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S ix years after directing the video for Being boring, Bruce Weber has been approached again to create a promotional clip for late summer’s Se a vida é, second single from Bilingual album. The video was filmed mid-January 1996 at water theme park Wet & Wild club in Orlando, Florida, and the models were supplied by Stephanie Gibbs Models agency.

Literally 15 describes shooting the video:

    In The Beeline Diner at the Peabody Hotel, Neil and Chris discuss tomorrow’s video shoot with Bruce Weber. Bruce Weber is the famous photographer and filmmaker who has directed just one music video before now: the Pet Shop Boys’ Being boring in 1990. His second will be for Se a vida é (that’s the way life is), the song which will be released this summer as the Pet Shop Boys second single of 1996. It is to be filmed at Wet’n’Wild, a theme park full of water rides. Confident in Bruce Weber’s ability to conjure up something fabulous, they have not yet burdened themselves with the details of what the video shoot will actually entail.

    “So what exactly are we going to do?” Chris asks him.

    “We don’t work before ten o’clock,” mentions Neil.

    “The problem is,” says Chris, “what to wear. There’s no way I’m going to go down rides in a pair of swimming trunks in a video.”

    “I could in the right circumstances,” suggests Neil. “If I was only seen from here upwards.” He indicates a line not far below his chin.

    Bruce Weber explains some of his ideas:

    “There’s this thing called the Lazy Riven... There’s a weird photo booth... I’ve this friend who’s a surf photographer and he sent me this film of surfing and I want to have it projected, so you’ll sort of be in the water... I like the suburban-ness of it, all these people in bathing suits... the weird attitude of it...” He has this breathy, gentle and incredibly enthusiastic way of talking which makes everything he says seem really inspiring.

    The diner’s other tables are packed with the international cast of beautiful and interesting people who Weber has gathered together to star in the shoot. “It’s a cast of thousands,” says Chris. “It’s Ben Hur.” Bruce Weber calls one of them over. His name is Pablo and he is a painter; Bruce Weber suggests that Pablo should paint the Pet Shop Boys during the shoot.

    “It’s so us,” says Chris. “We can be still.” Neil wonders whether maybe the painting could become the single sleeve. “We’ve never ever ever ever ever managed once to get the sleeve to coordinate with the video. This could be the first time,” he laughs, “for our 26th single or something.” [and it is, actually, the single sleeve shows stills from the video]

    They discuss how explicit the video can be. Though it is one of their favorite videos, Being boring was never shown properly in America because of the bare flesh. (...) Bruce Weber reassures them. “I thought I’d just try to make the video the best it is for the song. People love your music. And because there’re so many trendy videos that way, maybe it’s sexier not to.”

    (...)

    The cast gathers in bathing costumes, holding or floating on an array of animal-shaped inflatable, forming a large, shifting flotilla. Neil and Chris paddle out to them on lilos. Everyone is encouraged to have as much fun as possible, while camera-people with all different kinds of cameras (some carried on shoulders to keep them from the water, but one of them inside some kind of perspex box so that it can shoot near and in the water) rush round, filming. Wet’n’Wild hasn’t been closed to the public today, and so plenty of curious holiday-makers in the water watch with curiosity. Soon, with all the splashing, Neil and Chris are more than a little wet and it doesn’t take long for them both to capsize. It looks terrific fun; this is clearly not going to be one of those videos where the Pet Shop Boys look moody and detached. When the song starts booming out from the pool side–Se a vida é is one of those happy songs that makes you feel sad—it tits the mood perfectly.

    (...)

    The sun is now beginning to set, and Bruce Weber wants to film the cast dancing. This includes the Pet Shop Boys. He tried to get them to dance for Being boring; he’s still trying. The cast are split up into pairs and have to twirl and cavort with each other as they move towards the camera, except that Neil and Chris remain true to their resolve and mostly just walk. “You’re so shy,” Chris’s partner observes. When they’ve done it three or four times Neil announces, “I think I’m going to get my sausages.”

    (...)

    And it is over.

    “That was great,” says Neil.

    “It was really enjoyable,” Chris agrees. As they get ready to leave, Bruce Weber describes the film been making around the old Hollywood actor Robert Mitchum. “He’s like the original bad boy.” Bruce Weber grabs Chris’s arm. “He’s even badder than you.”

    Chris shakes his head in resignation. “I’m not bad,” he says, with visible disappointment.

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A nother six years later Pet Shop Boys and Bruce Weber teamed up again to create the video for the second single off Release LP, I get along—this time in New York. The DVD single featured a slightly extended version of the video, with a bit of E-mail added at the end.

Literally 26 shines more light on this:

    “We looked at all these showreels of new directors and we weren’t really very impressed by any,” says Neil. So they asked Bruce Weber instead. “We like working with him,” says Neil, “and his style is somewhat timeless. And also we thought it would be good to do something American and glossy which would take away the Britpop overtones that I get along has musically, so that it would help to make you hear the song in a different way. I think we achieved that. The video makes the song seem more sad. It makes it seem less Beatle-y.”

    “It’s taking it away from the gritty North,” says Chris.

    Bruce Weber came up with the idea.

    “He said it was going to be a video of a photo shoot in Manhattan,” says Chris. “And that’s what it is.”

    “He said he was getting this great Russian model, Natalia, and she is gorgeous,” says Neil. “It was the normal Bruce Weber video thing where you went in and then you felt intimidated by the beauty of everyone in the room. And then they all turn out to be really friendly and nice.”

    “What’s really great about a Bruce Weber video shoot is that the first thing you do is have lunch,” says Chris.

    “Which was filmed, in this case,” points out Neil.

    “So it’s not like you’re not working,” Chris continues. “But you are eating some jolly food. And there’s a permanent buffet the entire time, so I just feasted all day. Salami, olives, salad... and then afternoon tea came.”

    “We got there at 11, and left by 6.30,” says Neil. “His shoots are always short.”

    As well as being filmed eating lunch and taking Polaroids, Neil and Chris were filmed as they were painted by an artist.

    “It was very relaxed, as usual,” says Chris. “He works with lots of cameras—something’s always being filmed, and there’s always a lot going on all over the place. The view through the window at the studio is where the Twin Towers would have been.”

    “It’s all about New York, the whole video,” says Neil. “You see the cardboard towers collapsing.”

    At the end of the video there is some further footage, set to a small extract of E-mail, which was also Bruce Weber’s idea. (This is the version on the DVD single only.) “It’s like an elegy for New York,” says Neil.

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Information about Bruce Weber.



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