Prince Video Directors, Part 2: Sign O’ The Times Original Director Remembers “Prince Fired Me For Not Doing Closeups”

Prince’s Sign o’ the Times concert film was a wild ride, from live performances to additional surreal footage of the band. The film is credited as “directed by Prince,” but that wasn’t always the case. With the recent passing of the music legend, we approached heralded commercial director & music video helmer Daniel Kleinman about his experience with the Purple One on this film; Kleinman actually directed the live performance footage that is seen in the film.

“I did [a live performance shoot] for a Sheila E. concert,” Kleinman said. “Prince did a couple of songs with her on stage at the end of her set, then he took over altogether. He liked the material I shot and how I edited it, which then subsequently led to Prince asking me to shoot his movie Sign O’ The Times. I shot the live part of Sign O’ The Times, everything that was in front of an audience. Then I flew to Minneapolis and went to his complex, where we were going to shoot all the close-ups, because my concept had been to shoot the wide shots with an audience but not have cameras running about on stage so as not to compromise the shots.”


“I wanted to shoot with an audience to capture the atmosphere, and then I wanted to recreate the live concert on stage in Minneapolis, shoot the close-ups and be able to get all those shots you can’t get at a live concert. I’d shot a music video for him for ‘Anotherloverholeinyohead,’ which was part of a different whole concert I’d also shot for him. But still I’d never met him, and he’d never talked to me. He only ever communicated with me through notes he sent by way of one of his minders. I never got to the point where I could communicate that I’d filmed all the wide shots with the intention of shooting close-ups later.”


“So then, I arrive in Minneapolis and I found out that Prince was outraged that I’d not shot any close-ups of him, so he sacked me. So I have no credit on that film at all. He’s not a very nice bloke. He was surrounded by a lot of people who made a lot of money off him, his band were on this journey of success with him, but as far as I could tell no one liked him much, there seemed to be a lot of resentment behind his back and bent egos around. It was really weird. A horrible atmosphere actually.”

Join us on May 7th for DANCE MUSIC SEX ROMANCE: A Prince Video Dance Party in Tribute at Rough Trade in Brooklyn. Tickets and info are available here. 


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