LOS ANGELES — Miley Cyrus’ Flowers track has set a number of records since its release in January. In addition to becoming the fastest song to surpass a billion streams on Spotify, the song has reached #1 in 40 countries, including the United States.
Flowers is the lead single off of her eighth studio album, “Endless Summer Vacation.” The music video for the track was directed by Jacob Bixenman and produced by Freenjoy, with Marcell Rev serving as director of photography. Brendan Walter edited the project and says the edit came together rather quickly because the production’s shot list was so well planned.
“We worked pretty closely from the very beginning of the concept,” says Walter of the production. “I was on all the scouts and all the [meetings], and we filmed basically the entire music video on the phone before we even got to that stage — pre-edited the entire thing so we knew exactly what it should be on the day.”
Walter is an independent editor, who has worked on music videos for the likes of Green Day and Weezer. He regularly works with Miley Cyrus’ management company, which is how he came on board for the Flowers video.
The song’s message encourages self-love, and the video features Miley spending her day at her LA mansion, swimming, working out, dancing and enjoying life without the need of a love interest.
“There was a kind of an initial treatment,” says Walter of the storyline, “kind of a broader story for this character, and this kind of concept. It was kind of a really natural evolution of how to build the shot lists and all that to make the edit work.”
The project was shot on 35mm film, and only what was planned was captured.
“It’s super linear,” Walter says of the storyline’s progression. We had it exactly mapped out to the shot, so what we got on the day was what we knew we wanted. Obviously, there’s fun, little, happy accidents…but, for the most part, we knew exactly what part of the song was going to be what section and how much footage we needed.”
The video is presented in an extremely wide aspect ratio, with black bars added in post. Walter cut the project in Adobe Premiere, running on a Mac, at a lower resolution and then ultimately delivered a 4K version.
“It was pretty quick, honestly,” he recalls of the edit. “Since we knew what it was, it didn’t really take very long because we did it all beforehand…We got the footage fairly quick…I don’t think it took a week, really…Miley knew exactly what we were up against, what we were doing and what we shot…I think when you’re shooting film, you sort of have such a different kind of mentality on-set, where you are like, ‘Cool, a couple takes. We got it!’ You really didn’t shoot more than we needed.”
Most of the video’s look was captured in-camera, rather than relying on visual effects.
“Our production designers and everybody were pretty on it, because we knew we didn’t want to do a lot of that stuff,” says Walter. “We wanted it to feel pretty natural.”
Walter performed light color grading: “Pretty ‘Rec. 709’ kind of classic, standard stuff.”
Colorist Tom Poole at Company 3 gave it its final grade.
“[He] did a really good job,” says Walter of the final look. “He’s kind of the guy who does all of DP [Marcell Rev’s] work as well. So. We had a good rapport creating a look.”
Walter says he sent updates to Miley and her team as the edit progressed.
“She’s really creative and knows what she wants,” he explains. “And Jacob, who’s the director, is also her creative director, so it was a pretty smooth process.”