We are very proud of this music video. It’s much more than that, very special and very close to many people’s hearts. We feel privileged to help bring Tayla’s song and message to the world through the beautiful voice of Katie O’Donnell.
Words from Katie:
“On the Inside (Tayla’s Song – Butterfly Edition) began as a poem, written by Tayla Hancock, who was just 16 when she lost her battle with cancer. Tayla’s words were put to music by industry greats Suze DeMarchi (Baby Animals) and Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme) – which Katie then had the honour of being asked to perform on several occasions.
Inspired by Tayla’s bravery, Katie penned additional verses and a chorus after Tayla’s passing, to complete her story and share her final message of not taking life for granted.”
In honour of Tayla, part proceeds from the sale of On the Inside (Tayla’s Song — Butterfly Edition) will be donated to Variety – the Children’s Charity.
Katie approached us about making the music video to On the Inside in May this year. It’s an incredible song, very genuine and brave. We were stoked to be asked to do it. I must admit, more than on other projects, I felt quite a bit of pressure to do a good job because I knew that this meant a lot to people. It’s a beautiful song and we really wanted to do it justice with a beautiful music video.
The backing vocals are by The Variety Youth choir so from the get go, Katie knew she wanted to have them in the clip. Some of them knew Tayla so it was especially meaningful for them. She also wanted to include images or video of Tayla somehow.
Here’s an excerpt from an email from me to Katie pitching the idea which we went with.
“So the idea I’ve had that I like most so far is you singing in an unfinished house (we would have to locate) with (possibly glowing) pictures of Tayla on the walls. Throughout the song the choir kids one by one make their way into the house as if they are looking for her.
They find all the photos, but can’t find her. So you would be in the centre of the house singing, but we would have kids moving around as the song progresses (probably in slow motion). Having cutaways of them around the house and around you. Perhaps singing with you at the end of the song, or singing in different parts around the house.
It could lend it self to back and white (or a quite desaturated look) but the images of Tayla could be more colourful. Or the clip could have a warmer glow.
I’d want the lighting and composition to mimic some portrait photography, beautiful but haunting. Not necessarily black and white… but attached some pics…”
It didn’t all make it, but the core of the idea remained intact.
Enter Gemmill homes. They were a fantastic support right from the start. They found an appropriate house at the right stage of construction (with a roof and access to power) on the week we would most prefer to film.
I hired a Dolly from Location equipment and a 14mm Canon L lens for wide shots on our Red Scarlet. I decided early in consultation with Katie that we’d shoot at 48 fps (frames per second) with the song playing at double speed. So that when the footage played back at the normal 24 fps she would be singing in slow motion, but singing in time. This is a neat trick that can easily be overdone, but I think was perfectly suited to the pace and tone of this music video. Slow motion allows you to hold on the eyes, on an expression for longer but still feel natural or real. For safety and efficiency on set I storyboarded the shots of Katie singing and of the kids in the house after a location scout. I use storyboards as a guide, not as a holy grail of – this is what you MUST get. I find when I’m on location I’ll often come up with something better, have to make adjustments due to time or weather conditions or realize something I’ve planned just isn’t practical. In this case though, we stuck to the storyboards pretty closely. They were the plan that guided the shoot.
We filmed over two nights. On July 15 we shot all of Katie’s singing shots, minus her with all the kids/young adults. On the 16th we shot all the kids footage. Both nights we were hit by a storm. We experienced 100km hour winds, hail, rain and lots of sand being pelted in our faces. But, it was still a heap of fun and we finished ahead of schedule both nights. Albeit, simplifying the shoot and not getting quite as much material of the kids as originally planned. Kids and parents aren’t used to 1am finishes like film makers, go figure. We had the very helpful Mark Whatley with us both nights who supplied generators for extra power and basically worked as gaffer. Without him the shoot would have been as efficient. The first night was fun, a small group of us, eating lollies, chips, drinking coffee and occasionally filming. It was a bit of a warm up to night two when we would have thirty to forty people in an unfinished house being pelted by a storm. The trickiest shots were dolly shots where Shane would move the dolly in time with the song whilst I would be pulling focus whilst moving the camera trying to keep Katie in focus as best I could.
If night one was the warm up then night two was the race. There’s added pressure when you have a bigger cast on set with different times that they have to leave. There were three key scenes that we put the most emphasis (time and energy) into because we felt they were the most crucial. Katie singing with the kids (which we started with), The group of kids finding the first glowing picture of Tayla, and the kids leaving out the front passage – prominently featuring Tayla’s younger brother.
We lit with an array of lights, a 2k blonde, 800w red heads, soft box’s and a Diva Ring light for select shots including four close ups of kids staring in the camera which feature in the clip. Battling winds and Shane and Mark having to hold gels over lights to keep them from flying off, we wrapped up filming at around 10 – 10:30. And began a long pack up / clean up. We were exhausted by the end, but happy that we had finished WAY earlier then Shane and I had originally anticipated.
The only real issue I had in post was seeing some flickering from the Diva ring light which I hadn’t seen when testing. I think that was because we were hooked up to a generator and the current may not have been as stable. I’ve used it connected to AC since and the flickering wasn’t there. The edit came together fairly quickly. I think mostly because we didn’t over shoot. And we didn’t overshoot because each scene was storyboarded and planned. We did make changes and come up with new shots on the day but not a huge amount.
The first draft was probably 80 – 90% the final product minus glows and grading. Katie was happy (Yay!) and before long we had our cut nailed. I graded the footage in Red Cine X and and Filmconvert, a plug-in for after effects and premiere (and stand alone application) designed to emulate film and does so beautifully. It actually mathematically matches the way different cameras sensors read colour to different film stocks. Simple enough idea, amazing results. Filmconvert brings a richness and texture to the image that’s often lacking from digital material and is especially helpful for people like me who do colour grading and enjoy the process but it isn’t their main thing (like writing and directing).
Seems as though we are doing more music video’s nowadays. Thanks Katie for letting us come on this journey with you.