"Leave Me Alone" (1989)
"For most directors, when they were done shooting the live action, they were kind of done," says Jim Blashfield, who directed "Leave Me Alone." "We had just begun." Blashfield’s "absurd process" for the clip meant a three-day shoot with Jackson, followed by a nine-month animating trek. Commissioned to do a video on "Michael’s idiosyncrasies," Blashfield and his team of animators shot Jackson on 35mm film, had those images turned into stills, then cut figures out with X-Acto knives and layered them by the dozens. The playful, self-aware results sent Jackson through a fun house of tabloid rumors that added another level to the song’s anti-media anger.
Jim Blashfield, director: Michael was really very open to this idea. The fact that he would think it would be OK to represent his plastic surgey, with the nose and the scalpel, it was just pretty great. I heard through the grapevine Michael’s mother didn’t like that particular image that much. Bubbles was not a problem. Bubbles, your job here is to crawl all over the rocket ship as it slowly rotates on this thing that you use to shoot car ads. Bubbles, please crawl over from here to here. And then please do not harm the python.
Michael was always up and ready to go, good-spirited. He was mostly in one set of clothes. It was an easy shoot for Michael. His hair didn’t catch on fire or anything.
If you wanna know how come it took nine months, we’re down on an animal preserve photographing llamas and peacocks. And then we’re off at Oak’s Park, the local amusement park, photographing things there. We’re out photographing skies. Some skies are better then others.
Each and every bit of it is made up of still images that are all stacked on top of one another on a piece of glass. Look in any one scene and look how many different things there are going on, so each one of those had to have its own shoot. There’s a splash that shows up throughout the entire video, and that was so time consuming to cut out that we just had one and it was passed around. Whoever was doing the scene and needed the splash would get to use it for a while. There was a guy, he specialized in that splash, and I think he worked on it for weeks. He also was responsible for hair. So he looked like somebody out of Dickens. He sat on this tall stool kind of hunched over, with these odd glasses that jewelers or somebody wears. Just cutting one 32nd of an inch after another.