The concept for the video came to Centineo and ARTY (born Artem Stoliarov) organically, particularly because the whole collaboration was built from an actual bond. "What I love about 'Save Me Tonight' is that it came to be through friendship," Centineo tells Billboard. "It was a perfect scenario for friends to come together and create. That’s truly what I’m here for."
"Working with Lily and Noah was a dream come true," ARTY adds. "Having the chance to collaborate with my friends was so much fun. Noah did an incredible job."
Centineo filled Billboard in on his first directing experience, and why working with ARTY was such a positive introduction to creating his own art. Check out the "Save Me Tonight" video and our interview below.
Have you always wanted to try directing, or is it more something that’s become of interest to you as you’ve been acting over the years?
Directing was rarely a thought in my head growing up. Especially not when I first began acting or working on my first professional sets. It wasn’t until I started working on [Freeform family drama] The Fosters that I started to visualize myself in the directors chair.
How did this particular opportunity with ARTY come about? Were you looking to direct a music video as your first directing project?
This opportunity was born from the family dynamic I’ve been fortunate enough to discover over the course of the last year. I’m overwhelmingly fortunate to have those guys in my life. I was playing with the idea of directing some kind of short form story for a few months, and when I heard "Save Me Tonight" for the first time, I made a joke about directing the music video. ARTY and Kyle [McCarthy, ARTY’s manager, who introduced the producer to Noah] had actually wanted to bring up the idea of me directing it organically, so when I joked about it they immediately affirmed the concept -- and that was that.
Was the "getting back at bullies" concept your idea, or did ARTY kind of already have a vision when you got involved?
ARTY and I built the storyline from the ground up without preconception. The bullies weren’t even a part of the picture at first. I remember taking a couple of weeks to flesh out various forms that the video could have taken. One night, ARTY and I met at the London Hotel in West Hollywood with a plan to finish the outline and lock in a treatment, before going out with friends. Ultimately, we actually stayed in the entire night with friends and finalized our video. It was insanely celebratory when we locked it all in.
How did Lily Collins get involved, and what do you think she brought to the main character role that you guys envisioned for the video?
Lily’s involvement mirrors my own. I had met Lily in late 2018, and we immediately connected. She’s an intelligent, passionate and engaging human being, one hell of a conversationalist, a visceral actress, and quite a fantastic dance partner. Lily effortlessly introduces us to a subtle vulnerability that lives in every frame, and grounds the hyper-reality displayed in our video. She shows us an evolution that transcends fear, alienation and apprehension through self-discovery by means of friendship, trust and a bit of paint.
Some people may not realize that you've already had music video experience, as you were Camila Cabello's love interest in the "Havana" video. Did you learn anything from being part of "Havana" that helped you in directing “Save Me Tonight”?
[Laughs] Man, that was such a killer experience. I would say that all of my experience on any set over the course of my life has helped me in directing “Save Me Tonight." “Havana” is half-performance piece and half-narrative; “Save Me Tonight” is 100 percent narrative, meaning that [ARTY] is never performing the song in any part of the video, and its purpose is to tell a story with a kick-ass soundtrack.
What were your biggest takeaways from the whole experience? Was it easier or tougher than you imagined?
A pivotal takeaway was learning how to be malleable with my vision without compromising it. Learning that I can arrive at the same creative destination while taking a completely different route than what was previously planned is so crucial. I’m also exceedingly lucky to have partnered with James, Monica and Cisco over at Triggr&Bloom. They knocked all of this out of the park, organizing our team, crew, extras, budget -- all of the above. Which is another takeaway: Whatever it is you are doing, make sure you surround yourself with the right team.
I know there’s a To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before sequel coming, but what else is in store for you, or what are you most looking forward to? More director projects?
Looking forward to a bunch of possibilities in 2019, and a few releases. But honestly, I’m just stoked for ARTY. He’s the rarest kind of human, and deserves all of the love and light that is on its way.