The young director who shot Eminem’s recent visuals for “Godzilla” tells the story behind the video, how he came up with the idea to bring Mike Tyson to the plot and what was Eminem like on set.
For 16 odd minutes, Cole Bennett just sitting on his sofa talking animatedly about the video for the most popular track from Eminem’s latest album “Music To Be Murdered By”. We learned that it was Marshall’s idea to hire him and that was his way to establish a link to Juice WRLD, who did not live long enough to see it happening.
I almost couldn’t believe it. It was pretty crazy for a moment not only because it was Eminem but because I knew what that meant to Juice. Eminem was one of Juice’s favourite artists growing up and he always talked about him. I just understood the impact that Eminem had had on Juice. This was kind of coming full circle and the opportunity for me to be able to do the video was a good way for me to pay proper homage to Juice.
Bennett had a long conversation with Eminem’s manager Paul Rosenberg and after that conversation, he wrote eight pages explaining his vision and what he is going to shoot. He wanted to acknowledge Eminem’s contribution to hip-hop because Eminem already had so many iconic videos, but at the same time he wanted to make it feel like another Lyrical Lemonade video, wanted to pull every aspect of Eminem in there but did not want to try make an old classic, he wanted it to be new and fresh.
I finished the treatment – there was no pictures, no reference photos, nothing. It was just all words. There was like seven or eight pages, it was like an essay. I just opened piece by piece and I kind of broke it down and how I wanted to do it and what reference to what and I sent it back to Paul and just kind of waited a few days. You know, an artist of that stature, they’re gonna be very particular about how things are done and how they want to look. I was kind of nervous for a little bit and then I got a call back.
Eminem had read all his eight pages and was down with fun. He did not want to change anything only requested to add two things: his mouth falling off and fire coming out of his mouth, which Cole incorporated in the plot beautifully.
However, Bennett also had his own ideas how to capture the audience:
I remember while I was writing the video I was like, “I need something outlandish. I need something to catch you by surprise. I need something to pull you out of it and then right back into it at the same time”. And I was like, “He has to get knocked out by Mike Tyson!”. He had made a reference to being knocked out by Mike Tyson on one of his super old albums so I thought it was perfect. He loved the idea. I knew someone who knew Mike Tyson so I thought it was possible to get a hold of him at least and I knew if we got the treatment to him he was gonna agree to it. And we got it to him, he was down for it.
Bennett has worked with multiple rappers of a new generation and for him to work with the star of Marshall’s calibre was different but at the same time very similar to what he usually does. Because of that incredible Marshall’s work ethics and humility:
It was really cool to work with Eminem because he was there to work. You know, someone of that size you’d expect to maybe just go through the motions or even be a little lazy or feel entitled because of everything they’ve accomplished so far in their career, especially working with someone as young as myself. And he’s done everything at the highest level. So for him to work with me and me being so young and for him to respect me and be ready to work, it was just very respectable. And he was ready the whole time. He’s ready to go whenever I said: “Get ready for the next shot”. He was up and ready to go and he was down for fun last-minute twist on things and he was just cool with everything. But one of my favourite parts about working with Em was that he really respected Juice and everything Juice had done. He had made that very clear that he admired his work, he loved his freestyles, he loved just his approach in all his different sounds and how versatile he was and it was really special to be able to work with him knowing that he really cared about Juice.
Bennett also confirmed references recognised by fans already and pointed out to some that were not possible to read. For example, the reference to Marshall’s birthday.
There was lots of references throughout the video that I wanted to include and tie in subliminal and if you caught it – you caught it. One of which was in the second verse. It’s a one-take and he says “Wonder if it would be like this tomorrow” and he looks into the calendar. It’s hard to see because we didn’t catch the focus perfectly but if you really pay attention you can probably catch it. It says on October 16th “Wonder if it would be like this tomorrow” and then on October 17th it says “YES”. On October 17th is his birthday. Just like a fun little twist that I wanted to see if people could catch.
Apparently, Bennett did not expect to have Dr. Dre on set that happened last moment and Cole made the most of it, knowing that the shot with Eminem, Dr, Dre and Tyson together would be iconic.
Watch Cole Bennett telling the story behind the “Godzilla” music video: