Snap Shot #62– Michael and Me

MH

I’m tempted by one of those rare opportunities that’s occasionally offered to students of Australia’s Film and TV School – but I’m conflicted. I have the chance to do a day’s attachment on an INXS film clip. Problem is – I hate INXS – especially their poser of a front man. Although I begrudgingly admit to liking a couple of their songs, as a whole I’m dismissive of their try hard efforts. But… the clip is being directed by Richard Lowenstein – arguably the most ingenious clip director of the era. So I decide to shelve my distaste for Michael Hutchence and his band of rock and roll wannabes and head off to the set. The only people vaguely interested in me are the camera crew. “Great. Glad you’re here. You can load and unload camera rolls. The black bags are over here.” My heart sinks. “Ah – sure…” The camera assistant picks up on my reticence. “Uh – you are a camera student, right?” “No. I’m a production student. But I’ve loaded before. A while a go…” Frustrated that somebody sent the wrong sort of film school student, the camera assistant wisely decides to steer me away from the precious film canisters and over to the clip’s producer. She too seems annoyed by my presence but decides I might at least have some use as a runner. So I’m sent on a mission to buy super shampoo for some especially temperamental hair follicles. I return in time to see this amazingly good looking and charismatic curly haired dude walking around set, joking with the crew. I do a double take – is that Michael Hutchence? No… he’s not that handsome – is he? Where are the acne scars? Either banished or under a pancake of make-up. The crew are ready for a take. Richard Lowenstein – himself a decent looking guy with a fine head of hair – gives the singer a couple of directions. The playback operator flicks a switch and this super catchy song starts blaring out from the speakers. Hang on – is this really an INXS track? It sounds fantastic! The cool dude starts slinking towards the camera. I have a look at the TV monitor and lo and behold – there’s Michael Hutchence! How bizarre – turns out he’s not all that photogenic. Much better in the flesh. After a few more takes, Lowenstein does something I’ve never seen a director do. He turns to his crew and asks “Anybody got any ideas?” I don’t – which is just as well as I’m too terrified to speak up. But someone else has no such reservation. “Hey – why don’t we give Michael the rat?” The rodent in question turns out to be Michael’s brother’s and is soon sitting on the singer’s shoulders as he croons “I need you tonight…” In between takes I muster up the gumption to approach Michael. “Hi. Great song.” “Thanks. Glad you like it.” “Hey – my teenage sister is a huge fan. Would you mind signing something for her?” “Sure.” He grabs a film can label. “What’s her name?” “Kirsten.” “What’s she into?” I’m a bit thrown by the question. “Uh – you. And basketball.” Not finding this information overly helpful, he nonetheless manages to write a short but sweet little dedication and signs it. I thank him, not knowing that my sister will later embellish my involvement with her idol by promoting me to director of the clip. Given that it goes on to win the MTV music video of the year and catapults the band into the stratosphere, it’s an embellished achievement I’m quite proud of. As for the reality of just being a shampoo fetching runner, it’s a transitional experience – turning me from an INXS hater into a full on fan – one who mourned the passing of that charismatic curly haired dude a decade later.

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