Rihanna's Co-Directors on 'Bitch Better Have My Money': 'People Can Hate It, People Can Love It' (Exclusive)

Courtesy Photo
A still from Rihanna's 2015 music video "Bitch Better Have My Money"

Rihanna pulled no punches on her highly anticipated video for the single "Bitch Better Have My Money" -- literally.

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The video, a pulpy story of Rihanna taking (occasionally bloody) revenge on a man who took her money, was co-directed by Megaforce, a quartet of French filmmakers who've previously masterminded videos for everyone from Kid Cudi to Madonna. Leo Berne and Charles Brisgand, two of the group's members, spoke with Billboard about how it all came together.

How did you come up with the concept?

Leo Berne: The main idea came from her. We received a few paragraphs around the end of January [describing the story] with the guy who didn't pay her. From that, we had to write the treatment, coming up with how we could change the story and keep her vision. We had to find what was in the middle, and how to finish on the same page.

How much of it was pulled from her own story [Rihanna famously fired her accountant for allegedly giving her bad advice in 2009]?

LB: That's for her to say. It wasn't a big deal to say who the guy was -- we came up with the accountant during the shoot. We didn't focus so much on who he was, we just wanted to use the opportunity to say who was the bitch. 

Some people believed that was the girl, but through the whole thing it was about that guy. That's the way we constructed the video. We wanted to have the guy appearing at the beginning, but you don't really notice him. 

In the end though, the whole video, he was the bitch.

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Where was it shot?

LB: In L.A.

When was it shot? It seems odd that it's been so long since the single came out.

LB: Early April? Also because we had to find a schedule that matched hers and ours. We did a lot of versions to end up with the final edit -- it was almost 26 cuts. At the end, when you are really into the detail, you can have a week-long discussion about just one shot. It's like this when we're really into it. That's the game, when you are into collaboration, when an artist is involved that much in the process.

So it sounds like she was pretty hands on with the technical aspects?

LB: It's great to have an artist who's into the video. Sometimes artists are quite bored by music videos, so they leave before you end the shoot and stuff. Even though [Rihanna]'s a big star, she's really into it. When we were shooting, the energy was there. Even though it was a really hectic shoot, when we said action, she was there. 

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Were you guys concerned at all about what the response would be like?

Charles Brisgand: From the beginning she was like, "I don't care if it's not aired on TV, and we can go quite far." She wanted something that people don't expect from her. 

LB: [Rihanna] wanted to surprise people, to have more like a bad girl attitude and all.

CB: Like the girl hanging from her feet? [Rihanna] was like, "Oh, OK, let's have her naked."

LB: We've already done some quite controversial videos -- we're not aiming for that, but we're more into the movies world than the music video one. We just follow the spirit of the track. The track is a bit aggressive, so we just translate how the track is in the video.

CB: Trying to not be just be slick and do a "music video."

What would you say to people who think it's too violent?

LB: We heard the song, we liked the song -- it has this kind of violent thing but for me it's really 90's. Like old school gangster rap things, which are a bit provocative. 

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CB: I don't think it's so shocking today. You can't please everybody. It's a kind of universe we went in with her -- it's not the kind of video where you try to make people think. Some people can hate it, people can love it, but we think it's pretty exciting to make something like that.

If we wanted to shock people, we would have done something different. It really was not the intention, to shock people -- it was more just having some references and trying to find the right tone. For us, the tone was not taking ourselves too seriously -- it was a big joke. There was a lot of humor in the video -- it's a bit Tarantino feeling, I would say. 

From the beginning, she didn't want it to look too serious. I think it was interesting, just to find this tone, which more than just "I'm a bad girl." We were playing with that.

LB: In the story, we wanted to have a little evolution between our kidnappee and her -- at the beginning she's more rough, but as the road trip continues, they started to have more fun together. They're partying together.