I had the privilege of working as the DP for the Missy Elliott portion of the Dua Lipa – Levitating (Madonna Remix) Music video. Missy Elliott was a joy to work with and the entire crew was pleasant and friendly, even under the added stress caused by working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, director Derek Blanks kept the energy on set positive and fun.
We joined a Zoom call with the team from London who created the Dua Lipa video. They already had a rough cut and some VFX in place that they shared with us along with their vision of how Missy fits into the piece. When I first saw the video, it struck me by it’s creative visuals and strange storyline. I didn’t understand the story, but I pretended that I did as I spoke with the Brits on the Zoom call.
The video is out now, and I love it, but I still don’t understand it. Having directed several of my own videos, I take pleasure in dissecting the mysterious art form. To help me better understand it, I outlined the plot:
Dua wishing the moon wasn’t so boring and dull. A neighbor girl has just the pill for that so she places it under her pillow to cook it.
Dua claps and tells her girl astronomer friend to begin working toward making her a more interesting moon. The girl whips out her telescope to inspect the moon but instead gets caught swooning over another neighbor girl.
Neighbor girl 2 embraces the voyeurism and joins neighbor girl 1 on her quest to make Dua a better moon. Nearby teenagers at the skate park catch word of this plan and also embark on this journey.
Androgynous couple already have their own plan for carrying out this mission. They wait for the sun to set. Beamer dude has a plan to lasso the old moon for himself. He too waits for the setting sun.CHORUS 2
Young Bruce Lee paints a large symbol of the new moon upon a muslin canvas to begin the ritual of the new moon. Meanwhile, androgynous couple prepare their moon kryptonite.
PRE CHORUS 1
The old moon sets over the town, one last time. Androgynous couple holds up the kryptonite which contains a miniature Missy Elliott designed to invoke the new moon with a sick rap verse.
Missy raps inside the Kryptonite to weaken the old moon into transformation. A teen couple makes their ultimate love sacrifice under the old moon.
PRE CHORUS 2
A meteor shoots out of the old moon as everyone enjoys watching the show of the red moon transformation.
Beamer guy now has the old bright white moon in his BMW passenger seat. The moon meteor falls to the earth. The meteor was actually an escape pod containing a dancing drag queen. Everyone dances to summon the new moon. Beamer guys refuses to dance in his JNCO Jeans.
Beamer guy is satisfied with his old moon because it transforms into a beautiful young woman. The androgynous couple tell their kryptonite that it did good. The new moon is too vibrant for the old moon girl to look at so she dawns some sick shades. Dua and her man gaze upon the ominous new moon they have created.
I hope my detailed plot summary helps you understand this thought-provoking video. Among the recurring themes of blissful youth, metamorphosis, love, and acceptance, I can’t help but shake the feeling that there is an even deeper meaning that we’ve yet to uncover. Will you please provide me with your insights in the comments so we can unlock the code to this mysterious music video together?