Last September Jay-Z sold out Madison Square Garden for his “Answer the Call” concert, featuring guest performers ranging from John Mayer to R&B queens Mary J. Blige and Beyonce. The event not only marked the nine year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on lower Manhattan, but it also brought together a forever-scarred New York City with the new anthem, ‘Empire State of Mind,’ off the album, ‘The Blueprint 3.’
Cameras were on hand at this epic event to capture intimate backstage footage and interviews with Jay, the results of which will now emerge in ‘NY-Z,’ a new documentary from renowned rock photographer/filmmaker Danny Clinch.
While the documentary doesn’t surface until March 22, you can check out the trailer here:
We asked Hoj Johmeri, art director at TBWA, about this project and his experience working with Danny Clinch:
L/L: Looking at the images for this campaign, there is a real feeling of grandeur, as if an epic moment is about to occur. Was this the intention of the campaign? If so, how did you envision achieving that?
HJ: We knew the event would be epic. A September 11th benefit concert with Jay-Z at MSG, the day after Blueprint 3 released … everything was aligning for that concert to be historic. We knew there was an opportunity to do something special to kick-off the new concert series, and we wanted to continue ABSOLUT collaborations with creative visionaries, this time with Jay-Z and Danny Clinch. For the film, we wanted to capture the grandeur of the show from Jay-Z’s perspective … give people a sense of what it’s like to walk out on that stage in front of a capacity crowd. If we succeeded in painting an honest portrait of Jay-Z the artist, giving people access to his world the days and moments leading up to (and after) the show, we could pull it off.
L/L: Many say Jay-Z really sums up the glitz and glamor of New York. On a similar note, Danny Clinch has become known for his vision of and impact on rock n’ roll photography. What was this collaboration like for you?
HJ: Watching Danny work is an amazing thing. He’s a true master, and he’s everywhere. There are always moments on a shoot when something awesome happens and you think … “oh man, I hope we’re getting that”. With Danny, as soon as that thought begins to enter your mind, you look around a bit, and Danny is eight steps ahead of you … with camera in hand. That trust and confidence is important in any collaboration, especially something like NY-Z. Danny is somehow able to get the most decorated stars in the world, like Jay-Z, to drop their guard and let him in. And once he’s in, he captures those rare, natural moments in which we see the person, not the star.
L/L: Were there any really special moments in shooting where you felt like the essence of this project was really coming to light?
HJ: Definitely. We were at Jay-Z’s rehearsal the morning before the show. Jay-Z was running through Empire State, looking out onto an empty MSG, and Danny’s steadicam was circling around him. That was definitely one of those special moments in shooting when you feel the essence of the project is coming to light. With Danny there are many of those moments.
L/L: If you could ideally work with Danny again to shoot any musician working right now, who would you want to shoot?
HJ: That’s easy: The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Radiohead, Marilyn Manson, White Stripes, and Prince.