IN DEPTH: Katy Perry "California Gurls" (part one)

It's 2010 and people still clearly wish they all could be "California Girls", or "Gurls" as in the title of Katy Perry's summertime smash "California Gurl". With the track breaking records at Top 40 radio and selling as briskly as cold drinks on a 100° summer day, it's only right we take another look at the music video, which is also note perfect for the season...

Video Static will be going In Depth on the "California Gurls" the rest of the week with behind-the-scenes pictures, factoids from the shoots and lots of quotage from Motion Theory director Mathew Cullen.

--> watch "California Gurls"


Part 1: Inspiration

>Director Mathew Cullen and the Motion Theory creative team used "California Gurls" as a launchpad to tell a tale of Los Angeles as a bright dreamworld, but with a potentially treacherous underside. Since this is a pop video, it's told through candy. And the visual cues were inspired by artist William Cotton, famed for making sweet works of art through actual sweets, who actually came on-board to create custom pieces for the video.

Mathew Cullen, director: "I'm a California native and have always been fascinated with the CA myth and how it's communicated, from The Beach Boys to The Mamas & The Papas and even David Lee Roth... The myth is an idealized fantasy world where its always sunny and nobody is over the age of 25. I was fascinated with that, but I felt like every year there are those videos of people frolicking on the beach. So, I wanted to do something that was a little more Motion Theory. We came up with the idea of making the video in a candy coated wonderland, a sugary paradise where everything is perfect. As a metaphor it really worked for me and embodied that myth."

Will Cotton Candy Sky Painting William Cotton, artist: "I''m delighted that my paintings are the inspiration for this video. My work is about creating a utopia where all desire is fulfilled all the time, but where pleasure and delight can turn dark and dystopic. Katy embodies the archetypes that I look for in a subject. It was thrilling to work with her and to see her inhabit my landscapes.”

Mathew Cullen: "I had been familiar with William Cotton's work and had pitched Katy the idea of partnering with him on this project... William  is a popular figure in the art world, perhaps because his images are accessible and easy to like. It’s a world that you want to be in. It's inviting. And like the video, it's a dreamlike world of success and indulgence and desire. It's a utopia, but there's also something under the surface you have to be careful about. That's why I wanted to collaborate with him, because I thought his work presented this myth.. Katy knew of his stuff and was into it. I got in touch with him and and he was into it too. He created all the details in the video. He made Snoop's game board, which was complexly made of candy. Over a three day period he baked and constructed it all out of actual sweets. He actually makes these things out of sweets. It's a candy coated world created by his hands and from his ovens."

Sketch of the Candyfornia game board 

Candyfornia Board