I’m of the firm belief that a lot of the pop culture nonsense we have today can likely trace its path back to the 80’s. Comedy singing duo Ben & Jensen probably agree. After their successful video Back in the 90’s, they decided to take it back to what even a nineties kid like me can probably admit is one of the greatest decades of the century. Back to the 80’s, which released today, endeavors to fit ten years of insanity into five minutes of video.
Again, I’m a 90’s kid. I grew up in the wake of the 80’s which paved the way for nerds to inherit the earth. Some of the best coming of age movies (The Breakfast Club, Karate Kid) were born out of the neon doused decade, along with pinnacle science-fiction films (Back to the Future, anyone?), and fashion trends that love to make a comeback.
Back to the 80’s touches on all of these and more as it takes everyone on a trip back to a wild, wild decade with big hair and chunky sweaters. How Ben & Jensen managed to work ten years of style and pop culture references into their video, we may never know.
What we do know is a little bit about the process behind all the set and outfit changes that had to take place in order to make the video a reality!
After our celebratory ‘90s music video “Back to the 90s” went viral in 2017 — amassing 95 million views, charting at #11 on Billboard, and landing us in Las Vegas with the Backstreet Boys — we received thousands of requests from all over the world to create a sequel project about the ‘80s. That project also solidified our burgeoning hip-hop comedy partnership as Ben & Jensen (actor/director Ben Giroux and songwriter/artist Jensen Reed).
These rapid-fire nostalgia projects are always ambitious, but we wanted to try and create the most insane independent music video that’s ever been made. To do that, it first starts with the music. Like our ‘90s project, we decided to cram multiple genres of ‘80s music into a single track. Initially, we spent months working on a catchy glam rock chorus — juxtaposed with hip-hop verses, a “Tears for Fears”-inspired synth bridge, a Kenny G-esque sax breakdown, and even an anthemic stomp clap. Our lyrics were written to showcase hundreds of pop culture ‘80s references. The track was also a phenomenal co-write collaboration which included songwriter/artists Dirty Hollywood, Payson Lewis, and Scott Simons.
We’d written ourselves into quite a production dilemma: was it even possible to film a music video where every HALF of every line was a different setup? Our production team at Small Red Cape set out to do just that. “Back to the 80s” was filmed in seven grueling production days over a six month span. For each shoot, we meticulously attempted to authentically recreate iconic visuals with our team — practically (we used almost no green screen or CGI).
Producer Scott Thomas Reynolds was brilliant in finding malleable (and affordable) filming locations to accommodate multiple custom sets. Director of Photography John Gardiner and Production Designer Lindsey Ferguson used reference images as their guide — matching original ‘80s lighting and set decoration as closely as possible. Wardrobe Designer Nina Fuller spent months sourcing authentic ‘80s wardrobe — particularly for our massive 1984 Prom Hair Band Chorus scenes. Hair and Makeup Designer Kristin Forgy matched original hairstyles to our cast — amassing a huge collection of custom ‘80s wigs.
Our team was also able to locate multiple iconic vehicles from the ‘80s — including a picture-perfect replica of the DeLorean time machine from the “Back to the Future” franchise and the KITT car from Knight Rider. On set, efficiency was the name-of-the-game: each setup was treated like its own movie. Our camera team would film one scene while our grip and art teams would be building subsequent sets — allowing us to leap-frog our way through the production schedule.
“Back to the 80s” took over two years to conceptualize, film, and complete — created by over 200 creative, nostalgic, filmmakers. We hope our audience around the world enjoys this follow-up as much as we enjoyed creating it!
We’re excited for Back to the 80’s, which celebrates a decade full of popular culture that is still referenced today. The 80’s influenced so much of what we know now in comics and film, and has definitely claimed its place in history. So be sure to take some time today to relive the 80’s and check out the latest by Ben & Jensen!