361MC: – Initial idea for Little Rag Doll

With the band, Six Broken Sticks, now confirmed and the song that would be made into a music video set, the long task began of crafting an initial idea based on the themes and tone expressed in the song. After a discussion with the band we all agreed that it would be best to make the video very macabre and dark in nature as the song moves through passages of being slow and paced with mildly suggestive lyrics alluding to themes of submissiveness and control. The song is masked in an already macabre and mellow sound and so the video obviously had to match the song. With the song’s namesake of ‘rag doll’, we knew we wanted the element of control and the effect of someone controlling another person’s movements or actions like a puppet master pulling the strings.

My initial idea for the video was to have the entire music video as a narrative, with no shots of the band, and almost having it as a 3 minute short film with music. Based on research, most rock music videos I have watched contain both elements of a narrative (although sometimes the story may not be easily definable and may just be a series of seemingly disconnected shots which add to the mood) as well as shots of the band performing the song. Understandably, Six Broken Sticks were adamant that they themselves wanted to be included in the video as it would also be serving as a media device to further advertise and broadcast their band in order to gain more notice and a greater online presence. With this in mind, it became apparent that the video had to contain both elements in order to serve as a successful music video; fulfilling all of the requirements for the benefit of both my FMP and for the band’s media networks. This will therefore result in a two-day shoot; one for narrative and the other for the band segments.

The concept we had in mind for the narrative and band shots were for a girl to enter an apartment looking distraught and almost in a catatonic state, throwing things around the room as her anger builds. She brings out a voodoo doll and begins to use increasingly dangerous implements on it; such as pins, rope, knives etc The video would then keep cutting back to the band holding up the various implements during the video and then to the girl reacting to each one, looking scared that she is being controlled by this elemental force. As the song builds and crescendos into the finale, it would become apparent that the girl begins to enjoy it and revels in it; mirroring the control and submissive themes from the song in both the inanimate doll and the representation of the girl as a physical manifestation of the doll. It would also keep the video very dark and disturbing with the content and underlying themes which is the macabre feel that the band and myself want it to be.

This is obviously a very early concept and the idea is likely to change but this is just the first idea myself and the band have come up with.

361MC: – Where do music videos fit in today’s media world?

Today’s media world has easily changed from what it was ten years ago. With everything now trending towards an online basis for both commercial and distribution reasons, television (whilst still being prevalent) has taken much more of a backseat role in this new media world than what it used to from the 1980s until the mid 2000s. Since the launch of Youtube in 2005, this enabled music videos to be seen faster and easier; as well as online video in general. With this new online platform in place, these videos could be spread among a network of viewers which greatly added to viral popularity and thus reaching more of an audience, both for the music video and the artists’ material.

As Youtube continued to expand and evolve over the following years, this had a profound effect on the music industry for good and bad, with some artists beginning to see the prospect of success from their material and music videos being seen mostly or entirely online. Although on the one hand this could be seen as a means of free advertising for the artist as their music reaches people on a global basis at the click of a mouse, it has also his still led to many distributors clammering for royalties and exercising various copyright claims based on videos that have reached a huge number of views whilst being available to view on the internet free of charge.

With the internet constantly growing and more and more new media applications cropping up every year, music videos have now been able to be purchased on the iTunes Store for viewing on handheld devices such as iPods and mobile phones. To also ensure that money is still made from online posted music videos, it has been seen in recent years that more and more adverts are included in and around the video player. This allows the video to make a certain amount of money through every advert that is played, and with many music videos reaching the hundreds of millions of views, this is an effective way of maintaining profit. Websites such as Vevo which was launched in 2009 also share this advertising revenue with Google on their Youtube distributed videos.

As such, although music videos have been an outlet for artistic expression and to elevate the meaning and interpretation of a song, they have also always been a way to make more money from a preexisting album and artists and to boost record sales. This practice now seems a lot more noticeable in today’s media world with the existence of all of these online outlets and money hungry corporations vying for any bit of profit surrounding the music they can. To further reinforce this notion of online video hosting taking over television, MTV officially dropped the Music Television tagline on February 8, 2010 from their logo. If ‘video killed the radio star’ in the 1980s until 2000s, then ‘internet killed the video star’ in recent years.

So where do music videos fit in today’s media world in terms of small time bands such as the ones I will be filming? Well, for bands trying to make a name for themselves, a music videos really gives them more of a foothold in getting noticed and reaching a greater audience. Although performing live at any and every venue you can is a great way to get people to notice you in the local area, a music video that can be posted to a social networking page and online video hosting sites such as Youtube is much better way for people to spread the word of the band, as well as give them a much more professional appearance. This is what I will be intending to do for my distribution of my three music videos; allowing the bands to spread the videos around as much as possible and gain as much notice as they can. This will enable my name to be spread around and offer me more of a chance of getting approached in the future for work if viewers are impressed. In this instance, music videos still serve a greater purpose than meer financial profit.

361MC: – Film crew & meeting discussion

Finding a crew to help me film my music videos was a lot easier than I initially anticipated. I have been in contact with a second year from Coventry University, who is also doing media production, called Guy Huston, who I got in touch with much earlier in the year when I was to help film Tony Iommi (lead guitarist from Black Sabbath) at the Coventry Cathedral. Guy said that he had a lot of experience in filming short film and had previously filmed a lot of live music gigs as well as a few music videos in the past. He is happy to help out on all three shoots as it will be towards his professional development and would allow him to add more things to his showreel and list of projects. He also said that he had a team that could help out as well.

I arranged a meeting with him and the other ‘members’ of his team and found that he only had one other person who works with him; Sarah Andrews, who is also a media student in her second year at Coventry University. This proves incredibly useful as my entire film crew will be in the same area as the equipment that will be booked out and all three of us can make our way to the location together. As they are also studying media production, this is incredibly useful as it means they are fully aware of the things that have to go into a production and the typical professional practices on set. As these will be the two people helping me film the three music videos, it became apparent that we’d have to use a three camera set up. A fourth camera might be able to be set up on some shoots but this would have to be for solely static shots and be set up on a tripod whilst the three of us get moving and controlled shots, with zooms, focus-pulls and camera motion. Although there are only three of us, I was immediately struck by their level of professionalism and it quickly became apparent that they had gained a lot of experience filming and helming many projects before. They were also both incredibly enthusiastic which is an imperative quality to have for every member of a production team in order to boost morale when you are eventually on set.

During this meeting we discussed things such as what kind of equipment should be booked out and was taken aback by how much equipment would never have occurred to me to take out. I was a very primitive kind of filmmaker (although I’m more focussed on editing, this refers to the times in which I’ve had to make something on my own for previous projects) and used a very simple tripod and camera set up with little concern for much else. Things like the ‘dolly’ and ‘track’ were completely new to me and it became clear to me how ambitious this shoot was actually going to be in order for it to be of good quality. We also talked about transport, accommodation for the two-day shoot and production schedules for all three music video shoots. As the first location is in Leicester, it will be difficult to get a train with masses of kit as it requires a few change of platforms which will prove even more troublesome. Also, the bus routes will not be reliable to take each of us as to where we’ll be stopping. Therefore, I decided that I’d ask one of my friends who lives in Leicester to drive to Coventry and take us from door to door, whilst paying him for petrol money. This harkens back to the research I have done on how equipment is usually driven to the location of shooting, rather than it having to be clumsily corralled by the crew. As for accommodation, Sarah’s brother conveniently lives in Leicester and so she and Guy will be able to stop there for the two nights, whilst I will be able to stop at my friend’s house as he is at Leicester University.

As I am starting my projects a lot earlier than the intended bracket of March – April for filming, I want each video to be done by the end of each month. As such, we confirmed the 25th – 26th for the two-day narrative and band segments shoot of Little Rag Doll (although we’d arrive in Leicester with the kit on the 24th to be ready for an earlier start to the shoot on Saturday the 25th). Although I already have one other band confirmed; Borderline, they still have yet to record their original song at a recording studio and so this will have to be the last shoot in order to give them time enough to prepare and ready the song. As such, I confirmed the second band’s music video for Bad Mouth Men to be filmed before the end of February. Although this will not give me a lot of time to edit and conclude Little Rag Doll for Six Broken Sticks, I’m considering having Bad Mouth Men’s video to be slightly smaller in scale to account for the limited time between the two shoots. This will then leave the final music video for Borderline to be filmed before the end of March or very early April so that I still have enough time afterwards to edit and complete the video in time for the deadline.

Now that I have a crew and a plan in place, I am a lot more confident with my upcoming projects and believe that the three of us will be able to produce the videos to the best of our ability whilst allowing me to develop my own professional skills working alongside them.

361MC: – Contacting Six Broken Sticks

As I would be producing three music videos, I knew that for ease of travel for cast, crew and the transportation of equipment that the bands I searched for would have to be in fairly close proximity to Coventry. I started the process of finding my first band by seeing which bands my friends were involved in. I initially wanted to film solely heavy metal music videos but the only one that I knew of was my friend who is located at York and was still looking for a few final members to join. As a result, this would not have been a guaranteed band to film and the distance to and from York with a huge amount of kit would have proved impossible to move around, especially via train.

Looking in to the production of professionally shot music videos and big budget films in general, all equipment is transported via a fleet of lorries that can effectively group all of the equipment together for one smooth journey and much of the equipment is left at the location of shooting if it is a production over the course of many days. Obviously I do not own, nor could get ahold of a convoy on this scale, especially as it is a small-scale production, but the point of moving the kit via driving is a definite must.

I knew that one of my other friends had quite recently started a band in Leicester called Six Broken Sticks, and they had produced a small collection of songs that they had uploaded to SoundCloud. After messaging the drummer he agreed to the music video shoot and we spoke about what kit is on offer and possible approaches to the video and what our take should be. It was important for me as director to make sure that this production was mutually beneficial to both me, my FMP, and that the music video was still in league with my vision, as well as ensuring that the video was still appropriate for the band and that they had joint discussion in the ideas generation. Film, even music video, is a collaborative practice, and so I knew it was important to include everyone in the process as I have worked on projects before where someone takes complete and utter control over everything; not taking any other ideas onboard. However, it is also the job of a director to know when to voice your opinion if an idea is posed that is either bad or would hinder the overall creative vision of the piece. Although I have never been a director on a project on this scale before, it will take all of the people and management skills I have acquired in the past to ensure the production runs smoothly.

CALUM CONVERSATION

It was also important that we picked the right song for the video. Most of their songs were around 2 – 2.5 minutes which would not have been a decent enough length for my FMP to be effective. As such there were really only two songs on offer to us, and after listening to both many times, the most interesting was Little Rag Doll. More so than the other song, it really did an effective job of creating a tone and atmosphere as well as offering up some interesting themes which could be applied stylistically. With the song now in place, I can begin to craft an idea and produce a shot plan with time-stamps so that the eventual editing process is a lot easier.

361MC: – Development of FMP idea & the history of music video

Following on from the themes and ideas generation process during 360mc, I decided to settle on an idea to create three music videos for three different rock bands. This idea was altered and tweaked multiple times before the final form of the idea was set. During the idea generation and research stage, I decided to look at things I was incredibly passionate about in order to be completely invested in whatever I would be producing. The 1980s is my favourite decade of all time in terms of all types of media; film, television and of course music. More specifically glam metal, heavy metal and rock. The attitude, adrenaline and overall visual style of the music of this decade is incredibly inspiring to me and also caused much controversy due to the material and images depicted in these music videos or music ‘short films’ in some cases. With the 1980s being an incredibly stylish and visual generation, this was the decade in which the music video was born, with MTV being the driving force behind this commercial giant of an artistic outlet. In 1981, MTV aired its first ever music video; Video Killed the Radio Star, ushering in an age of 24 hour music coverage, making its debut song very prophetic.

With music videos now well within the mainstream, music videos continued to grow and become more and more ambitious throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, with MTV listing directors for music videos, such as Spike Jonze, who after starting their careers in music video would go onto produce feature-length films years later. 1995 would also see the most expensive music video of all time be produced; Michael and Janet Jackson’s Scream, directed by Mark Romanek.

Since this boom in music video popularity, the industry continues to be very successful today and has moved more towards an online basis (more on this in the next blog post) where they are marketed and distributed.

With this concept in mind, my initial idea was to travel up to York in order to help write and record an original song with one of my friends who wished to put together a heavy metal band and then produce a video for this song. The music scene in York is incredibly impressive with many local bands trying to make a name for themselves, with most of them being metal and rock orientated, which would have been perfect when finding bands to film. However, this idea for my FMP was quickly changed after the logistics and time of production were taken into account. Because of the amount of equipment that would be needed for the three shoots, a decision was made to search for three local bands in order to increase the ease of travel. Because of this change in approach to my FMP idea, this left creating ideas for three videos impossible until I had acquired the bands and had listened to the songs they wished to put forward for a video in order to get a sense of the mood and craft some form of narrative.

A month or so after I had settled on my new angle for my idea, I had managed to find two of the three bands I would be using, Leicester band Six Broken Sticks and Borderline; a local pub band who play close to where I live, . As soon as I had listened to the two songs that had been put forward, Little Rag Doll and Juliet respectively, I immediately realised that although I would be producing music videos under the same genre of music, their moods and tone would be entirely different from each other. One has a particularly slow pace to it, dealing with fairly macabre vibes and themes of control and manipulation, whilst the other is a much more loud and chorus driven song which is made to get people singing along to its repetitive hook.

In early January, I had managed to find my final band, Bad Mouth Men, who are a student band in Coventry, who have elements of punk, rock, metal and comedy.

With all three bands confirmed and all of their songs put forward, I was able to start my ideas for narratives and the tone for each of these pieces; thinking ahead to both production and post-production. As editing is my chosen field of media, music videos more than anything rely on precise editing in order to produce an effective mood and pace, which allows the music to really come alive and add a visual flare. This will result in me having to use a significant multi-camera set up for when I comes to shooting my first video for Six Broken Sticks over the weekend of 25th – 26th January. I have two people in my crew who will be helping me film the three videos who have all worked on music video shoots for people before.

In conclusion, this shows how quickly my FMP idea and original concept developed over such a short span of time. Whilst I was greatly influenced by the decade of the 1980s in its attitude in music videos and the revolution of MTV birthing such an industry, this concept was shifted to fit much more contemporary themes and with the angle of being an effective way to distribute on an online basis, as well as for the bands to publicise on their own individual social media pages. It is important for each video to be unique yet keeping to the style and tone of each band, which is something I am going to continue to develop in the remaining few days before my first shoot on the 25th January in Leicester.

Unknown. 2010. The Buggles – Video Killed The Radio Star. Available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=W8r-tXRLazs [Accessed: 14 January 2014].