Yahoo Music

Video Launched the Cinema Star: The Top 8 Music Video Directors to Hit the Silver Screen

Lyndsey Parker
Yahoo Music

View photo

.

Director Francis Lawrence (far right) with the 'Hunger Games' cast [photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP]

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire comes out this week, as we're sure anyone with access to the Interweb (i.e., anyone reading this) is well aware. But are you aware that the movie's director, Francis Lawrence (no relation to Jennifer), was behind some of the biggest music videos of the past decade and a half?

Lawrence made his silver-screen directorial debut in 2005 with the big-budget blockbuster Constantine, but he has lensed dozens of big-budget videos for blockbuster pop stars throughout the 1990s and 2000s — including iconic clips for Britney Spears ("I'm a Slave 4 U"), Gwen Stefani ("What You Waiting For?"), Jennifer Lopez ("Jenny From the Block"), Lady Gaga ("Bad Romance"!!!), and Beyoncé ("Run the World"). With such a long history of filming famous ladies, who better than Lawrence to focus the camera on America's current sweetheart, J.Law?

Francis Lawrence isn't the only director to make the leap from MTV to motion pictures. Here are the other biggies whose careers caught fire, so to speak, when they moved to the multiplex.

David Fincher

Any struggling music video director or movie director no doubt aspires to one day have a career like David Fincher's. Box office buffs definitely know Fincher from his impressive filmography (Seven, Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), but the man's dark, sometimes creepy aesthetic can be traced back to his work on some of the most memorable videos of the classic MTV age: Madonna's Metropolis-inspired "Express Yourself," starkly glamorous "Vogue," and child-abuse lament "Oh Father"; Don Henley's noirish and nostalgic "The End of the Innocence"; George Michael's supermodel-haunted "Freedom '90"; the Rolling Stones' monsters-take-Manhattan "Love is Strong"; and Aerosmith's "Janie's Got a Gun," which actually looked like one giant crime-scene outtake from Seven. Fincher still directs videos from time to time, coming out of semi-retirement this year to direct "Suit and Tie" by Social Network star Justin Timberlake.

Spike Jonze

The wonderfully warped genius that Jonze brought to unforgettable '90s videos like Weezer's "Buddy Holly," the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage," Bjork's "It's Oh So Quiet," Daft Punk's "Da Funk," and Fatboy Slim's "Praise You" translated brilliantly to cinema with such classics of quirk as Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Where the Wild Things Are. Luckily, Jonze hasn't abandoned music entirely; just this month, he directed Arcade Fire's stunning "Afterlife" performance at the first annual YouTube Music Awards.

Michel Gondry

It is not hyperbole to say that Michel Gondry is responsible for some of the greatest music videos of all time. We dare you to watch the White Stripes' Lego epic "Fell in Love With a Girl," the Foo Fighters' dream-weaver "Everlong," Daft Punk's modern-day Busby Berkeley musical "Around the World," Cibo Matto's one-take-wonder "Sugar Water," or anything Gondry ever shot for Bjork, and argue otherwise. Gondry applied his artistic eye with fabulous results to indie hits like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep, and Be Kind Rewind, though his work on the less critically successful superhero flick The Green Hornet indicated that Daft Punk videos are more his thing.

Russell Mulcahy

No one would have "wanted their MTV" back in the '80s without Russell Mulcahy. He directed TEN of Duran Duran's game-changing early videos (including "Planet Earth," "Hungry Like the Wolf," "Rio," "Save a Prayer," and "Is There Something I Should Know?") as well as the '80s epic to end all '80s epics, Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart." But turn around, bright eyes — Mulcahy made movies, too! Come on, what would '80s cinema be without Highlander? And Highlander II: The Quickening? Mulcahy was also the man behind such cult classics as Razorback, Resident Evil: Extinction, and The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior.

F. Gary Gray

Gray got his start as one of hip-hop's go-to video directors, lensing video for the likes of Ice Cube, Cypress Hill, OutKast, and Dr. Dre; his biggest video hit was TLC's "Waterfalls," which won five moonmen at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year. Soon Gray was one of hip-hop's go-to movie directors, with 1995's Friday and 1996's Set It Off. His other notable films include The Italian Job and Be Cool.

Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris

This husband-and-wife team was responsible for some truly amazing works of '90s MTV eye-candy, like Soundgarden's "Outshined," Korn's "Freak on a Leash," six Red Hot Chili Peppers videos, and the VMAs-sweeping "Tonight, Tonight" by Smashing Pumpkins. And don't forget "More Than Words" by Extreme, of course! Like Jonze and Gondry before them, Dayton and Faris easily transitioned to the indie film scene with 2006's breakout Little Miss Sunshine and last year's Ruby Sparks.

Antoine Fuqua

Fuqua has directed videos for Prince, Coolio, Usher, Toni Braxton, Stevie Wonder, and Lil Wayne…but nowadays he's probably best known for directing Training Day, which won Denzel Washington a Best Actor Oscar in 2002.

Honorable mentions:

Mark Romanek (from Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" to the Robin Williams thriller One Hour Photo)

Floria Sigismondi (from Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People" to the rock biopic The Runaways)

Jonathan Glazer (from Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity" and Radiohead's "Karma Police" to Sexy Beast)

Anton Corbijn (from numerous classic Depeche Mode clips to the Joy Division movie Control)

Michael Bay (from Meat Loaf's "I'd Do Anything For Love" to Bad Boys and Armageddon)

Related links:

Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Amazon, Tumblr

View Comments