You remeber making those silly music videos with your friends? The onese where you laugh so hard you can't breath. The video you made you friend where a wig. That video where you and your friend were rock stars. . . even if for only for three minutes and sixteen seconds.
My history with music videos, from my awkward middle school days till now, has been incredibly significant in my growing as a filmmaker. I had a conversation with a friend who is also a professional. I told him I loved working on them. He laughed. Not at me, but at his own experience. In his past work on music videos (which includes Taylor Swift's Bad Blood) he found there was a lot of work with little pay. Hours and days spent on a project that doesn't always get credit for being art. Unfortunately not every music and video mash up can come out like Beyonce's Lemonade.
After talking to him, I wondered why I had a love for them. Even as a kid I had always enjoyed making homade music videos with friends (but usually by myself). What is enjoyable about music videos?
I think for me, what makes music videos some of my favorite jobs is three things. . . Pace, Sound and People.
Pace, is basically the rate at which a video moves. Every shot and every edit has a pace. When it come to music videos you pace with the music. Easy, on to the next section of this blog, right? No. Seriously why would I even mention it if I wasn't gonna elaborate? Usually when I'm about to film a music video, I have the song on repeat for hours and sometimes days. I need to find the pace, because I need to be able to naturally flow with the music. This immersing with the song is one of my most enjoyable things. I get to daydream with this song and let it tell me what the video should look like. A little film school pretentious, I know, but it is how I feel. Without this time I wouldn't be able to do the video justice (that's just what I believe). When shooting, there is a lot of it that can be planned ahead. You have your basic shot list, but if you have a moving slider shot, that shot needs to have a particular pace that fits the song. If you're just cranking a slider along without pacing it out to the music, then stop shooting and listen to that song another five times. To me, if you shoot with music, you have to feel the music.
Sound, which means I HATE GETTING SOUND. Music videos sound (the ones I have worked on) are a sigh pf relief because you are not recording audio of people talking and making a scene. You're getting sound to sync with the song in editing. I am not a sound engineer, and don't have a talent for that. My sound editing comes from hours and hours of trial and error. Sound people deserve a round of applause all their own because that is one of my biggest struggles in film. There is so much that goes into recording sound; you have planes, traffic, air conditioning units, house lights, screaming hobos in LA, screaming children anywhere, and just the overall ambiance of life. Life is not silent. So trying to film in life and get clear audio is a tiresome job all its own, before even yelling action. Ultimately, I like the ability to just run around with a camera without getting clear audio. But that's enough about me.
People, because working with other artist (either than be musicians or other mediums) is like hanging out with a cousin. You have similar understanding of art, but how you come to love it is unique. Now, I have not had a lot of drama when filming with musicians. There were tense moments, musicians yelling about a sunset, others frustrated by multiple takes, and me realizing the terminology "more energy" is all I need to say. . . Despite these tense moments they are easily forgotten when you and the musician have that one take that was magic.
When you film a music video, you both are performing together. Musician and filmmaker. You are working together with what they love (music), and what you love (film), to produce something everyone wants the world to love. I am a firm believer that music can be more powerful than words (I'm sure my writer friends are outraged). Music communicates so much with so little. Music has played an important role in my life. I remember that perfect on the radio and created a beautiful summer memory while driving with friends. Piano music playing so softly in a quiet room changing how I view the world. Hearing an old song that is intertwined with a lost love one and you just have to cry with joy.
Though I believe music alone is powerful to the human soul, I also believe it works best with film. Neither music or film need each other, but the individual artistry is heightened when those two create together. Together they can spark creativity, help you get back up after a hard day, or laugh uncontrollably. Music videos bring up humanities greatest and deepest emotions in just 2-5 minutes. To me, it's worth long hours for little financial reward.
I also never worked with Taylor Swift or Beyonce. . .