You might be interested in this blog if: You’re a My So Called Life fan, you liked or didn’t like the clip and wanted to know how it got made, you’re a Perth or Western Australian… or Australian… or Earth based band or artist wanting to know how we collaborate with bands, artists and musicians on music videos and what the process can entail.
THE IDEA TAKING SHAPE
This clip began with myself meeting separately with Anthony Cormican, Chris Reeve and Mike Nayar from My So Called life and discussing various ideas. Everyone had cool ideas, but we hadn’t come up with anything conclusive that we all agreed on. Then one day Mike e-mailed through the idea of a guy building a shrine of photos etc and smashing it to pieces. Everyone liked the idea and we moved forward from there.
In an early version of the idea the band wasn’t going to be in the clip, nor would the story elements featuring Daley King and Amy Murray. They would only be seen on the projector. We decided it would be far more engaging, entertaining and emotional to have the band in there. It wasn’t until after shooting Daley and Amy (and being happy with the results) that I was convinced that they could and should be seen more than just on the projector.
Originally the footage of the couple was going to be ‘real’ I-phone footage, selfies and that sort of thing, but I didn’t want them to come across as narcissistic hipsters. I felt that a guy taking the time to set up all these pictures and flowers, edit the footage and play it on a projector and then smash them to bits would have to be crazy if taken in the literal sense. So my contribution to the overall idea was, let’s make it more metaphoric/symbolic. These are his memories and this whole scene is what he’s going through internally, not literally – even in music video land. My So Called Life agreed and we had our concept.
Shane and I knew a location in Nungarin three and a half hours east of Perth that we thought would make a great setting to shoot the band and the shrine. We decided early on that we wanted the band and the shrine in the same or similar location. They are shot in the same shed/hanger but from different angles. We scouted, tested lighting, got some pics and videos, showed the band and we locked it in.
Mike discussed with me the kind of look he was after from the actors. I scouted a few different actors and Mike picked his favourites in order of preference. Daley King and Amy Murray. Fortunately for us, both were available and both were friends about to travel to Malaysia performing in the same play! Coincidence indeed.
We shot the band first on the 21/12/2012, then the story elements on the 10/01/2013 – edited it for playing on the projector and shot the shrine last on the 13/01/2013. The shrine and band shoots required hiring additional lights, jib (mini crane) and dolly (Thanks to Shane for organising). The story elements were shot bare bones, just the camera on my shoulder with the actors and Mike Nayar in tow around Perth.
THE BAND SHOOT
We arrived in the late afternoon and got equipment set up. We had to wait for the sun to go down then shot mostly straight through from about 8pm – 1pm. We started with wide coverage on the JIB, then various dolly and slider shots, and finished with some wilder handheld work. For each take/shot we went through the song the whole way. As you can imagine this was pretty tiring for all involved but everyone just kept going without complaining.
Daley, Amy, Mike and I got together in the morning, hung out and discussed what we wanted to do and see in the video. Then we started trekking around Perth to different locations to get snapshots of the characters life and ending as a couple. Mikey and I agreed there are plenty of music videos around with forced or terribly acted arguments and felt that it’s often the sweeter memories that evoke the most pain. So the clip isn’t just arguments. We wanted the ‘breakup’ to take place on the beach with the sun streaming through. It’s quite a romantic setting and we thought it would be visually ironic. Daley King and Amy Murray were both excellent sports and gave us great performances in a very limited amount of time with minimal prep. Thanks guys!
Three days later we were back out in Nungarin filming Daley. We went later than the band shoot (till around 3am… mainly due to a thunderstorm with a heavy downpour that lasted on an off for about an hour). It was a slog for the first half of the shoot. Slowly but surely we got the shots. I think I was a little underprepared on exactly the shots I wanted early, the angles and whether they would be JIB, dolly or handheld and fortunately the crew (Shane co DP and Steve AD) kept pushing on and helped me to focus on directing.
Setting up the shrine was the slow and painful part but once we got through that and started shooting super slow-motion the shoot got very fun. Daley seemed to enjoy obliterating the shrine he’d so carefully and repeatedly setup. He must have set it up a dozen times so we had different angles of it. Anyway, he has quite a swing. We finished the shoot exhausted but exhilarated because we felt we got the goods in the can… lollies were eaten.
My first cut was very story heavy as I struggled to let go of some of the story elements that were in the video I cut together to play on the projector. Many music videos have the band rocking out and a story. However we had the band, the story plus another layer of story. So it was a balancing act getting it to a place where everyone was happy. There’s a domino effect. You take something out for another shot and it makes something else not work as well. We kept refining it until I was happy and the band was happy.
For the colour grade I consulted closely with Chris Reeve (drummer) who works in motion graphics and as an editor on the side himself. I experimented with different looks but didn’t want to stray too far from the source material. I’m of the opinion that there are a lot of clips that are ‘over graded’ and look dreadful. (There are plenty of heavily graded clips that look great too! But I’m not a pro colourist as my speciality and we didn’t shoot this in raw which allows for much more flexibility in post… We now have a red scarlet and can push and experiment with grades a lot further with that camera.)
I gave the memories a vintage look (which worked with the handheld style) and also added some finer film grain to the band and shrine shots. They just felt like they lacked texture compared to the memory shots, too clean looking.
(It’s a shame the compression is so crap on YouTube as you lose a lot of the detail in the image including the grain. I may upload to Vimeo in the future and make the source file available to download)
So in closing;
From a film makers perspective music videos are a heap of work but a heap of fun to make (hopefully for the band too). If you’re a band, or musician, or artist in Perth, Western Australia, Australia, Earth, or Dalkeith and your interested in getting a clip made, consider getting in touch with us. We’re interested in your ideas, in collaborating and telling different stories in various styles.
Thanks for reading.