Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” Video Director Shares the Story Behind the Video

Long before he was playing bass and writing songs for Midland, Cameron Duddy was the man behind some of the biggest videos in pop music. The singer started off his career as a music video director, primarily for Bruno Mars. Raised as the son of a Hollywood cinematographer, the seed for Duddy’s passion for film and video was planted early. “I always saw the world through the lens of a camera,” he tells American Songwriter. “It’s always been part of my life and music is an extension of that. Those two things have always coexisted together.”

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Duddy and Mars linked up when Duddy’s wife was hired as the photographer to shoot press photos early on in his career. He was soon hired as Mars’ tour videographer, the two hitting it off almost immediately. “He took a shine to me, we understand each other and hit it off,” he remarks. Duddy served as the director for the music videos for some of Mars’ blockbuster hits including “24K Magic,” “The Lazy Song,” and “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson featuring Mars.

Duddy tells American Songwriter about his experience working on the video for “Uptown Funk,” his collaborative process with Mars, and his favorite scene in the video that’s amassed a whopping five billion views on YouTube.

[RELATED: Interview: Midland’s Cameron Duddy Reflects on Directing Videos for Bruno Mars]

Story Behind the Video, “Uptown Funk”

“We’re basically connected at the hip on Bruno videos. He’s very particular and he’s got a strong understanding of his audience and how he wants to present himself. It’s my job to reinforce that idea, which is at 80 percent, and make it 100 percent. Sometimes that means editing and sometimes that means embellishing. When it came to ‘Uptown Funk,’ it was like, ‘How can we make these vignettes feel stylized and exciting without it being like parody?’ There’s a fine line there. And he really went to bat for me because it’s a Mark Ronson song. I just happened to be a fly on the wall when they were writing it and it took a year and a half for them to figure it out.

“I used to take that song at soundcheck and they would screw around with it. Ronson wanted a different director to do it and Bruno was like, ‘You gotta have my guy do it.’ We had a ton of stuff up at that point very successfully. So he went to bat for me. It just comes down to getting the vision, figuring out how to do it, and hiring the right people around you to help you realize that vision and not settling for good enough. I feel like that video is a great example of continually ratcheting up what is acceptable and going for what is great. That was one of those gigs that was the perfect representation of the song, and the song was just this massive global hit. The right place at the right time with the right ambition and the right amount of time–education and preparation mixed with the right amount of naivete.”

On His Favorite Scene in the Video

“I love the hairdresser shot. I think that just so classically Bruno. And the fact that he got Mark to do all that shit. Mark was the straight man of the music video in a Dan Aykroyd, Blues Brothers way. There was a great dynamic. It was a really cool day and I think you can feel it without any words. I love that there’s a shoeshine scene where this guy is trying to polish his shoes while he’s dancing. And that was my producer, Jeremy [Sullivan] who produced all those videos, we always put him in these little bit parts. So that’s him trying to shine Bruno’s shoes [laughs]. That always makes me chuckle to watch that.”

(Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS)

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