OFFSTAGE: E.T. Inspires Taylor Swift’s “Back to December”

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Video director Yoann Lemoine just told me everything about shooting Taylor Swift’s video for “Back to December,” and I think emotionally, Swift has met her match. This is a man who is as artistic as he is sensitive. From the minute he heard “Back to December,” he got it. (Keep in mind, he is French. And has a thick accent. So everything he said sounded that much more meaningful and romantic.) He said that the idea for the video came to him, and I’m not making this up, from the movie, E.T.: “You know, the way Elliot is connected to E.T. when [Elliot] is at school, when E.T. is drinking but Elliot is feeling that alcohol,” he explained.

“Something I really liked about the song was the very emotional side of it, and how I could play with the winter theme of it. Like how there is that parallel between the feelings she is having and the coldness of snow. I wanted to draw out the way that he is outside, but she is the one who is cold because they are connected. He’s freezing, but she’s feeling pain,” he said.

Footage with the brooding boy (male model Guntars Asmanis) was shot in Binghamton’s MacArthur Park, south of Syracuse, N.Y., which was the only place they could find snow at the time of the shoot. And the scenes with Swift were shot in what Lemoine called an old country mansion outside of Nashville. So for all you will-she-fall-in-love-again speculators, Swift and Asmanis never even met. Lemoine said he cast him for his fragility and his “very subtle way of being sad.” When I asked him why there were no scenes with the two young lovers actually together, he said he wanted the video to be honest. “I don’t like that trend. They have broken up. So there is no reason they are together,” he said. “This is what is painful.”