The electricity in the air was palpable during Justin Bieber: Seasons’ virtual Paleyfest LA panel. Justin Bieber and his fellow panel members let raw emotions flow freely while reflecting on the docu-series filming process. Panel members, most of whom compose Justin Bieber’s inner circle of confidantes, spoke to Justin and Hailey’s bravery for letting themselves be vulnerable on camera. For the Biebers, the experience making the tell-all special was a grueling but cathartic ordeal.
Justin Bieber lives a life like no other. He grew up in the spotlight since his teenage years where his every move landed front-page headlines. In spite of his fame and success, his existence is inseparable from the human condition. The 10-episode series documented Justin’s battle with Lyme disease, mental health issues and drug addiction. In Seasons he wanted to tell an intimate, authentic story of his trials and – in the process – help others deal with their own anxieties and personal demons.
“What Seasons really shows is that life is about relationships and all of us have our own unique relationships with each other. I have my own unique relationship with Josh, Poo Bear, Scooter, [Ratner]. When [Ratner] came along he and I created a new relationship. All Seasons is showing is that life is … about fighting for who you love and what you love,” said Justin Bieber.
On the panel sat YouTube’s Head of Unscripted Original Programming Alex Piper, Producer Ryan Good, Co-EP Joe Termini, Composer Josh Gudwin, Record Producer Poo Bear, Executive Producers Allison Kaye and Scooter Braun, EP/Director Michael D. Ratner and Justin and Hailey Bieber.
Co-Executive producer and photographer Termini said the focus of the series was to show Justin through a personal lens. Despite all his fame and success, Termini wished to show Justin was susceptible to normal, everyday issues like everybody else.
“He really believed it could help people. He really believed that people put him in a place where he’s untouchable and I think it’s really important in this part of his life to say ‘You know what? I’m not perfect. I don’t have everything together. I’m struggling with mental illness’,” said Termini. “I almost get choked up thinking about it. Personally we knew what he was dealing with and sometimes the media can paint another picture but he was really fighting to survive. He was fighting to stay married. He was fighting to build a relationship with his friends and the people that he loves.”
Director Michael D. Ratner touched on Justin’s commitment to authenticity and his willingness to bare it all on camera for his fans. “Justin was willing to show weakness and was willing to talk about stuff not many people would have the courage to talk about because he wanted to connect with his fans and speak his truth. I think that was cathartic,” said Ratner.
Ratner continued by criticizing other concert films and artist documentaries as being “glorified commercials.” Because of Justin’s laissez-faire attitude, Ratner said they achieved an organic look at Justin that not many can achieve. Ratner said, Season “was all-access. There was no list of Justin saying, hey, i’m inviting you into this family but you gotta touch on this, this, this. There was none of that. I say that with pride because I think there’s a big resurgence of these documentaries and tell-all’s that go alongside with albums right now but they’re really – in many cases – these glorified commercials for the artist.”
YouTube’s Head of Unscripted Original Programming Alex Piper commented this content epitomizes the type of platform YouTube is, a website made for authentic, homemade videos. Piper went on to say Seasons was a defining project for YouTube Originals.
“I think this is a great next step in a story that he’s been telling very faithfully for years through his previous documentaries and now into this series,” said Piper. “I think the courage that it took for him and Hailey to let us in that door to be vulnerable at a time when it would’ve been easier for those conversations to happen behind closed doors. There’s something incredibly powerful about that… It’s rare you find the authenticity you feel in this special and I think part of it is because of everyone who spoke today. Justin and Hailey were surrounded with people who they can trust. Trust is everything.”
Piper added that the response was instant and unmatched. The unscripted series made YouTube history. The premiere episode of Justin Bieber: Seasons ranks as YouTube Originals’ most-watched debut episode ever in its first week, according to the video-sharing platform. Bieber has also become the first artist to reach 50 million subscribers on his YouTube artist channel, solidifying his status as the most subscribed artist on the platform.
Justin Bieber: Seasons is produced by Bieber Time Films, SB Projects and OBB Pictures. Justin Bieber will serve as an executive producer. Scooter Braun, Allison Kaye and Scott Manson will serve as executive producers for SB Projects and Michael D. Ratner, Scott Ratner and Kfir Goldberg will serve as executive producers for OBB Pictures.
Videos of all PaleyFest panels, including this one, will be available Monday, Aug. 10, on the Paley Center YouTube channel.