The dreamy landscape of her “Fifteen” video had [artist id="2389485"]Taylor Swift[/artist] recalling her high school days, when she thought she was in love with that guy she was dating and she didn’t know what would become of her life. And when she worked on the Best Female Video-nominated clip last year with “You Belong With Me” director Roman White, he wanted to capture the essence of the song without getting too literal.
“Well, I think I really wanted this video to kind of be an evolution for Taylor,” White said. “I mean, obviously it’s a high school song, but the last thing I wanted to do was shoot it in a high school. So I wanted to try something different, and I actually said to her, ‘I don’t think we should shoot in a high school.’ And I don’t think she wanted to either.”
So how do you shoot a video about high school without actually staging it in a high school? “I kind of came up with this idea like, let’s take the literal meaning of this song and watch it evolve in front of us … almost as a memory in your head,” he said. “And create this world, so you walk in on this desolate desert and you start to sing about all these great memories you have … of everything you love [blooming] around you, and so we literally grew this garden around her.”
White decided to keep it a bit strange as well. “But also we added these surreal elements that came from the memory,” he said. “It’s kind of this cross between this surreal garden and this memory [and] she’s at the heart of this memory.”
About the only thing in the video that wasn’t created on a computer was Swift herself. “The rain was all digitally created. All the trees, all the flowers, everything was created by mouse, everything was created by computers,” he explained. “The trees, the leaves, the rain, everything, the clouds. We had prop pieces of the desks and stuff … so even things we had actual props of we re-created in 3-D [on the computer].”
The 27th annual MTV Video Music Awards will be broadcast live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 12, at 9 p.m. ET.