Beyonce's 'Lemonade': The Directors and Cinematographers Behind the Visual Masterpiece
Kahlil Joseph, Jonas Akerlund and the singer's creative director Todd Tourso are among those who brought the hourlong HBO special to life.
The world stopped when Beyonce premiered her visual album Lemonade on HBO Saturday night (April 23). The hourlong musical drama was not only an explosion of the mind for every Ivy Park-owning Beyhive member — it was also visual eye candy.
Directed by Beyonce and Kahlil Joseph, Lemonade also showcased the talents of some A-plus directors and cinematographers. Neil Miller of Filmschoolrejects.com zoomed in on the cinematography squad that helped make Beyonce’s Lemonade the masterpiece it was. Below is a closer look.
The L.A.-based filmmaker is no stranger to album visuals. With his hands in various projects like Flying Lotus’ short film Until the Quiet Comes and Kendrick Lamar’s 15-minute m.A.A.d., Joseph is also credited for being a co-director of Lemonade alongside Beyonce Knowles Carter.
Before Bey beckoned all her ladies to get in formation, she tapped New York University and American Film Institute grad Melina Matsoukas to helm the empowering visuals for "Formation," which showed Beyonce on top of a sinking police car and a bevy of beautiful black women twirling on their haters.
Rimmasch’s résumé is loaded with Beyonce projects. From her Formation Tour teaser to the short film for "Bang Bang" (also known as “On the Run Pt. 2”), the American filmmaker has experience in capturing every side of Mrs. Carter.
As Bey’s creative director, Tourso helped bring the vision of the self-titled LP to life, both in visuals and on tour. In an interview with Hypetrak, he recalls the madness of working with Yonce. “Our entire team was completely consumed by this project and lived in a creative vacuum for six months,” he said, possibly a clue (in hindsight) as to why the global icon tapped Tourso for Lemonade.
The director last teamed with Bey for her “Haunted” and “Superpower” videos off her Beyonce LP as well as her and Jay Z’s On the Run documentary. In a behind-the-scenes YouTube clip, Akerlund says, “If you’re looking for the average video, I’m probably not your guy," hence why he appears on the Lemonade credit list.
Romanek helped Bey build “Sandcastles” for Lemonade. After all the car-window bashing and middle-finger raising, the softest moments in the chapter, titled "Forgiveness," shows music's influential husband and wife in a truly intimate and perhaps often hard to reach moment.
Billed for Lemonade’s “film adaptation and poetry,” the Somali-British poet brought Bey's musical anecdotes to life. Shire's raw words in poems like "For Women Who Are Difficult to Love," "The Unbearable Weight of Staying (The End of the Relationship)," and "Nail Technician as Palm Reader" appear as interludes between songs, as Fader reports.
The cinematographer has visualized commercials for Gatorade, Nike, Under Armour and Apple Pay. He also worked with Kahlil Joseph on the short film Double Conscience, a double presentation for the aforementioned K.Dot flick m.A.A.d.
The New York-based filmmaker/cinematographer began his career snapping photos of Wu-Tang Clan. He also put in work for the documentary Field N----s, following people over the course of a series of summer nights in Harlem based on the Malcolm X speech “Message to the Grassroots.”
Well-versed in commercials for luxury brands Mercedes, Cadillac and Calvin Klein, among others, Ekberg has also dabbled in the music video arena with cinematography for clients including Beyonce (“Superpower"), Lady Gaga (“Telephone”), Coldplay, The Rolling Stones and more.
Santiago’s visual canvas has extended from commercials to music’s elite, booking gigs for David Bowie and Pusha T as well as Coca-Cola and H&M.
Swerving in and out of music videos for the likes of Selena Gomez and Lana del Rey (plus more of your favorites) to visual spots for Cadillac and Chevrolet, the New York-based cinematographer also took his talents to Lemonade.
(See in the list of directors above.)
Sundance Film Festival regular Reed Morano was invited to become the then-youngest member of the American Society of Cinematographers in 2013. Now, she has muscled her way to being the director of the 2015 drama Meadowland starring Olivia Wilde. She also worked on the HBO series Vinyl.
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.