ASCII by Jason Scott

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On the Onset of Another Video —

I began some work on another music video this weekend.

Have no fear, nothing’s being pushed aside; I just finished all my interviews from my London trip in December 2006 and am now going through the interviews from my very successful West Coast jaunt this past November. I’m currently pulling brilliance out of a pile of even more brilliance that is the Mary Ann Buckles interview. The work is progressing nicely on this, so don’t get worried.

Some general experiences are now coming out when working on music videos, so I thought I’d share. I’ve discussed this subject before, of course.

Probably the most important questions to ask with a music video are:

  • Should this even be made?
  • Does the artist need to be in it?

Sometimes, you just have no need to make a video for a certain song. If you’re lucky enough not to be contracted or under duress to shoot a music video, like I am, then you stop considering it. Not everyone has this option and sometimes I think our craziest music videos come out from people contracted to do music videos who really have no particular love for the song so they just go crazy on the little video itself.

Also, the artist’s involvement may not be needed directly. Perhaps you are doing animation and the song is all that’s needed. Or maybe you use other actors or people on the street and the band never appears. Since for some bands this is their big moment in the sun, they might want to be in it, or consider it a critical point. Other times, not so much.

I then start thinking about these questions:

  • Do we need a story told during it, or is it just a bunch of shots?
  • If the artist is in it, what are they best at? Posing? Dancing? Looking good? Nothing?
  • Are there ways to make the video distinct, notable on its own grounds?
  • Can you do that without dominating/supplicating the artist?
  • Does the artist have a say? What are they comfortable with?
  • What can you steal to make it all work?
  • How much time do you have, for the whole project and the artist?
  • What problems need to be solved now, because they’ll take a long time?

If you’re lucky, you tool around, do some test shooting, try different ideas, see what works. You talk with the artist, show what you got, and listen to the song for any other subtlety you might want to pull from the lyrics. In my case, there’s a lot of trivia I need to bone up on, and a lot of art direction I need to consider.

It’s a lot of fun. Consider having fun yourself sometime.

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