This week I was asked by a classmate to direct a music shoot for an artist, Ben Clements. I only had a few days to prepare which was a challenge. So I made sure I had a chat with him beforehand to understand the vibes he’s going for and the stories and messages behind them so I could correctly convey his style in an aesthetically beautiful way.
Ben writes his own music about real issues that he experiences, and sings them with emotion as he feels the sentiment he created them with.
After having a chat with Ben on the day, I found out that he was told to plan 3 songs! This was news to me. So we had him in one position, a couple lights and 4 cameras. To make it even harder the songs were all quite similar too. I actually enjoyed this challenge because it required me to think on my feet and be as creative as possible within the confines I was given.
My overall vision for this shoot was for it to be super emotive and evocative, and really, the most manipulative element was the lighting. So I got Ben to sing his songs in order of the most light-hearted to the most melancholic song, and made the lighting progressively more contrasted to really evoke a sentimental feeling.
Critical self-reflection time!
At times it was hard to keep my focus solely on the talent.
We had 4 cameras surrounding Ben (dolly, jib, 2 static cameras on tripods on different angles) so it was difficult getting to all the cameras. For the first few takes I wanted to make sure all the cameras were framed nicely and the moving ones were panning and tilting slow that matched the slow pace of the music. I know that’s the job of the 1st AD but I didn’t communicate with him enough about my specific desire for the looks. So a cameraman picked up on the fact that Ben wasn’t looking at the cameras enough, with my split focus I didn’t pick that up which I should have.
Overall it was extremely fun, I feel like we got the best out of Ben and he volunteered some feedback and said he felt super comfortable with us. Of course that’s such great news for me because if the artist:
- Is comfortable and
- Gets ‘lost in his music’ and
- We capture it
I’m slowly getting more comfortable shooting music videos as I do it more and have scouted another artist to shoot who’s a good friend of mine and a brilliant singer who actually got through a few stages on X-Factor. I have found some students to help and we’re going to go through the stages of pre-production planning, production and editing. My purpose for this is to just PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE and also get my friend an amazing music video that will compliment her emerging career and hopefully get her some coverage. I plan to be DOP because that’s what I want to practice and get perfect. I want to be a cinematographer and work across to being a screenwriter and director.
I found some quotes that both motivate me and teach me something:
My three Ps: passion, patience, perseverance. You have to do this if you’ve got to be a filmmaker.
– Robert Wise
A film is – or should be – more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.
– Stanley Kubrick
And Later I Thought, I Can’t Think How Anyone Can Become a Director Without Learning the Craft of Cinematography.
– Gus Van Sant
Pick up a camera. Shoot something. No matter how small, no matter how cheesy, no matter whether your friends and your sister star in it. Put your name on it as director. Now you’re a director. Everything after that you’re just negotiating your budget and your fee.
– James Cameron
If I don’t practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.
– Jascha Heifetz