On this episode of The Paul Weller Fan Podcast, we hear from filmmaker, Steve Barron – the man behind the music promo videos for The Jam‘s Strange Town, When You’re Young, Going Underground and Dreams of Children…
We’ll hear how Steve started in films as a camera assistant / tea-boy on epic productions such as Richard Donner’s Superman, Richard Attenborough’s A Bridge Too Far and Ridley Scott’s The Duellists.
You’ll hear the story of how a disastrous venture filming Reading Festival in 1978 led to working with The Jam on four music promo videos.
It’s important to remember that this was a time pre-MTV.
Top of the Pops ruled in the UK, with their preference for as-live performances, rather than films, and so getting these seen music videos seen was pretty hard at the time.
His work with The Jam, Human League, and Adam & the Ants helped to inspire the formation of MTV and Steve went on to create seminal films that became some of the most-watched music videos of all time. We’re talking “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson, “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits and “Take On Me” by A-ha as examples.
These films defined the medium during the early days of MTV and are still considered among the best of all time. The videos for “Take On Me” and “Billie Jean” have each garnered over 1 billion views on YouTube.
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EP140 – Steve Barron – Filmmaker – The Jam Music Promos & more… – Paul Weller Fan Podcast : Desperately Seeking Paul
Steve’s debut feature film was the music-led romantic comedy Electric Dreams starring Virginia Madsen which was released worldwide in 1984.
In 1987 his foray into network television won an Emmy for Hans My Hedgehog – the ‘Jim Henson – Storyteller’ pilot for NBC.
In 1990, Steve’s second movie stunned the movie industry by becoming the first independent feature to break the 100 million-dollar theatrical barrier in the U.S. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles grossed over $350m worldwide. A Grammy nomination followed for Dire Straits‘ Calling Elvis and the Billboard Best Director award for Natalie Cole’s ‘Unforgettable’ duet with her father, which reached No.1 across the world, selling over 12 million albums on the way.
Steve has gone on to have massive success as a director and producer of film and TV series including the Dan Ackroyd feature Coneheads (1993), The Adventures of Pinocchio (1996) and Mike Bassett: England Manager (2001).
He was Executive Producer on the Sylvester Stallone & Sharon Stone movie The Specialist, and on the hugely successful While You Were Sleeping starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman.
In 1998, Steve directed Merlin, a massive two part mini-series for NBC in America. The two-parter starred Sam Neill, Helena Bonham-Carter, Miranda Richardson, Isabella Rossellini, Martin Short, Alan Bates, Sir John Geilguid and Rutger Hauer. The original television broadcast in the United States achieved record audiences of an estimated 70 million, with the show going on to be nominated for 15 Emmy’s, 4 Golden Globes and a DGA nod for outstanding Directing.