Rihanna shot the music video for “What Now” inside a warehouse in Phuket, Thailand on September 17, 2013, during a tour stop of the Diamonds World Tour. It was directed by Jeff Nicholas, Jonathan Craven, and Darren Craig from Uprising Creativity. Nicholas and Craven previously worked on the video for Justin Timberlake’s single “Tunnel Vision” from his third studio album The 20/20 Experience. According to Steven Gottlieb of VideoStatic the double-exposure body shots are a visible common similarity of the two videos. On November 13, Rihanna unveiled a behind-the-scenes video via her official Vevo account. During it she explained the concept of the video,
“It’s gonna be kind of eerie, very creepy because ‘What Now’ is one of those songs that you can get really boring with the visual. You can get really almost expected. Everybody’s probably expecting narrative type of video, a love story of some sorts or something really soft and pretty” and then says, “It is pretty and kind of soft, but it’s really a little demented.”
Prior to the video’s release, Rihanna posted a sneak peek of the video on YouTube. The official music video was released to VEVO on November 15, 2013.
Rob Newman is the producer of the video, while Craven, Nicholas and Thananath Songchaikul executively produced the visual. Sing Howe Yam performed the direction of the photography while Clark Eddy is the editor. The video opens to Rihanna appearing on a static television screen in a simple nude gown and crucifix necklace. She then begins to sing whilst being in a darkened room with a black gown on and later appearing in a brightened room with a white gown on. Throughout the video, Rihanna seems to have an “emotional breakdown” and does exorcism-type dance moves. The video switches between the creepy and the pretty Rihanna as she mopes in a sparse warehouse space, possessed by her loneliness.