Rare photographs taken by Douglas Kirkland document creation of the music video hailed as the greatest of all time.
It’s the most famous music video of all time – and these intimate photographs give an insight into the making of Michael Jackson’s legendary Thriller more than 30 years ago.
And as sales of the King of Pop’s record-breaking album of the same name surpasses 100million worldwide – becoming the first ever to do so – these behind-the-scenes shots show the process behind the creation of the 13-minute spooky short film that has been hailed as pinnacle of the pop idol’s career.
Taken by photographer Douglas Kirkland in 1983, Jackson is shown being transformed into a werewolf and zombie – as well as captured laughing and joking on set with co-star Ola Ray – and of course, clad in his iconic red and black leather jacket.
Hundreds of similar never-before-seen photographs are published in Michael Jackson: The Making of ‘Thriller in which Kirkland and journalist Nancy Griffin recall their exhilaration at being on the set.
Although it cost an unprecedented $500,000 to make, the video, directed by John Landis, helped Jackson break racial barriers and earned him a place on MTV, which until then had overwhelmingly featured white acts.
The nearly 14 minute long epic also became the first music video to be included in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress months after the singer’s death in 2009, cementing forever its place in cinematic history.
Transformation: The singer is shown being transformed into the werewolf for the horror-themed video that runs for nearly 14 minutes.
Michael sits in a chair holding a snake while a make-up artist works to transform the singer into a werewolf for the short film.
Team work: Photographer Douglas Kirkland took these behind-the-scenes pictures on the set of the music video in 1983.
The spooky video features werewolves and zombies, but as the singer was a Jehovah’s Witness at the time, a disclaimer appears at the start, stating: ‘Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult.’
Thriller cost a staggering half a million dollars to make and was the most expensive music video created at the time.
Co-stars: Michael’s girlfriend in the 13-minute long video was played by actress Ola Ray, who has also modeled for Playboy magazine. The immediately recognizable black and red leather jacket worn by Jackson was iconic.
The video is directed by John Landis (pictured with Jackson), who also directed An American Werewolf in London. Jackson wanted Landis to direct the video after seeing the film.
The nearly 14 minute long epic became the first music video to be included in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
The epic nature of the video paved a path for artists to create lavish music videos in order to cement a place in pop culture.
Sources: Daily Mail | All Things Michael