Music Video Tips #2

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Just as it was with advent of the video age, modern day artists rely heavily on video and image content to “show” more than “tell”. That’s the beauty of video; it’s dynamic and more exciting than a photo or text. Artists have been using video to showcase themselves for many decades now. The Beatles did it 1964 on Ed Sullivan before MTV, Score Composers alongside animators did it before as early as 1937 with “Snow White”, and really, all major artists have done it before, during and after these times. You tube changed the game, and then came other standards like Vimeo, Instagram, Facebook, and dozens of other platforms, all of which feature video platforms and Live Stream features. Given all of these technological media advancements, it’s crucial for Artists to get in line with the times and utilize video as a way to promote themselves.

Here are some tips on how to get started, and how to ensure that your project runs smoothly:

Cut Costs

  • Video production is an expensive endeavor almost any way you splice it. You are either buying the equipment yourself and learning how to use it, or you are hiring a crew with their own equipment. You need to pay your actors, purchase props in some cases, cover legal paperwork costs, etc... The expenses all add up. To save money, there are several things you can do. Here are some ideas.

  • Location: Film on private property owned by friends and associates. Permits are expensive, and can sometimes take time to acquire. Using private property saves time and money. If you can get away with filming on public property (something which can require permits depending on where you shoot) go for it, just don’t get caught. Citations issued are a waste of resources, so if you do film on public property be sure to do it quick, and perhaps at a time when there will be less people present.

  • Costumes: Nothing beats free. If you are using actors who are equipped with their own wardrobe elements, encourage them to dress from their own closets. In my video production based on the Tarot, a lot of the aesthetic is pagan / renaissance faire leaning, so I get actors from within those communities, and 99% of the time they show up more well dressed than if they had gone out and purchased something new for the shoot. A person’s wardrobe will almost always be more finely tuned to their personalities than if they are just given something to wear. It depends on the kind of video you are making ultimately.

  • Legal Paperwork: Contract fees can add up, and depending how many people are involved in a project it can become somewhat cumbersome debt-wise. A trick I use to cut costs in this department is to compound contracts when possible.. If one actor is to appear in multiple videos, then have all of the videos included in one contract. This ties back into the idea of pre-planning, from the previous blog, Know who you are going to want, and when, and from there you can find ways to generate less paperwork (and save money!). One other practice I nurture, is paying a one time fee to have a template made that can be used for other future projects. If you do that, just make sure that none of the fine print has slipped between the cracks. Things like exact payment amounts, actor names and personal information, locations, etc. Just have a solid idea of what your terms of business are, and stand as true as possible to honor them from shoot to shoot. Revisions and edits add cost to most projects, so be aware of your drafting. Make sure to spell and grammar check, reread it several times before having someone do the same, and again, know and honor your terms. Given a little bit of slack, some people will take a mile and start asking that you create a new contract just for them. Tread lightly, because legal work is not cheap.

Take Care Of Your Crew

Your crew is the heartbeat of your project flow. The videographers, actors, editors, and all of the other living components you employ are at the core of the final product. Take care of them the best you can. Simple things, like providing bottles of water, making sure to have snacks or a meal ready for break times, ensure that you are mindful to schedule breaks - especially if the shoot day is long, or if the weather is extreme (mid summer / mid winter). Know your budget, and be sure that you can pay everyone in accordance with whatever agreements you have made in a timely and complete fashion; bonuses and perks are always a plus as well. If you are a band or musical artist, little things like a few free tickets to your next show are nice gifts, or project keepsakes such as extra video props, and even a framed photo from the day shows that you value your team. As far as social media goes, everyone these days has some form of platform or account that they use to share from their lives, so take lots of production photos and be sure to tag, share, and/or link everyone to the project promotions.

Wrapping Up

The skills it takes to run a successful video shoot are not all that different than the process of recording a song, or hosting an event. It all comes down to preparation, crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s, treating people well, and being mindful of all the small moving parts. Energy and resource management are key. As long as you remember that, you will find yourself at the helm of many great project experiences.

Till next time,

Be well.


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