“She was game for anything. We’d say to her ‘Alright what about tarantulas?‘ and she’d perk up, say ‘Hey I can put one on my face!’” Hall laughed. “The vine swinging, getting up there in the trees, standing on top of a water fall, there was no hesitation.”
“It was amazing, she jumped at the opportunities and loved it,” Kudsi added. “It was great; after the first time we threw out some ideas to her, we got a sense she was game and we tried to up it, and there wasn’t one thing she said ‘No’ to.”
And for the directors, both members of the Motion Theory collective, that made “Roar” extra challenging … they knew their star was willing to push the boundaries, which meant they had to go as big as possible. Beginning with the video’s singular concept.
“It was simple; we started with the idea of ‘Katy Perry: Queen of the Jungle,’ and that just lit a fire,” Hall said. “From that first sentence everyone was like ‘Of course!’ And then we went from there, thinking of things like ‘What’s the biggest way to roar? We started using words like ‘Glamazon.’ We sort of invented our own language for it.”
“We jumped in to older pulp-type movies, like ‘Sheena, Queen of the Jungle,’ Bettie Page pinups, but at the same time, we really wanted to put a ‘Katy’ spin on it,” Kudsi explained. “If she was stuck in the Amazon, how would she survive? We set out to be very ambitious and make it as big as possible … How can we make sure this wasn’t anybody doing this video, it was Katy. When you have the #1 song in the country, you want to own it.”
So they set to work creating a world for Katy to rule. “Roar” was shot over three very long days at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia, complete with a fake plane-crash scene, waterfalls, of course, plenty of animals — “We were basically trying to fit an entire ‘Tarzan’ serial into four minutes,” Hall said. And as if all of that wasn’t challenging enough, well, there were the tigers prowling the set.
“Basically, there are animal trainers on set, and they give a ‘tiger safety meeting’ where, they say ‘Don’t hide behind anything, because the tiger will think you’re hunting it and it will attack you,’” Hall laughed. “And they say ‘If it gets loose stand still,’ and we were all standing there like, ‘Um …’”
Still, all that hard work (and danger) was ultimately worth it, and now that “Roar” has premiered, they can look back on the experience and laugh … after all, they matched Katy’s “go for broke” mantra, went wild in the jungle, and lived to tell about it.
“We felt like we had something special, and, though it was a lot of long nights and a lot of hard work, everybody pushed it hard and came away with something that we can share with Katy and her fans,” Kudsi said. “And as a creative person, that’s the best you can hope for.”