Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” has unquestionably become one of the year’s most inescapable songs, so it’s rather fitting that when he was shooting the video, all he wanted to do was escape.
After all, the clip — which is up for a pair of moonmen at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year — was shot frame-by-frame over three very long days, with dabs of paint painstakingly placed over every inch of his and co-star Kimbra’s bodies. Oh, and they were basically naked the whole time. In fact, as director Natasha Pincus told MTV News, it’s sort of a miracle the thing got finished at all.
“It was physically challenging — the shoot was an endurance sport in itself — and also emotionally difficult,” Pincus said. “Every second of screen time that featured stop motion involved 12 separate set ups. We would paint a dab of paint on a body, then step away, clear set, then we would set Gotye or Kimbra to be in line with the image taken previously, then they’d hold their breath as we took two photographs, then we’d do another dab of paint.
“Then we’d repeat the whole process. And we’d have to do it twelve times per each second of film,” she continued. “We did this thousands of times in total. From memory, Gotye’s painting and stop motion took about 6 hours to film, and Kimbra’s took maybe 8 hours. In all, that day took 26 hours to film.”
Still, Pincus said that Gotye was in good spirits throughout the shoot (“He was giving out neck rubs at one point,” she said) and didn’t mind the occasional — and inevitable — bit of accidental nudity. All in a day’s work, it would seem.
“He’s a very natural, relaxed person so we never felt awkward about anything to do with his nudity,” Pincus said. “We originally filmed him wearing cut and taped [underwear] that were carefully positioned … still, there were often wardrobe mishaps during a take, but he was so very cool about it.”
And the end result of all that hard work was a video that has become nearly as iconic as the song itself … and earned both Pincus and Gotye their first taste of stateside success. And needless to say, that’s taken some getting used to.
“There have just been so many surreal, monumental moments with this video’s journey; 310 million views, all the amazing parodies, friends and family reporting their own bizarre encounters seeing the video played in obscure offbeat international locations…it is hard to fathom,” Pincus said. “I can never quite believe it is happening. But being nominated for the VMA Video of the Year really takes the cake. MTV has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, so to now be in some way a part of it is an absolute honor of immeasurable proportions.”