Music Videos are the most fun to make. You get to make up a story that has the music already worked out for it. It’s a bonus that you don’t have to worry about sound at any stage of production.
Actually, music is where my own personal Pandora’s box and fountain spring unite. With an mp3 player, hours of music and an open road, I could quite possibly write you a feature film in half a day! Walking for miles listening to music is my personal method of creating stories. The amount of video stories I’ve penned in my head over the years, just walking around listening to music must run into hundreds. Music blaring through my head in solitude is a highly emotional experience for me and one that allows me to function creatively with the only boundary being the mood of music presented.
What I find difficult is judging whether that particular concept is right for the artist. Videos are personal to most artists and they usually have an idea in their head what kind of video suits them best. When bringing a new album to the market for release, artists possess a fresh philosophy on life – It is this, their new-found beliefs, or experiences surrounding their current lives which enable a filmmaker to extract interpretations to reflect in a new story and promote their music visually.
I may not be the right director to make their video. For example, I loathe any music promo that doesn’t have a great story at its heart and what’s more – I refuse to make something that is nothing more than a montage of images thrown together. Their managment often want this and I’m not the right fit to take something like this forward. To be honest, any clown can over-crank the camera, diffuse the lights and have it dance around the talent for a couple of days on flamboyently dressed sets. Most MVs of this nature lack any imagination or flair. Don’t they know we’ve seen it all before?
The best music promos are the ones that make you think for a while after the music fades out and the next one starts. The memorable music videos are the ones that tell a story, are unique or funky in some way and suitably reflect the music track.
For Teenage Spaceman we drafted in a couple of young actors (who were marvellous and thoroughly convincing. We were under crazy deadlines for this and as I write this, some VFX compositing and colouring work is yet to be added to the final product. The version you see attached to this post is an early draft.
Thanks to my excellent camera assistant, Arturo Vilar, who is an absolute saint, we were able to work pretty fast and interchange the Canon 5D Mark II with various Nikon, Canon and Zeiss prime lenses. All the post compositing work was created using Photoshop and After Affects CS5. Incidentally, now that CS5 is 64-bit, my workflow is so much faster. Just the fact that CS5 can now handle native files right out of the 5D2 with ease makes my life a whole lot easier. I was even surprised how fast it exported a H.264 file with all the Colorista work and grading.
Teenage Spaceman was conceived in a very short space of time, but it took an age to get to production due to late availability of our young actor played by Connor Hancock. It left only a few days for post production before the looming deadline. However a heavy VFX workload in post meant the effects weren’t as sharp and believable as I would have wished them to be.
I did have other actors to choose from, but I had settled for Connor the moment I spotted him. He had the perfect face for the role, he was tall and confident looking and possessed the raw, kindred talent that I was looking for. This film is the first time I hadn’t used a tripod. Such was the short period of time we had to get around locations, I used a Steadicam Merlin for nearly all shots. More on that in a future post!