Jonah Haber teams up with Tate McRae for ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ shoot

Jonah Haber teams up with Tate McRae for ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ shoot

Aug 18, 2022, 11:24:52 AM Entertainment

Jonah Haber says he first became a director at just 11 years of age. At the time, it wasn’t the grand film sets he is now accustomed to, but instead he would run around with a little point-and-shoot camera that his parents bought him from Toys R Us and shoot little Claymation projects with it on Saturday mornings. Even at that young age, he was hooked, loving that he could have an idea in his head and turn it into a reality through the lens of a camera.

It may seem like a long time ago, but Haber brings that same passion and adoration for his craft to his work now. As an acclaimed director in his home country of Canada, he aims to always tell a visual story in the cleanest and most captivating way possible. He has achieved this time and time again, as audiences can see with his work on his new, award-winning film Equinox, music videos for chart topping artists, and commercial campaigns for major international brands such as Microsoft and RBC.  

“That feeling of worldbuilding is like no other. There are very few jobs that allow you to think up a story and then have the resources and ability to create that in real life. I still have some of my old childhood Claymation videos on an old hard drive, and sometimes I look back on them to see where I started out,” said Haber. 

One of Haber’s most recent success stories was working on music video performances for pop sensation Tate McRae. Initially, the first music video was her hit “You Broke Me First” for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in the beginning of 2021. After the success of that video, he embarked on a second project with McRae, filming a video performance of her song “Slower” for Jimmy Kimmel Live! in April 2021. The slower performance has over 1.2 million views on YouTube, and played to an audience of 345,000 viewers on Jimmy Kimmel Live! when it initially aired.

“It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that this is another project that really resonated with its audience. Even more so than the Fallon performance, there were so many fan edits that were made of this video – cutting between my video and Tate’s original one for “One Day”. The outpour of support and love from all of Tate’s fans was really sweet and as I’ve said before, knowing a project you directed has had a positive impact on somebody’s day is a feeling like no other. I direct to make audiences feel something, and knowing that this project did that for so many people is all I could ever ask for,” said Haber.

Haber’s concept for the video involved doing a room recreation of McRae’s childhood home where she recorded her first viral song “One Day” in 2017 and paying homage to that video. The performance started off emulating Tate’s first ever viral video and tricked viewers into thinking the entire performance was shot in her childhood home. However, 20 seconds into the video, the entire set changes, a rotating platform shifts Tate into the set with the arches, and a complex and specific lighting sequence is choreographed in congruence to the camera movement, dance choreography, and song timing. To achieve the replica of her childhood bedroom, Haber studied all of McRae’s early videos dozens of times, taking screenshots and breaking down all the elements that were visible in frame, estimating the dimensions of the pattern on the back wall, as well as replicating all the lighting that naturally occurred in the house. Haber even found the exact model of piano McRae used in the video and sourced it in Toronto for the shoot. When the shot transferred from the bedroom view to the grander studio, Haber designed 9 large arches ranging in diameter from 32ft down to 6ft. These arches were then lit with over 80 lighting fixtures. Haber built a scale model of the entire set to help the team in executing his vision.

“Throughout the course of the production, Jonah demonstrated an intricate understanding of crucial design fundamentals that helped shape the audience's experience of Tate's performance. Jonah had taken the liberty, very early on in the pre-production stage, to measure out and build models of what our main set piece would look and feel like on camera. This served as a blueprint that would allow myself, the lighting designer, and production designer to have a clear understanding of what Jonah was looking to do creatively. It gave us full confidence to know that when all of our pieces lined up, his vision would pay off immensely,” said Cinematographer Dennis Grishnin.

When McRae walked onto the set and saw Haber’s detailed replica of her childhood bedroom, she was overcome with familiarity and disbelief that they had created such a mirrored image. For Haber, that was one of the most rewarding aspects of creating the video. Another was the reaction from his family.

“My grandparents are fans of Jimmy Kimmel, and up until this point they’ve never really understood the work that I do as they don’t own a computer or really understand how the internet works. They just have a TV at their house where they watch their shows. The fact that my grandparents were able to see this project I poured so much of myself into was really a meaningful moment,” he concluded.

Headshot by Matt Levin-Gold

On set photo of Tate McRae by Austin Banks

Published by Pooja Agarwal

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