Meet the People Behind Beyoncé: Todd Tourso
By Out.com Editors
— Todd Tourso, Creative Director at Parkwood Entertainment
I think having a graphic design background prepares you for any type of visual career, for me anyway. The principles are really the same no matter what you do. Contrast, scale, minimalism. I never really looked at it like different things. To me, laying out a fashion story sort of takes the same principles as editing a music video. Directing a music video takes the same principles as directing a fashion shoot. Creating a garment takes the same principles as creating a poster. I never really saw boundaries between fields. I just see it as visual arts. I don't look at this like a concert. To me, it's performance art.
"The reason why Beyoncé and I are able to work well together is because she's completely fearless in trying new things. She's completely relentless in her pursuit of perfection. We both have those qualities. At the end of the day, it's not about sleep or money, it's about putting something in the world that you're proud of and that you think will affect generations after you. It sounds cheesy, but that's why I'm willing to work so hard for her. There's only been a few bosses in my life who've felt the same way. When you have this type of leadership and muse and mentor, I think the sky's the limit.
"Another reason why I love working with her is she's open to mistakes and open to change. So you start with an idea, that might be your idea, and somebody else might misunderstand it and take it somewhere else, and you have to have the humility that their misunderstanding led to a more beautiful idea. If that makes any sense. But basically, Leanne had this idea that—and I thought this was brilliant—the 'Partition' video should be wide-screen, as if you're looking through a crack in a partition. I loved that.
"From that, I felt we still needed something because you can't go that abstract in a Beyoncé video. So then we had this whole comedy moment where maybe it was a drive that's like funny, but in developing that idea I basically said—and the picture popped up in my mind—that it should be an antique Rolls Royce and it should be Paris and it would be sweet, if they were picking you up from Crazy Horse. Then she goes, "I love Crazy Horse, that's where I took Jay for his birthday. Actually, why don't we just rent Crazy Horse and shoot the whole thing there?" So the concept just went from here to there, and it became what it was meant to be. Similarly enough, with the 'Heaven' video, I got an email on a Thursday that was like, "I want you to fly out to Puerto Rico and direct this video. Here's the song, we just made it last week, what do you think?"
"We were flying out two days later, and I'm sitting there trying to pull together a whole concept and at like 5:30 a.m. I get an email [from her] with a full-on treatment: a story, reference images, shots. I was blown away. Her idea for that was a bucket list. 'Let's do these great touristy things with me and another girl and it'll be a happy video with sad music. Then you'll find out that the reason we're doing all this crazy stuff is because the girl is dead and we're living out her bucket list.' I was like, 'That's a brilliant concept.' So we went to Puerto Rico and shot it with Ashley, who's one of her dancers and a friend. We ended up with a super small crew, going around and shooting all the time, which is what she loves to do. In watching all the footage, it was actually all the real stuff we shot that felt powerful and the other stuff we shot that felt kind of corny. So she was able to say that maybe it's not the bucket list concept. It's the same concept, but it's not quite as literal and defined. Instead, we had happy vignettes of these two girls throughout their life and it'll just end with her walking through a cemetery. Kind of abstract and less literal in the end. I think it made it much more powerful. I think she's just a visual person.”
Photograph by Ricardo Nelson