Lesson Details

Subject: Business

Title: Preparation


Making music videos takes a lot of prep word. Listen to the song, jot down your thoughts, meet with the band, and start preparing for your music video shoot.


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You listen to a song, the melody and lyrics grab you. A good piece of music will take you somewhere, transport you, and create sensations. How do you bottle your impressions and find a  visual signature to match the music?

What I recommend first, is that you lock yourself into a room, and listen to the music. Not once, but many times. Take a notebook or computer, and start jotting down ideas. Write down everything that comes to mind, and don’t edit. Don't think about how much it’s gonna cost, or how long it'll take. Breakdown the keywords, like a song's tone and theme, and as you listen write down any color, impressions, images, and stories that pop-up. Remember: to be truly unique you want to go beyond the lyrics. You want to strive for a new perspective, find a significant song.

Here I’m meeting with a band called Buenos Dias, and this is the first time meeting. I've already heard their music and have some ideas, but before I speak I listen. It’s very important that you click with the band, see eye-to-eye with them. They’re artist too and have strong ideas about the music, so I recommend to ask them: what’s the song mean to them? What’s the song’s message?  What feelings do they want the listeners to walk away with? and what music videos inspire them?  As a matter fact, I asked if there’s any paintings, photographs, sculptures, architectures, that share the same qualities as their music. I sponge in their ideas, so I can stay in sync with them.

High-energy, very raw feeling, unpolished, gritty, roughhewn, is that kind of, am I in the right neighborhood for the song?

The main thing that I hear these guys talk about all the time, is they talk about skate videos all the time, and that's when I talk about like the song is frenetic and woozy I think of skate videos.

The song is fairly quick, so I think it's important that like the video moves quickly.

I want the audience to feel, what you're feeling, put them in your shoes, so the cameras going to be really intimate. Maybe we'll start the video with you guys come in and setting up for the performance.  We’ll do the performance in a gritty 16mm reversal film stock look. You guys feel good about where we’re heading with this?

Let’s make this video.

As you know, there are many music videos that simply show the group or singer performing on stage to an audience or to a single camera lens. I thing this is one of the most economical ways to approach a music video. The trick is to make yours distinct, and that's where imaginative filmmaking comes into play. The way you shoot it, cut it, the colors colors or special effects all play a big role.

You approach this like a short film. Introduce a character, place him in a situation is laced with conflict or discovery, take the audience on a journey. Most story driven music videos have a relationship with a song. Meaning the story’s carried by the music and the lyrics. The key thing to remember here is to keep it simple. Don't overpopulate with many characters or locations, otherwise you’ll have a difficult time during principal photography.

For many of you this will be your first music video, so stick to two or three characters, and spend the extra time to cast people who can act believably. You can also have the option to mix a storyline with performance in a parallel action.

Once the band gains your trust and agrees with the concept let's jump into the types of equipment you'll need to make a great music video, and that's next.

© Michael Rosenblum & Lisa Lambden 2016