Andy Hines wasn’t going to let a broken ankle prevent him from filming a music video for Lizzo, featuring Missy Elliott.
The director from Avondale, N.S., says he tripped on a camera dolly track and broke his left ankle “quite badly” on set before cameras rolled in Atlanta for Lizzo’s buzzy new Tempo video, in which she and Elliott are performing in a diner parking lot crowded with twerking dancers and bouncing lowrider cars.
But he didn’t want to give up the chance to work with the two acclaimed rappers/singers/songwriters, so he kept going, hobbling and even crawling around the set until someone got him a crutch midway through the shoot five months ago.
“I wasn’t going to go to the hospital and have someone else direct Lizzo and Missy, so I had to just do my thing and just push through it,” the Los Angeles-based Hines said in a recent phone interview, noting the break also pinched a nerve and he actually couldn’t feel the pain.
“I flew back to L.A. the next morning and went straight to an orthopedic surgeon,” he said. “I could’ve just thrown the whole shoot away and said, ‘OK, I broke my ankle, sorry about that.’ But it’s not really an option, so you kind of just have to buckle up and get to work.”
Hines is a renowned music video director who has worked with a slew of mostly hip-hop and R&B artists. He got a Grammy nomination for 1-800-273-8255, written by Logic and featuring Khalid and Alessia Cara, and won an MTV Video Music Award for Big Sean’s One Man Can Change the World, featuring Kanye West and John Legend.
He came into Tempo after being asked to write a concept for it – one that would pass what he called “an in-depth clearance process” with Elliott.
“Missy has only worked with a couple of people for the last 20 years, like the same director, same cinematographer,” Hines said. “She doesn’t really work with a lot of new people, so I was very honoured, because that’s a life goal that, as a music video director, you don’t ever expect. And then to go get to do it with Lizzo was really cool.”
Elliott’s venerable career, of course, stretches back decades with hits including Get Ur Freak On and Work It. And Lizzo is a pop-culture smash these days with her breakthrough album, Cuz I Love You, her flute playing and her empowering body-positivity message.
“It’s a major career highlight to see the two of them together onscreen,” Hines said, noting each of them came to set “100 per cent ready to own it.”
“Missy is just an icon. It’s just amazing to see her in front of my monitor, standing in a parking lot in a city I’ve never filmed in before, thinking, ‘I’m from Nova Scotia. This is crazy.“’ Tempo is a visual feast as Lizzo struts in and around a vintage diner, wearing a dyed-blue fur cape, glittery blue bra top with matching bottoms, silver thigh-high boots and a red cowboy hat.
Elliott appears midway through, popping out of the hood of one of the many cars moving up and down on hydraulics.
At one point the backup dancers appear to be suspended in the air and bouncing in slow motion off of the cars, which Hines said was a nod to the “magical realism” that’s often in Elliott’s videos.
The entire video was Hines’ vision and was a “very physical” shoot, he said, which proved even more difficult with a broken ankle. It’s the same ankle he’d broken once before while downhill mountain biking.
This time the injury, which he pointed out was his fault, had swelled his ankle to the size of “a cantaloupe by halfway through the shoot.” He later learned he’d underestimated the extent of the fractures.
These days the ankle is on the mend and Hines is “really happy” with the project.
Lizzo even gave a shout-out to Hines’ home province in a pre-recorded video from the set he recently posted on his Instagram account, noting “Nova Scotians do it best.”
“Everybody always asks me where I’m from, because I usually show up a little different from what they expected, and then Nova Scotia becomes a talking point,” Hines said.
“I’m proud of where I’m from, I’m proud of the people that are back home in the arts and music, that are creating in the Maritimes. They’re a constant inspiration for me and my demographic is: I’m just trying to make people in Nova Scotia happy and proud.”
He’s also pushing “for more authentic realities” and constantly trying new things in his work, he said, noting he wants to stand up for the same types of social messages Lizzo represents.
“I’m a mid-30s Caucasian guy from Canada and I feel like in our current political atmosphere or in our current world where we live in North America maybe specifically, I look exactly like the type of person that should be standing up for the rights of people or inclusiveness,” Hines said.
“It has nothing to do with an agenda or anything. It has to do with me just being interested and empathetic to a lot of different scenarios and a lot of different people’s lives.”