When Justin Bieber: Seasons – the 10-part documentary chronicling Justin Bieber’s life between the blockbuster record Purpose of 2015 and the preparation for this year’s comeback record Changes – stumbled across YouTube Originals in February, it quickly established a record for the most watched platform. original content never published, with 33 million views in its first seven days.
The series, which approached Bieber’s marriage, his Lyme disease diagnosis, and his struggles with addiction and mental health with surprising candor, has been hailed by fans as an incredibly intimate window into the world of their hero. -love.
As the series neared its conclusion, we saw Bieber set to release the album and prepare for a year-long world tour in support of Changes – and his fans preparing to experience the album again. Bieber show firsthand.
Then, of course, everything suddenly stopped. “We put things aside just before life because we knew it had changed for everyone in March,” says Michael D Ratner, the documentary’s director.
“The universe made everyone slow down, so very quickly Justin and I talked about how this was a really unique moment in time, and capturing what he was doing during that impromptu change could be really compelling. .
Within weeks, Ratner picked up his camera and started shooting a second series, Next Chapter, produced by OBB Pictures, Bieber Time Films and Ratner’s SB Projects, and released on YouTube Originals on October 30.
“It’s a different approach this time around, with a feel of life, but I think the fans are going to really like it,” Ratner adds.
Where the previous series captured the hectic pace of the life of an international superstar – and, of course, the endless carousel of meetings, recording sessions, and touring rehearsals that come with it – Next Chapter draws a more intimate image of Justin and Hailey Bieber’s relationship while living under lock and key.
“I think Justin was always so aware that other people were facing much bigger issues and losing jobs, and obviously had health issues too, but this was also the time to work on him. – even and its relationships, ”Ratner explains.
“I think the sequel to the previous season where he was in a tough spot and talked about his vulnerability, now being in a better place and working on himself and those relationships is really interesting to see side by side. .
The series’ filming process came with its own logistical challenges due to the pandemic: Ratner notes that he “never expected to know so much about virus testing.”
But the other obvious challenge of filming a celebrity like Bieber – namely the level of confidence it takes to really get under her subject’s skin – was easier to overcome.
Having worked with Bieber not only on Seasons, but also on the music video for her single “Intentions” – which highlighted the stories of three Los Angeles women and their struggles, while also launching a charity fund to benefit families supported by the Alexandria House Charity – their connection was such that Ratner was able to create something remarkably authentic.
“I think when you have that successful experience together, whether it’s a visual album, a music video, or a documentary series, there’s that kind of efficiency and confidence,” Ratner says.
“In Seasons we were dealing with a very heavy subject, mental health was a priority and the marriage was more recent. I think this element sort of checks it all out, but with that built-in trust you can get started. I think there was a willingness to just be themselves, and I think some of the best things are when they watch some of the old wedding footage and they sit there taking it all as a moment of reflection. With our history of having so many projects together, I think you really get that magic and then the authenticity.
For Ratner, it was also encouraging to see Bieber’s focus and clarity during a time of immense turmoil. “I think he’s in a really healthy state of mind.
I think his faith and his relationship with God is something he credits for how he got to this point.
I think you can see it in his looks and in his body language during the interviews, from his skin to his smile, to the way he presents himself and articulates his thoughts, he’s just got good health about him ” , explains Ratner. .
As to whether Next Chapter feels like the final chapter in their successful collaboration, Ratner is less certain. “It is always difficult to find an end to these documents with him, because it is easy to forget that he is still only 26 years old,” concludes Ratner. “In this case, I really feel like it’s just that: the next chapter.”