He's already cleaned out his closet, dissed his mom and ex-wife on record and laid his life story out for everyone to see in "8 Mile." The only thing left for Eminem to reveal were his home movies, which he does in the "Mockingbird" video, one of the most personal views we've ever gotten into the life of a rapper — or any popular music star.
"The idea was originally Em's," said Quig, the clip's co-director, of the home-movie treatment for the song that laments missing out on so much of his daughter's life. "He came to me with the idea, and we talked about how he imagined it in his head. He wanted the images to match exactly what his words were speaking."
Em approached Quig a few days after Christmas with a somewhat overwhelming 25 hours worth of VHS footage that he'd borrowed from family members and had shot himself over the past few years. "I worked around the clock through the holiday week, including New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, to get the first edit done," said Quig, who runs Detroit's Chrome Bumper Films. The rapper trusted Quig, who says he's worked with Em in some capacity on nearly all of his videos, to handle the sensitive tape and edit it down to a manageable length.
Most of the clips focus on Em's niece, Laney, and daughter, Hailie, who appears in several shots with her mother, the rapper's ex, Kim Mathers. (The faces of both children were blurred out in the most recent footage to help protect their privacy.)
We see Hailie celebrating her second birthday, playing with Kim in the backyard and opening Christmas presents, some of which only appear to be from her dead-broke, not-yet-famous dad, as alluded to in the song. We also see Em watching the footage by himself in what seems to be the screening room of his Detroit mansion.
"Having the home movies was cool on its own, but I had thrown in a few examples of how I saw him being intercut throughout the video," Quig explained. "I needed something to sew it together, so I cut in [sample] footage from TV and movies that showed a person watching a projector. This was the best way to show him what I meant, and he totally got it. The funny part is that Em had the same idea."
Quig said that the pair unintentionally came up with a new way of making videos: Edit in existing footage to match the narrative, then shoot only what you need to fill in each section. "It's like a live storyboard put to music," he said.
The only glitch, though, was that Em's label wanted the pair to also shoot some footage of him rapping along to the track, either seated in the screening room or on the streets of Detroit.
"It would have looked corny," Quig said. "What was he going to do, be in the chair singing the song? So we showed them how it looked, and they agreed."
While Em was willing to reveal a lot of himself — even paging through a real photo album that Hailie made for him as a gift — exposing the world to his actual home was not part of the equation. "We rented a house and designed it according to our vision," Quig said.
"The idea was to create a mood of aloneness. Here is a man that has reached every height possible as a singer/performer. The room was to display his storybook life — awards, trophies, gold records ... [his] wealth and fortune. Here Em is looking back on moments when he potentially wasn't present, due to his love of hip-hop and hardworking values to create something for his daughter Hailie's future."
After a headline about Kim Mathers' release from prison on drug charges flashes onscreen, the video has footage of Hailie greeting her mother at the door. Though Quig was not at liberty to discuss who supplied and signed off on all the footage, he said that everyone and everything shown in the video had to be cleared.
For an artist who has tried hard to walk the fine line between exposing everything about himself and keeping his home life off camera, Quig said he thought Em achieved exactly what he wanted to with "Mockingbird."
"Marshall is huge in the visual department," he said. "The amount of detail he sees and how things [transition] from one scene to the next ... he could be a director on a regular basis. He really sees the whole picture, no matter what he's working on."