It was this time last month I was commissioned to make a music promo for Renoir, a new signing over at Time Records in Italy. I’d never made a promo for an artist’s debut release before, so I thought it an exciting challenge. They sent over this track, Sky, to me and said they wanted a ‘summer feel’ to it.
I remembered the original version by Sonique back in 2000, but this was completely different. It sounded more ‘Pop/Easy listening’ than the original electronica beat. This was acoustic. Not always my cup of tea, but the track quickly grew on me.
Usually when asked to write treatments for music tracks, a story arrives pretty quickly in my mind. Then, much later and after quite a few plays, other stories and visual scenes emerge. So I wrote down that first story and then thought of a few others before pitching several ideas to the label. The label came back almost immediately with a green light… for that first offering.
What you see in the final version is pretty much my initial thoughts on first listening. I did find myself hoping the label would select any of the other stories that didn’t feature children in them – After all, the prospect of working with 25+ kids seemed a little daunting and I was wondering if I would live to regret my own doing!
You know, it’s like this in my business… The phrase ‘never work with animals or children’ is clichéd to hell. To be honest, whoever wrote that phrase neglected to mention that it’s actually very enjoyable working with both animals and children… It’s just that everything takes significantly longer to put together and to shoot!
From start to finish (including pre- and post-production), the promo took three weeks full time. We auditioned children from four different schools and associations, but they all got along marvellously. Come the end of production, the kids will have made great friends with each other! It took time to find beautiful locations. We shot it over two weekends with the artist, Renoir, flying over from Italy for two of the four-day production.
Renoir and his manager, Alessandro Deledda are great people to work with and everything went accordingly to plan, apart from a rather embarrassing car breakdown on the last day! Oh yes, it’s just not cool to part ways with an pop artist and his manager on a lonely road in the middle of nowhere! They waited for a taxi to take them back to their hotel! (I’m sure they won’t forget their first video promo in a hurry)
I get asked a number of questions about the content of the video, mostly about what is going on and why are some child characters who feature in it unhappy? Why don’t they follow the music as the other children do?
I don’t like to explain interpretation of symbolism in music videos much– For me, they exist to be interpreted in any way the viewer chooses. But I did want to change the original interpretation of the lyrics and replace romance with a more ‘innocent’ – more emotional sensibility. For me, I saw the lyrics as an expression of life and the paths that one chooses through it. Some inevitably will take risks and experience obstacles and setbacks along the way, but with a little perseverance, eventually reach a goal that is their reward for seizing opportunities.
Others will merely sit back and prefer to watch without participating. Fact is, that life’s rewards are won through risk, through trials, through hard work, pain, sweat and tears! Such is life and the cycle of life, the celebration of it.
Renoir’s Sky was released as a single on iTunes 24th June 2011 and is currently being promoted throughout Europe as I write this.
Thank you to Ann Brown and Julie Ashurst for their heavy support in arranging the children’s auditions and management during production. Also to Joanne Venet, Jo Hollingworth and their group for their huge support from Benidorm! The fabulous El Limonar school children, amazing Drama Kidz, and children from Dance Extreme for their collective talents. I can’t forget my camera assistants, Arturo and Martin and all the parents who gave their children the gift of participation and this opportunity.
Well done all!