'Baby One More Time' Video Director Nigel Dick on the Iconic Video 20 Years Later: 'It's All About Britney'

'Baby One More Time' Video Director Nigel Dick on the Iconic Video 20 Years Later: 'It's All About Britney'


“She simply [said], ‘Put me in a classroom with some cute boys. And I need to dance.’”

Britney Spears’ video for “….Baby One More Time” has almost 368 million views on YouTube. It’s a secure wager that none of these views come from the clip’s director, Nigel Dick.

It’s not that he isn’t keen on the now-iconic clip for Spears’ first single, which celebrated its 20th anniversary on Tuesday (Oct. 23). It’s simply that Dick, who's directed greater than 400 movies, has no want to look again. “I find it irresistible. I used to be there on the day,” he shrugs. “People say, 'Do you understand…? And this bit occurred…?’ And it's like, ‘Yeah, I fucking directed it. You don't want to inform me what's in it.’”

Shot at Venice High School in Los Angeles over three days in August 1998 for $300,000, the legendary music video set Spears, then only a 16-year-old a few years faraway from The Mickey Mouse Club, on her solution to superstardom. Clad in a not-that-innocent faculty woman uniform, Spears prettily pouts for the digital camera, her expressive brown eyes stuffed with craving for the boy that acquired away. Spears premiered the video on MTV’s Total Request Live in December, and music video historical past was quickly made.

Though the picture of Spears in a brief blue skirt, a tied-up white shirt revealing her midriff and thigh-high socks within the faculty hallway is seared into most individuals’s brains, the clip has a number of different memorable sequences, together with scenes on the college terrace and within the gymnasium. The idea, of a woman daydreaming at school and eager for the boy she misplaced, was developed from an concept Spears had after Jive Records rejected Dick’s unique therapy — which he declines to disclose, preferring to save lots of the story for a e book he’s writing.

“The label simply rang me and mentioned, ‘Look, this isn't the concept we need to do, however Britney has an concept. Why don't you guys get on the telephone?’” he says. “I had a momentary hissy match about why ought to I be on the telephone with a 16-year previous woman? And then you definitely simply have a second of realization — that she in all probability understands her market higher than I do.” Dick additionally admits his attending an all-boys U.Okay. boarding faculty left him ill-equipped to copy the American highschool expertise. “She simply [said], ‘Put me in a classroom with some cute boys. And I need to dance.’ You go, ‘Okay,’ and then you definitely simply flesh it out.”

Dick, who had directed such clips as Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Head over Heels”; Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine” and “Paradise City”; and Oasis’ “Wonderwall,” was an MTV fixture famend for his work with rock bands earlier than crossing paths with Spears. His colleagues even suggested him to go on directing a clip from the brand new pop ingenue, fearful it might harm his status. “Their recommendation was work with established artists, and with out being pompous about it, I simply tried to at all times be open,” he says. “If I just like the music and I'm going to receives a commission for doing it, I'll do it. I've carried out so many issues the place folks have mentioned, ‘You shouldn't do it,’ or the artist was unknown or troublesome or no matter, and it turned out to be essential to my profession.”

Despite his present (and sensible) worry that “once I die, folks will say, ‘The man that did Britney Spears movies is lifeless,'” Dick good-naturedly mentioned intimately — with close to excellent recall — the making of the traditional clip with Streets Talkin in September over espresso in a restaurant in Los Angeles. He declined, nevertheless, to observe the video once more: “I don't need to be that man on the bar saying, 'Do you understand I used to be the bloke that did this?’ I'm nonetheless working. I need to look ahead.”

Meeting Britney: “She was very bubbly, she was very open. It was a really temporary assembly in New York,” Dick remembers. “I had no concept what the Mickey Mouse Club was, as a result of though I'd lived right here at that time for in all probability 10 years, I had higher issues to do than watch youngsters packages. So it wasn't until she turned fairly profitable that individuals mentioned, ‘Well, she knew Justin [Timberlake] within the Mickey Mouse Club and Christina Aguilera.’ And then you definitely discover out it was principally a college for younger showbiz youngsters on some degree.”

Dick credit her Disney coaching along with her seasoned work ethic. “That defined to me why she was so accommodating at that younger age,” he says. “She knew she wanted to rehearse. There have been no complaints. She was very skilled. That had a huge impact on the beginning of her profession, and he or she'd clearly had years of coaching to get to that time.”

That Uniform: “I used to be informed on the time no piece of clothes in the whole video price greater than 17 bucks — it was all from Kmart,” Dick says. “I acquired the wardrobe particular person to return to the set with a bunch of denims, sneakers and t-shirts. Britney simply circled and mentioned, ‘Well, shouldn't I be sporting a college woman's outfit?' And I'm like ‘No!’” he remembers, forming a cross along with his index fingers.

Not everybody shared his viscerally unfavorable response, nevertheless. “My producer and the manager producer from the label — who’re each girls — go, ‘No, I feel that's a very good concept,’" he says. "Music mags mentioned this artist was conceived by a bunch of soiled previous males in a convention room sporting raincoats. Which, in my expertise, was not the way it occurred in any respect.”

Location, Location, Location: After scouting a number of colleges, Dick chosen Venice High School, which had already achieved fame as the college the place Oli Newton-John and John Travolta filmed the traditional film musical Grease. “Summer faculty was in session. The very first thing we shot have been the pictures of Britney within the automotive and the coated luncheon space,” Dick says. “The subsequent day we did the gymnasium, and the ultimate day we did the classroom, as a result of that was a weekend by that time and there was no person there. The most stunning factor about in search of places was we had problem discovering a hallway with lockers in it, as a result of most of them had been eliminated or welded shut so that children wouldn’t convey weapons to highschool.”

The most complex shot of all? “Probably her dancing within the [corridor] as a result of you possibly can't get across the facet,” Dick continues. “It's like wanting down the barrel of a gun. Having the digital camera three toes on both facet shouldn’t be actually gonna change the angle that a lot. Everything is wanting on the entrance. [It’s] not sophisticated, however you go, ‘Okay, I'm constrained right here. How am I gonna get the protection I must get?’ Just a sensible filmmaking factor. The fantastic thing about the video on some degree is there's nothing fancy about it. It's very… ho-hum isn't fairly the phrase, but it surely's very strange on some degree, which is I feel, one of many motive Britney shines — as a result of it's all about Britney.”

Flipping Out: Spears’ two spectacular again flips throughout the terrace phase have been her concept. “I keep in mind saying one thing like, 'Do you want a pad?' If I'd been a mum or dad she'd have gone, 'Dad!' No, she might clearly do it,” Dick says. “I used to be like, ‘All proper, go for it!’ That’s the fantastic thing about working with any individual who's 16. They've acquired boundless power. It's not like any individual comes as much as me after a primary take and places a hand in your shoulder and goes, ‘Just so you understand, I solely acquired three extra takes in me.’ No. That's the glory of working with younger folks.”

Family Ties: Spears’ love curiosity, who’s seen solely briefly within the gymnasium as they alternate glances, was her cousin Chad. “She mentioned, ‘Can my cousin be the man?' I mentioned, 'Sure, why not?’” Dick says. “It's like, ‘Okay, that's one other choice we don't should make. Moving onto the subsequent one.’ Because taking pictures any job, nevertheless large or nevertheless small, is a mixture of 10,000 choices. It's a look. He glances again. Next. Don't flip it into Gone With the Wind.”

Missed Shot: During the gymnasium scene across the three:09 mark, a scholar sporting a basketball jersey with the quantity 91 makes a blinding twist towards the basket — and misses the shot. “He's in all probability in his 40s now, going, ‘I’m the man who missed the fucking [shot]’,” Dick says with a chuckle. “I can't keep in mind if he simply couldn't do it or if I picked the one the place he didn’t do it. But that's actual life. They're not all LeBron James.”

Miss American Dream: “It's actually concerning the music and about Britney — I had my half in it, however I might be a idiot to go up on a podium and say, 'Without the video I made for Britney…,’” Dick says. “The factor that made me the happiest was that instantly after the video was carried out, quite a lot of folks mentioned, ‘That actually jogs my memory of what it was wish to be at school,’ besides there was no dancing. And having by no means been inside an American faculty as a schoolboy, my whole expertise of American faculty life was from motion pictures; to recreate a life expertise that everyone I meet in America has had… job carried out.”

Oops: Dick and Spears labored collectively once more on the clips for 1999's “(You Drive Me) Crazy” and 2000’s space-themed “Oops!…I Did It Again,” which featured Spears clad in an unforgettable crimson leather-based bodysuit. As grown-up as that ensemble was, it has nothing on Britney’s unique wardrobe alternative. “She walked on set sporting a [revealing] outfit, and I simply turned to the supervisor and the label [rep] and mentioned, 'Are we completely positive that is what Britney needs to be sporting?' I acquired them to dial that outfit again,” Dick says. “Whatever it was, which I don't keep in mind now, was very, very overt — and at that time I mentioned, 'I simply don't assume that is acceptable for this artist at this stage of her profession. She's racing forward of her viewers.’”

“Oops” was the final video Dick directed for Spears. To at the present time, he doesn’t know if it was as a result of he voiced his objection to her outfit, or for another motive. “I'm positive there have been quite a lot of different elements, however subsequently, you go, ‘Well possibly that had one thing to do with why we by no means labored collectively.’ You don't know,” he says. “The final time I noticed Britney was [after] having minimize ‘Oops!…I Did It Again.’ She was rehearsing for some TV present in The Valley, and I went over with [the finished video] and confirmed it. I walked away and have by no means seen her once more.”