The act of establishing a visual context is key to a well rounded, creative endeavor. If you think of it this way, you set the stage before even physically arriving there. Before the first concert. Maybe even before a whole body of work has been released.
A visual backdrop can clear a path for a long and interesting, musical project. It can also inhibit the flow of expression, though, working against the music and aesthetic.
Several members of the ForTunes team have gathered their amount of video- and shooting experience, so we collected some ideas that might act as shortcuts along your way.
Like always, these are just freely expressed thoughts on the craft. Every project is unique, so are the experiences and learnings amassed. What we all share is the craving for an idea. For uniqueness, most the of the time, and a medium that opens a corridor of conversation.
Be it through music alone, or through a symbiosis of music and sound.
So let’s start with a simplification that might help you out:
An interesting way to think of music video creation, and managing the input- and output of what is conceived, is thinking of the process as 3 possible realities:
Reality one: Your budget establishes the video. This reality is quite rare among DIY musicians, as most of them run on very low to no budgets. But for some artists this actually works – the budget is so immensely high, that they can afford visual experiences (or they just burn through the budget, which happens quite often, sadly) that really set the bar. Look at Donald Glover, that’s a prime example of one individual using incredible budgets to realize exceptional works of art.
Reality two: Your idea establishes the video. This reality is a very fortunate, best case. Your idea is actually so strong, that even a low budget and raw production can work its magic. Everything starts and ends with the idea. This can hardly be estimated in cash value, as great ideas are transcendent. Searching for the perfect idea is definitely worth a long, hard thought process, and may take time.
And when we’re talking about great ideas, we’re not talking about strictly narrative thoughts. This can be a special aesthetic, or an event, or only one image. It can be the way you frame your imagery, basically the way you break from the norm.
Reality three: Your sensibility establishes the video. This point is actually quite subjective, so bear with us for a second. The scenario being, you don’t have the budget, and you don’t have the idea, but you need the visual so you need to whip up something. What’s extremely important in this case, is your sensibility of what is enough, what needs to be communicated. This means – trying to go for understatement most likely beats trying to reach the stars and crashing horribly.
Let your sensibility lead the way, or work with somebody that you trust that knows what is enough. Great ideas will materialize, but they might need time and you just have to let them happen.
Invest in logistic
When you’re running on a low budget, you really have to think about where your resources are
going to flow. Do you have the cash to rent equipment, a location, enough the pay the team, the catering (IMPORTANT)? A key to creating solid videos is establishing a new world for your viewers. This can be based on complete normality, but you have to elevate them somehow.
A great way of doing this, is by investing in logistic – meaning travel and remote location scouting. If you keep your team set-up minimal, maybe even in a duo-constellation with DOP and director, you can lay out your strategy to be mobile and flexible. If you refrain from working with extensive, artificial light and equipment, you can invest that into travel costs like flights and hotels. You will be able to capture otherworldly experiences, just by showing whats out there. Obviously, the setting has to match your overall musical aesthetic, but that’s a given.
There’s no one out there with guarantees for anything. Even with extensive planning and resource involvement, things can just slip under the radar, it happens, it happens A LOT.
So – make sure the process is fun. Set fun first. For everyone. You want this experience, the symbiosis of different art forms, to last as a well-rounded memory. Of course, there will always be stress involved. But the only thing you can really control is the level of joy you perceive during the process.
More often than not, this lightheartedness will also be visible in the final, creative output. The people you work with will enjoy the process of creation, and you will build collaborative relationships that last. IF the process stays positive and motivated by fun and an optimistic mindset.