – was where I wanted my professional focus to be.”
Victoria’s early ambitions were even more specific. “I was dead set on getting into the cinematography department. I had taken cinematography all through high school and loved working with the camera, specifically camera operating. That was my main focus for roughly the first three terms.”
Then she was asked to design one of the productions from her class: A Noble Cause. “This short film called for not only full military costuming, but an entire market in the middle of Baghdad,” she explains. That sold her. Welcome to the art department. “It was quite the challenge, considering our location started out as the Richmond Night Market, but after a four-hour dress I was able to turn it into a completely different country.”
“I was so thrilled with the results that I decided this was what I wanted to pursue after graduation.”
Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy…
But no other gig can quite match the insane success of this one music video by a then-unknown Carly Rae Jepsen.
“How I got the gig to do the ‘Call me Maybe’ music video was all in who I knew,” Jan says. “I had been working with the producers of the video for the past year and they called and asked if I wanted to do it.”
And Jan and Victoria had worked together on over six productions since graduating.
“[Jan] contacted me the week before Halloween and asked if I wanted to jump on board as his set decorator for a music video he was shooting,” Victoria says. “I jumped at the opportunity, and before I knew it we were on our way on what was, I think, one of the coldest days that year had seen.”
Hot night, wind was blowin’…
“The video actually had a fairly straightforward concept of the girl and boy next door,” Jan says. “Most decisions in prep were done as a collaboration between the director and myself and it was up to me take the directors concept and build a world for the video to live in.”
That meant transforming a living room into Jepsen’s, sprucing up the car that had a central role in the video’s concept, and creating the band’s rehearsal space in the garage – including over 50 “greeked” posters.
And for a video – and song – with a decidedly summery feel, the fall shoot meant a little improvisation. “One of the funniest [tasks], I thought, was removing the Halloween decorations from the neighbors yards,” Victoria says.
Where you think you’re going, baby?
Unknown to either of them, the single was climbing the charts. Suddenly, both the song and the video had become a phenomenon.The “Call Me Maybe” shoot happened. Jan and Victoria each refocused on their next gigs. Months passed.
“I think the first time I found out that it had become a smash it was when my mom called me saying, ‘We were listening to the radio and apparently this young artist has gone from zero to 60 overnight,” Victoria says. “The song is called ‘Call me Maybe’, I think?’”
“I almost dropped the phone and ran to my computer to watch the video.”
By then, the video had racked up about 400,000 views. Pretty good, but just a hint at the stratospheric hit it would soon become. To put it into context, if views were people, today the video would be the fourth most populous country in the world. (Sorry, Indonesia.)
“For me, it’s funny because when you do a music video you hear the song many, many times over,” Jan says. “So when I hear the song on the radio, it gets stuck in my head again.”
Call meme maybe…
One of the more surreal aspects of the single’s meteoric rise is the sheer number of parodies and memes it spawned. It’s a weird feeling for the crew who worked on the video – and a source of much amusement.
So, do Jan and Victoria have any favourite spoofs?
“It seems that every day there’s another parody,” Victoria says. “Being quite the Lord of the Rings fan, I’d have to say that this one would be my favourite.”
For Jan, it’s all about the corgis:
“I think it accomplished capturing the essence of the original video,” he says.
“While making it hilarious.”