When Justin Timberlake tires of being one-fifth of the world's premiere pop group, he might find a successful career in infomercials, if his role in 'NSYNC's "Pop" video is any indication.
As a TV pitchman, the cropped-top Timberlake invites a girl bored with real life to a Wonderland-like dance club, where much of the clip is set. Throughout the surreal excursion, each of the 'NSYNC members appear in extravagant scenarios representing pop fads and fashions as actual art.
"It's the biggest thing I've ever worked on," said Wayne Isham, who's helmed some 150 videos since 1983, including 'NSYNC's "Bye Bye Bye" and "It's Gonna Be Me," from No Strings Attached.
"That's what the guys wanted," Isham said. "They wanted something with size, scope, scale and fun."
After getting a rudimentary idea for the treatment from the band in New Orleans, where they were rehearsing for the tour to support their third album, Celebrity, 'NSYNC's wishes were Isham's command.
On the heels of completing the video for 98°'s "The Way You Want Me To," the director and his A Band Apart production company crew assembled three sets at Los Angeles' Sony Studios: a reality set, where the opening scene would be shot; the multi-tiered fantasy club set; and the green screen, which allows the group to appear in the many computer-generated sequences. Filming was scheduled for only three days, May 13 to 15, on the same lot where another fantastic journey, "The Wizard of Oz," was shot more than 60 years ago.
Production of the massive undertaking needed to take place almost simultaneously, to take advantage of the limited time 'NSYNC's stuffed schedule permitted for the clip. With the time constraint as his only admitted snag, Isham met the challenge with grand aplomb.
"I couldn't wait to get the guys on the set to see their faces when they climbed up this 40-foot ramp of neon, up to this 35-foot-high sculpted stage that they're on top of," he said. "Some of the dancers we had to safety-wire to the ceiling so they wouldn't fall off."
Having worked with Isham before, the group knew it was in for a grueling experience, complete with 12-hour days and Isham sometimes sleeping right on set. Hence, the quintet derived the motto: "No Wayne, no pain."
For Joey Fatone, the saying was a bit too literal for his liking. A few days prior to filming, Fatone injured his leg in tour rehearsal (see "'NSYNC Tour Secrets: Multiple Stages, Red Carpet And More") and showed up at the set on crutches. Although a lookalike was used for some shots, Fatone toughed it out and did as much as he could, despite his painful injury.
"It was initially a potential problem," Isham said, "but he rose to the occasion. When he saw the energy and got up there on top of the stage, he just went for it. You could see that it hurt [his leg] was cut up, stitched, [and] he potentially could have done some damage. But that's one of the reasons why I dig these guys. People don't realize the discipline and work that these guys do."