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The circumstances surrounding Britney’s music video shoot for “Gimme More” off 2007’s Blackout album have always been fuzzy. Why was the official clip mostly shots of the pop star dancing on a stripper pole under a haze of blue and purple light? Why did the director’s cut surface so many years later and include a cat? Was there a funeral scene? We’ll never truly know what happened, but a photographer by the name of Theo Hand is opening up to MuuMuse about his experience documenting the video shoot, and it’s telling. He also shared several never-before-seen photos from the day, which you can view above.

2007 was the height of the paparazzi craze, which played a heavy hand in Britney’s troubles, but Hand admits none of them were allowed on set. “It was crazy outside,” he said. “It was like a 2 or 3 story brick building, kind of a warehouse. On the sidewalk and across the street, there was anywhere from like 15 to maybe even 50 dudes out there. It was insane. It was a bit overwhelming as far as the amount of people to get shots for somebody. I guess it made sense because she was in the news quite a bit prior. There was one scene where she had to walk down the sidewalk. That was a bit chaotic. I wouldn’t say I’m anti-paparazzi, but it’s kind of the antithesis of what I feel photography is. They’re taking pictures. They’re not photographers. It’s very leech-like. It’s just not my thing.”

See more photos of Britney Spears on set of the “Gimme More” music video shoot

That opens up discussions for the sidewalk scene where Britney is seen casually strolling down the street next to a brick wall. But what about that infamous funeral concept? The scene where Britney was burying her former self would emerge a new woman. “I kept hearing that on my Instagram. I never really knew, or was privy to, a funeral scene,” he admits. “Nobody told me about it or talked about it. The scene I posted of her on the bed with the cat — that was one of, like, three or four scenes. I didn’t know what was going in or what got cut.”

And in a strange turn of events, Hand says he was forced to hand over all of the images he took of Britney that day. “I was trying to get some other images. They took the memory cards right there — they were pretty adamant about that. I was doing Jake a favor….it’s their gig, I’m here to shoot photos. There were photos I wanted to get back that I couldn’t get back of her dancing on the pole.

MuuMuse asks: “They wouldn’t send them to you?”

“No,” Hand admitted. “It was shady — the whole thing. There was a lot of fuckery going on. I didn’t enter it with a contract.”

Hand also wonders if someone was paid off at Britney’s former label JIVE records because the photos magically appeared online awhile later. “Here’s an interesting thing, though: Jive Records had those photos,” he said. “Nobody else did. So I’m looking around the Internet. I saw them pop up on a few websites. A few shots. I think I wrote about that at the end of my Instagram. Somebody got paid off for those. My assumption, or guess, would be that Jive Records cut a deal because there’s money in that. And that’s the reason they’re all there. I looked online and found paparazzi sites that had my photos. I got like 300 or 400 photos that they did give me from that day. It’s just that one scene that they didn’t want me to have, I guess, because it’s **** photos of her dancing. Maybe to keep it for themselves, so they could sell it.”

Read the entire interview HERE, which includes Hand’s description of Britney’s mood on set and more.

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