You know Brett Ratner: the big-budget guy who directed Rush Hour and X-Men 3 (next up: Beverly Hills Cop 4!). But before he broke into Hollywood in the late '90s, this kid from Miami was one of the most sought-after music video directors in the biz. A new DVD that dropped yesterday called The Shooter Series Vol. 1: Brett Ratner collects most of the director's videos for the first time, along with some of his commercial work, NYU student films, home movies, a behind the scenes documentary and more.
To give you a taste of his resume, we selected six of our favorite Ratner-directed videos—including bangers from Wu-Tang, D'Angelo, and Public Enemy—and asked the man himself to give a little commentary about how each classic came together. Believe us, the man's got stories for days...
Interview By Brendan Frederick
Wu-Tang Clan "Triumph" (1997)
DIRECTOR'S COMMENTARY: "It was the first million dollar rap video. When Steve Rifkind asked me, I said, 'Are you sure about this record? There's no chorus!' He says "Trust me, its gonna be the biggest record of the year. Only Wu-Tang could pull this off.' So, I set up the video—Joseph Kahn was my cinematographer. I hear that they want eleven Suburbans—they each want their own. They each also want $50,000 worth of gear, and they told me all their designers. So first day, these guys are walking in one at a time, and each guy walks into the dressing room, and walks out with plastic bags filled with all the clothes. I called Steve like, 'They're stealing all the clothes!' He's like, 'Don't worry, let them have it.'"
"It's a five day shoot, and it's crazy. The greatest fuckin' experience, they're eating mushrooms the whole time. Ol' Dirty never shows up. I was like, Oh my god, this is fucking insane! The most fun I ever had. After shooting ends, they all leave to go on tour in Europe, but Ghost never would travel, because he had diabetes. So he checks into a hotel, and they said, 'Yo Ghost, you watch Brett, and watch over that edit, man. White devil could fuck it up!" So, we're in the edit room, and we call the group on speakerphone. And it's the funniest thing, this is embedded in my memory. They're all on the phone like, 'White muthafuckin' devil, man, tryin' to rob us motherfucker!' And Ghost is looking at me while on speakerphone, just winking at me like, I love you man! [laughs]."
"So three days into the edit, I get a call that Ghost had had been kicked out of like eleven hotels, and I'm like, 'Why were you kicked out?' He's like, 'I don't know man, I got fucked up, and I just start breaking shit. Can you come get me? I got no place to stay.' So I let him stay at my house. Suddenly my phone rings, and it's Steve Rifkind, 'Whats going on?' I go, 'Nothing, I'm just bringing Ghost over my house 'cause he got kicked out of the hotel.' Then there's silence on the other end of the phone. I say, 'Whats wrong?' He goes, 'I gotta call you back.' Five days later, he calls me up and goes, 'Are you okay? Oh my God, you scared the shit outta me, man. How can you let this guy stay at your house? I don't even let these guys know where I live!' So a month goes by, and I would edit all day, and Ghost would just chill at my house until we finished. A month later, I'm with my girlfriend in the backyard, and the cat starts going fucking crazy and starts digging into the dirt. We dig up a bucket of fried chicken. Ghost buried a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken in the backyard. How fuckin' freaky is that?"