Some Video Direction Tactics

Hollerado | Americanarama

Hollerado | Americanarama

Some Tactics to Consider while Making Music Videos

1. Think remarkable. Write a concept that is easy to sum up or make a remark about. Imagine people saying "It's the one with the Mentos in the soda pop!" or  "It’s one where the guys are dancing on treadmills!" People recommend work to their friends and colleagues that is easy to describe. 

Fleet Foxes | The Shrine

Fleet Foxes | The Shrine

2. Remember what music videos are for. The first approach is a performance video. Performance videos help fans put a face to the music, and to better understand it's context. Simple and beautiful performance videos are being shot guerrilla-style by La Blogotheque, Southern Souls and Live in Bellwoods for next to nothing. The second approach is the is the narrative video. The video interprets the themes or the story of the song through live action narrative or animation. These music videos act as silent films. They are a stand alone pieces that people will share even if they aren't feeling the song. They are also eligible for submission to film festivals. I recommend choosing one or the other, instead of trying to do both. Note: The majority of the music videos since the beginning of time have tried to do both.

3. Music videos live and die by the track. Cee Lo's Fuck You already had millions of hits when it was a simple text video. Anxiety about the career of a band succeeding or failing based on a music video are baseless. Relax and try to make something wonderful for your fans to cherish. 

4. Choose one concept and explore that idea to the end. Avoid the kitchen sink approach. It's expensive, and makes the clip harder to describe when people are recommending it. A filmmaker might start doubting their concept's ability to hold attention. (Note:  Audience's are more patient than we give them credit for especially now that the medium has shifted away from the hyper-noisy television, to the mostly text internet.) In such cases we can be tempted to add layers of filters, alternative art direction, or a flurry of cuts to the make the clip more interesting. These paths lead to an inconsistent vision, and feeling that the clip is "average" or "boring".  

5. Post the video to either Vimeo or YouTube and allow it to be played and embedded everywhere. Turn off front roll ads. They don't pay much and they abuse the small amount of permission a viewer is giving you when they click on your link. 

6. Share the video link with a core group of bloggers you know have supported your work in the past. If your video is great, the bloggers will appreciate your contribution. It's hard filling a daily blog.

7. Don't stress about the number of hits. Having a video go viral is thrilling for the ego, but less important than making a clip that will be beloved by a smaller, committed group of fans. 100 million hits may have made Rebecca Black a household name, but it didn't make her many fans. Not the right kind of fans anyway. The loving fans that will continue to support her career three decades from now. Focus instead on engagement. Are the bloggers we care about discussing the video? Did the band receive offers bigger shows and tour support? Is the video helping to define the zeitgeist of the era? Are fans downloading and sharing the song?

Note to bands planning videos...

If you are a musician, and have a detailed vision for your a video, you don't need a director. Hire a producer and a talented cinematographer instead. Describe your vision and allow the experts to help you execute it.