Directing is Yankovic's 'Paradise'
Accordionist Builds Career Behind Camera
By: Doug Reece

Source: Billboard, March 30, 1996. Page 144.

LOS ANGELES- Although "Weird Al" Yankovic is regularly noticed for his clowning antics and hilarious music spoofs, the Scotti Bros. artist is developing a name for his directorial efforts.

Yankovic, whose most recent clip, "Amish Paradise," debuted on MTV March 11, has directed four other videos for his songs, as well as two clips for comedian Jeff Foxworthy ("Party All Night" and "You Might Be A Redneck If...").

In "Amish Paradise," Yankovic spoofs "Gansta's Paradise" by Coolio Featuring L.V. with a wacky look at the austere religious sect.

One highlight from the clip includes a peculiar visual effect in which Yankovic said his lines phonetically in reverse and then ran the video tape backwards.

Spike Jonze employed a similiar technique in his clip for Pharcyde's "Drop" (Billboard, March 9).

The clip also contains a bevy of visual gags, including a peaceful Amish Yankovic being mocked by tourists and Amish children sneaking a peak at Amish Babes magazine.

Although the lighthearted nature of Yankovic's songs helps keep a fun atmosphere on the set, those who have worked with the director/artist say he is exceptionally professional.

Florence Henderson, who in "Amish Paradise" sends up Michelle Pfeiffer's character from the Coolio video, was impressed with Yankovic's behind-the-scene presence.

"I wasn't sure what to expect, but Al was incredibly professional and prepared. It was nothing like the insane persona [you normally see]," Henderson says.

According to Yankovic, who made his directorial debut in 1986 with his clip "Christmas At Ground Zero," the decision to lens his own videos was a natural progression.

"In my own defense, I've been extremely involved in all of my videos," says Yankovic. "My manager, Jay Levey, directed my videos early on and did a remarkable job, but the truth is, I was just getting to be more and more of a control freak."

Craig Armstrong, producer of "Amish Paradise" and other Yankovic projects, suc as "Headline News" and "Bedrock Anthem," calls Yankovic "one of the better-organized, more visionary types of directors I've worked with in video

Yankovic, however is more concise when describing his directing style.

"I still use an analytical approach, but I find the best way to stay focused is to imagine dollars floating out of the windows," he quips.

For Yankovic, the medium has grown in improtance for his career since he began directing.

"Creatively, videos add another level or two to the song," he says, "and commercially, though a lot of disc jockeys will play my stuff, '90s playlists have tightened up considerably. This has become a very important venue for me."

Both LaMure, executive producer at Daisy Force Pictures and Yankovic's directorial representative, says that she hopes Yankovic will begin directing videos for other acts.

LaMure says that although several labels have reacted enthuiastically to the prospect of working with the director, finding the right project is an immediate concern.

"Al is willing to work somewhat straight, and I don't think that [the clips] would have to be as over the top as they have been. If the right young, quirky band got together with him, the results could be amazing."

There is one picture of Al and Florence Henderson dressed in their Amish costumes.