Jon M. Chu Talks "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Director's Fan Cut," Playlist, and Why Fans Rule
Tue, 22 Feb 2011 15:47:25
Director Jon M. Chu never stops.
"We have 40 minutes of new footage in Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Director’s Fan Cut. It's pretty crazy. I should be celebrating and having fun with the release of the movie Friday, but we're working in this office," chuckles Chu.
The filmmaker's remix of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never hits theaters February 25, and it's bound to spread Bieber fever even further across the globe. In fact, the film brings viewers closer to Justin than ever as Chu shows intimate home footage, scenes of fans from opening day, and so much more. Chu goes deeper into the story, emphasizing how important the fans are to this phenomenon and, in turn, illuminating how much love Justin gives them. He shines light on age old formula: fans make artists who they are. Chu understands it. Bieber understands it. That fundamental principal could save the music industry, and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Director’s Fan Cut touts that philosophy…
Jon M. Chu sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Director’s Fan Cut, the importance of fan support, what separates Justin Bieber, and who's on his playlist.
Was there one common thread throughout the 40 minutes of new footage or does it all support different facets of the story?
It's a bunch of different stuff. For our original version, we had a cut that was like two-and-a-half hours long. We were like, "We can't release a movie that long!" So we started cutting and really focusing on our story. All of this extra material that was a bit leftfield of the story was always just hanging around though. As we got closer to the release of the movie, we got a lot of feedback from fans and people who'd seen previews about what they'd want to see more of. That feedback fit perfectly with the things we'd cut out. Also, as we got closer to release, we began discussing digital cinemas that we were in and how we were screening in so many digital places. The idea came up: what if you could actually change things in the middle of your release? That got us all really thinking. We have all of this stuff that the fans clearly want. The original movie was made for everybody not just for fans—whether you or knew a lot about him or you didn't. Now that people have seen the movie, we felt like we had an opportunity to show all that extra stuff. We include more of his friends, what it's like to be friends with Justin Bieber and have fans camping outside of your house and calling you in the middle of the night [Laughs]. We see more footage of young Justin from his mom's video camera. We get more songs. The best part is we've got fans on the film's opening weekend. We shot a bunch of theaters all over the country and we include them in the movie.
You've remixed the movie the way Bieber remixed his songs…
[Laughs] We definitely took a page from the Justin Bieber playbook of using technology to bring you closer to your audience. It's not separating you; it's actually bringing you closer. We're using technology to our advantage and we can turn things around really quickly. Credit to Paramount for being rebellious enough to say, "Hell yeah, we can do this!"
Is it exciting for you to give this project another face?
It's awesome! The main thing we've said is we don't want to rip kids off. We have to put enough in there that changes this movie. 40 minutes of footage came from the idea that these kids have to work an extra hour at their jobs to come see this movie again and we never want this to feel like we're cheating them. We want this to be genuine and real. We knew they'd want to see all this footage on the big screen and just on DVD in the context of special features. Once we realized we could pull this off, the hard part was making it into a piece that you could sit and watch. It ended up being really fun to do. You watched the movie two weeks ago, and now you're in the movie. That's insane. We have an old poster that says, "His story is yours," and that was our motto as we were making The Director's Fan Cut Edition. The fans are part of the story in the movie, and now they're a part of the story continuing the movie.
When you think of the film, which songs come to mind?
It's funny because I didn't know a lot of his songs going into it. As I was learning about his life, a lot of the songs would pop up in my head. Then, we'd usually use that song for that particular part of his life in the movie. "Never Say Never" is obviously our main song of the movie. I love "Baby" when they're giving away tickets. To me, that's the heart of this movie. Then there's the scene when he brings the girl up during "One Less Lonely Girl." Those songs communicate what this movie's really about. It's about technology bringing people together. It's about young kids having technology and bringing their passions together through it.
What separates Justin Bieber at the end of the day?
The most impressive thing that I found about his world was how genuinely connected he is with his fans. When he does Twitter, he talks with his fans not at them. When he sees them at radio stations, he knows a lot of them by name. He interacts with them, even more so than the cameras. He is fan-driven. He understands that. He doesn't take them for granted, and they will continue to push him forward. I specifically saw it when he got sick. A lot of people were Tweeting, "Get well." It actually made it feel better. That's when I realized, "Oh shit, these fans are a character in this movie more than I even thought they were." They're not just a passive character in this movie. They're an interactive character. They're going to be the ones that carry it on to the future. That's why we actually have the fans in the new version at the end, because they will carry to the torch. They'll watch the movie and continue the narrative forward. I don't even know if that was possible before without Twitter and Facebook and Justin understands it with every piece of himself.
Who's on your playlist right now?
I obviously have Justin Bieber all over my playlist [Laughs]. Those songs still make me feel good. I like my Mumford & Sons. I love old school Motown and Stevie Wonder. Obviously, I love the new Michael Jackson stuff. My guilty pleasure is Glee!
Will you be seeing Never Say Never today?
Read our first exclusive interview with director Jon M. Chu here!
Check out our reaction to Never Say Never here!
Ask Justin Bieber a question here!
Watch our exclusive video of Justin Bieber talking about his Beats by Dr. Dre. headphones here!
Watch a clip from the film here!
Will you be seeing Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Director’s Fan Cut when it hits theaters Friday February 25?
Check out our review of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never here!