The 1st Music Video: Commission to Completion


What’s up friends. Thanks for giving me a few minutes of your time yet again. Today I want to talk about music videos. Aside from an album, they’re probably the most anticipated part of being in a band. Unfortunately, they’re also one of the harder things to pull off well. However, if you and your band are willing to work your ass off, you can create a nice product that doesn’t cost too much. Let’s start by talking about what you need to make one.

You’ve got a band, so we’ll skip that. Next you’ll need someone who can shoot (maybe more than one), someone to direct, someone to light the shoot and someone to edit. That’s the bare essentials. That list can be way bigger but if you’ve got at least that, you can pull this off. If you’re lucky, you might be able to find someone who can do all 4 of those, but you need someone who can do all 4 of those well. Lighting makes the difference between a good idea and a good idea that looks great, and in my opinion, there is no person more important than the editor. A good editor can work wonders on even the poorest film.

If you don’t know any of these people there are several ways to find them. First, look at other bands in your area who have music videos and ask them who shot theirs. If there are none (or they all look like crap) try posting an add in a classified. You’d be surprised how many young filmmakers will be interested in working cheap to build their portfolio. Lastly, find your local film school and reach out to the students there. You may find people there who are just learning but they will have access to all the equipment they need and will need to film projects for their class and future.

If you’re fortunate enough to have multiple options (who will work for the money you have) you can ask them to write treatments. You and your band will then be able to choose which story line you like best and of course work with that director to modify the idea if needed. It’s important to research the directors past work though. Many times directors will write a treatment for a video they’d like to make, but that doesn’t mean they can make it. If you have your own idea, or only one director to work with, you can develop the treatment together. It’s important to note that a music video is a work of art created with another artist so make sure that the directors ideas are part of the end product. If they are not excited about it, you won’t get the best product possible.

One important note about treatments. It is extremely important to make sure that any actors you want to hire for the video can actually act. Bad acting in a narrative scene will ruin an entire video. This also means that if none of the members of your band are also actors, then none of you should be acting in the video. You don’t have to make a movie. A well shot band performance makes a great video as well and in general, you’d rather have the end product look great than try to do too much and have it all look cheap. A good director will have ideas that can add to it as well. Ethereal film work can be done anywhere so it doesn’t have to cost much and it can add a lot to the finished product.

Once you have your treatment picked you and your band will likely need to do quite a bit of work helping find a location and of course getting gear to it. Be sure to be early and ready to work hard. The filming process will take longer than you expect and when you’re exchanging money for sweat, there is no such thing as being a rockstar. Get ready to work.

Of course, none of this matters if you don’t perform well, and this is going to be unlike any performance you’ve ever done. To begin with, you’re going to be acting like you’re playing while also trying to listen to a recording of your music being played back from the other side of a room. I can’t stress enough the importance of a playback system loud enough for all to hear. If you don’t have professional dead cymbals, you can double stack your cymbals which will deaden them considerably. You will probably still need to hide a monitor somewhere close to the drummer either way though. If you’re the singer, get ready for a hard day. Your mouth needs to match the lyrics perfectly and I’m betting you don’t sing along to your own album often. You don’t have to fake it if you’re not comfortable either. You can sing at full volume just be prepared that it’s going to make it that much harder for you to her playback.

The most important thing to tell your band is that every member needs to perform like the camera is on them 100% of the time. Chances are even if they’re not directly on camera, they’re in the background and if they’re just standing there, they’re ruining the shot. Bring it like it’s your last performance ever, and yes, you’ll need to film the whole song a bunch of times. It’s not unusual to do as many as 20 full passes plus closeups of individual members.

If you do all of that and have a good editor, you’ll be happy with the final product. One last piece of advice, if you have to make a choice between spending money on a location or props and spending money on a good camera and lights – choose the camera and lights. Best of luck and post your videos here! I’d love to see them!

Here is the music video for the song ‘… And Hell Followed With Him’. This is the 1st music video created for Jason’s band IKILLYA.

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One thought on “The 1st Music Video: Commission to Completion

  1. Pingback: ikillyaofficial | IKILLYA OfficialIKILLYA Official

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