Well, you have made it this point. You are googling about how to film a music video. Shooting music videos is my speciality! Well, it’s where I cut my teeth. On the surface, music videos may seem like a simple thing. Press record then play the song while having the artist dance around and perform the song with a sparkler in their hand. Yell cut! Throw it in Imovie and bam! El Fin. Quite the opposite. This blog about filming music videos will be your best friend and save you so much wasted time making mistakes. I was the one with the sparkler in their hand, so you don’t have to be.
Preparation is your friend. This step will be a huge time saver. Storyboard with the artist to plan out shots and film locations. Know where you want to film. Scouting music video locations will set the tone for your video.
Understand that you need the music video location to reflect the mood and feel of the song. Do you have a country song about horses? Don’t film it downtown LA in front of a graffiti-covered wall. Vice-versa don’t shoot your rap video on a horse unless you keep the horses in the back.
Your location availability will vary based on budget. If you have a premium budget sky is the limit and resources such as https://www.peerspace.com is a great place to find what matches your budget. If you only have a freemium budget, you must get creative.
Finding places to film a music video for free in your area can be niched down to what your music video location requires. And adding your location plus “photography spots near me” in your google search, this is a good starting point. Reach out to the smaller bars/restaurants/performance venues on their off days and barter with them for credit in the video. You would be surprised how many people will tell you yes if you ask. 10 No’s and one yes makes the whole cringe cold calling method worth it when the video comes out. I highly recommend meeting in person. I was 10x more successful in securing a location when I went in and spoke to the owner and showed respect and courtesy.
When you have obtained the music video location, you must assess any barriers that will hinder your filming. Will you be in the middle of the woods? Know that you won’t have electricity. You need bug spray, water & food for the cast and crew. The last thing you need when making a music video is a case of the hangry, basically on-location filming pack for a camping trip.
Filming your video
In a quick changing art form music videos require a level of production value to hold people’s interest. It’s harder now than ever to keep people’s attention during the age of the internet. To do so requires constant stimulation. You can achieve this by utilizing a variety of shot lengths.
Extreme wide-angle shots help set the landscape of the video, establishing the story within the video.
Close up shots help establish the focus of the video, which would be the artist.
Variations in between this will be shots to help tell the story.
from extreme wide-angle shots to extreme close-ups just on the eyes. It is good to experiment with these shots to establish your style with filming. Also experimenting from different angles as well. But my warning: some may be more flattering than others.
Understand the music
As the music video videographer, you must spend time understanding the song. Knowing what the artist is trying to accomplish and portray through this video. Spend time with them and let them explain how they want to express this through the video. This is the step where you have to be delicate and focus on helping the artist feel comfortable to give the best performance they can. I think many people overlook this part of the process. Stage fright is real, and the way we get the artist to give an honest performance is to establish the space for them to do so. We are making music baby not filing taxes. Smile and enjoy the process.
Don’t be a tripod. Creating movement with the artist using a gimbal such as the DJI Ronin-S which I recommend is something that adds excellent buttery smoothness and production value to a video. Using swooping shots and following your artist’s movement and cues add a lot.
The last thing you want to happen is sifting through footage looking for a particular shot, and you are searching through a hundred different files titled 0001-0100.MP4 Organize. While filming, I always create a folder on two separate external hard drives. (I make a backup copy) I will title it with the name of the music video. I will create a folder within that music video folder titled with the name of the camera I used for that day. I film with the Sony A7III. So the file is titled “Sony” & my drone is the Mavic Pro 2, so I title that separate folder “Mavic”. I will then add another folder titled with the date and time. This step is helpful if I filmed multiple days for one video. I want to be able to quickly search through day one and get that gorgeous sun flare that I caught. Once I am back home and cosy with the footage. My first step is to go through the footage within those files and establish which length of shot they are. Wide shots, medium shots, side profile, extreme close up etc. This time investment pays for itself 10x over once I am editing the footage in Adobe Premiere.
The most important step
Have fun filming. Music videos are the cherry on top when it comes to filmmaking. We are not filming a corporate talking head video. We are making music, baby! Remember to enjoy it and be dedicated to making the best video that you can! Let me know if this was helpful or any more tips for anyone filming their first music video!
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