Welcome to Planet Her: a futuristic world filled with flying Ubers, brutalist architecture, and hot aliens of every species imaginable. In the middle of it all is its reigning queen Doja Cat — now painted blue with pointy cheek prosthetics, and who’s taking us out for a night on the town in the video for her breezy new pop song, “Need To Know.”
The pop star’s second single from her highly anticipated third studio album Planet Her is here, and it arrives with an accompanying video that offers an expanded and richer view into the eponymously titled society her new project revolves around. It’s a lot like Earth — people still pregame before parties in luxe apartments, crowd into Ubers, flirt over drinks, and Grimes, oddly enough, is there, too (but as an alien).
Miles Cable and AJ Favicchio, alongside their production company SixTwentySix Productions, are the Los Angeles-based directing duo that helped Doja Cat bring her vision to life, merging VFX and intricate set styling to create the sleek and futuristic vibes of Planet Her’s dreamy interiors and exteriors.
Ahead of the video release, the two directors hopped on a call with NYLON to chat about the making of the video (which was shot over the course of a day), the team of 20 who was in charge of all the prosthetics, and Doja Cat’s creative vision through it all.
How did you get involved on this project?
Miles: Randomly two weeks before this job I had texted Tommy, our rep, just out of the blue after Doja released her newest project before ours. I was like, "Hey, for what it's worth, it just seems like Doja really cares about what she does and I love everything she does. So I'm just kind of putting it out in the universe that I'd love to get our name in the ring and it ever comes across your desk." He's like "It's tough, you know, they have a tight-knit team, but you know, I've definitely thrown your names around." Literally a week later he texted me like, boom, we got a Doja track. And then a week later, it was in motion. So it was pretty wild.
What was the first creative session like with her team when it came to brainstorming for the video?
Miles: It was a pretty amazing convo. We spoke with Brett, her creative director, on the phone pretty quickly after we got the tracks sent to us. We were very excited and that first call really was an amazing chat because he had such a vision and they really cared.
AJ: The album cycle in this Planet Her context was the driving force behind it. She had a general idea of what she wanted to do, so that aesthetic was there. I think the key word that they used was this brutalist, architecturally designed city, that really set us down the path and we made it happen.
The kind of world that you guys were able to flesh out in the music video is very futuristic. Did you guys take any references from pop culture?
Miles: I think there's some soft references towards the Blade Runner and a Fifth Element world that we really gravitated towards. Honestly, that first word, “brutalist,” really struck a chord with us. We just dove into testing some in our worlds and AJ and I worked together on building out some scenes, to just kind of get a vibe and start building out Planet Her.
AJ: I wanted it to be this future balance. Have it be futuristic, but also see elements of the past in there. So that's why we went with a little bit of a ‘70s-inspired futuristic apartment, because that blend is seen quite often, and we didn't want it to be too on the nose. They didn't want to be Jetsons, but we also didn't want to be too Blade Runner. So we kind of just made it in the middle.
Tell me about the set — was it all green screen or built out?
AJ: The set was built. Our production designer, Jonathan Chu, who's amazing, we had our source images and we had our references, and he kind of brought it to life. That main space suite was all practical besides outside of the windows, that was all VFX blue screen, but that set was all built on a soundstage. The bar was part of that space at the place that we shot. Part of it had pillars, so then we just basically outfitted that into a bar. The car was completely fabricated, that dance floor as well. And then we kind of use all these bits and pieces.
Miles: There was no full green screen.
Are there any cute details in the video that you are really proud of for getting into the video?
Miles: I'm really happy that we got a currency shot in there because that was the end of the day. That was something that Doja called out and created. That was an important little piece to really set the stage of where this planet is and how it's an operating society, that they have their own currency. [We’re] just happy that we were able to see that shot in there — those small details add up to big the overall picture.
AJ: Yeah. The glassware and even the vapor coming off the drinks, those details — give credit to Doja. She was like, "Oh, I want this vapor alcohol to be the main source." And one shot we really wanted to do was when she takes a sip of that drink, it lends us to their interaction. We want to make sure that they interacted. So that drink transports us to her idea of who this guy is. That shot was conducted with the probe lens so the lens actually goes into the drink, which is pretty sweet.
The alien makeup is also so detailed. Do you guys know how long that took for Doja and her team?
AJ: Her creative director said that they wanted to hire Melissa Stearns to do the prosthetics. And hearing that name before, we knew she was a big deal. So when that name was dropped, we were overjoyed. They had, like, a 20-person prosthetics team. It was a huge undertaking to get that done. I think their call time was obviously hours and hours before ours.
Does that include Doja’s blue skin paint, or was that post effects?
AJ: It was all paint. They all were painted.
Grimes is also just hanging out in the video. Whose idea was that? What was it like working with her and Doja and their vibe together on set?
Miles: That was honestly all Doja and Grimes. I think they just connected a while ago and are just homies, man. We just got told basically "Hey, we're going to have Grimes in the video," and we're like, "Awesome!" She was awesome to work with. She was down for the cause. She just ended up crushing it all day into the late hours with us. She had a lot of fun.
AJ: Yeah. She was supposed to leave early. She ended up just staying and being a part of it. She brought some great energy there, which was really fun.
Were there any other scenes or cool ideas for the music video that didn't end up making the cut that you could share with us?
Miles: It did not. I think I remember leaving set and being impressed that we didn't cut anything because, thankfully, everyone was just crushing it all day. Everyone was moving and we were really happy with the day. We got everything we wanted and down to VFX and sets and shots, it was pretty sweet.