This project began with a meeting with Matt Williams who is one half of Little Bird (the other half being Rachel O’Hara), a Perth based acoustic pop duo. We caught up over coffee and chatted about Little Bird’s music video to be.
I was keen to be involved with what Matt (and Rachel) were looking to do, we got along easy and thus began our working together. Now that the clip is finished I will say making Until Tomorrow’s music video has been a genuinely fun creative experience. Matt and Rachel are super talented musicians, Matt is awesome on the guitar, Rachel has a freaking amazing powerhouse of a voice (even live singing on the street) and they are writing some really great catchy tracks. Hopefully in the future when they are all famous and stuff I can say I worked with them!
The basic premise for the clip was for it to feel quite natural and although heavily featuring (and introducing) Matt and Rachel they weren’t going to be “acting”. More doing their thing, playing, singing, recording, hanging and walking around a bit. The aim was to show their progression from busking in Fremantle, to writing songs together, recording and finally playing original gigs together. So I suppose in a way it’s a bit of a semi-autobiographical piece. I really liked the relative simplicity of the idea and felt that going for a flowing, handheld at times almost documentary inspired approach to filming would be the way to go. However I opted to shoot much of the clip in slow-motion, for the look, but also to help smooth out the handheld camera work.
The first snag I hit was that the finale of the clip was going to be footage from the live EP launch at Indy Bar and I would be in Margaret River at the time. So the director (me) wouldn’t be present for the first shoot.
It was always going to be a two camera shoot and DP Shane Piggott was able to be there but I needed to hire someone else in to stand in for me. I recalled Kaylee Higgott (Production Designer/Art Director whom I worked with on Absolution) had posted the cinematography reel of Tanya Voltchanskaya on Facebook. She had a lot of live music photography experience and I really liked her work. Fortunately for myself and Little Bird she was available and she did a brilliant job. Thanks to Shane and Tanya for getting such great coverage on the night, gave me a lot of solid options the edit.
The EP launch took place a few weeks before we shot the rest of the clip. Matt and Rachel had already put together a timeline for the video, sort of a what would happen where in the song, the locations and a linear narrative. The plan remained largely unchanged and is more or less what has been executed in the final cut.
What I needed to do was get my head around the visual style and approach to shooting. We spent a day scouting the locations together and then I went through the rough guide for the clip (from Matt and Rachel) making notes on key shots and actions for us to capture in each verse and chorus.
I didn’t storyboard or do an exact shot list. The music video was supposed to not feel ‘overly produced’ so I felt the approach needed to be a bit loose too (so long as I was clear on the visual style, made some rules for myself and shot accordingly).
After location scouting and making notes on the visuals I scheduled the shoots (two days).
Everything was shot handheld on a Red Scarlet with a Zacuto shoulder rig; except for the live shoot at Indy Bar which was shot on two Canon 5D Mark III‘s for their lowlight ability and relatively inexpensive hire cost.
The first shoot on the ninth of October was a long day. We started before sunrise so we could capture some very early light footage on the Queen Victoria St bridge, then walked around in Freo while the sun was still relatively low. We spent a good few hours in Fremantle filming Matt and Rachel singing to camera, busking and walking around. In the afternoon we filmed the guys singing, playing and song writing at the Cottesloe Civic centre.
The next day we filmed the opening scene at a house in Mount Lawley. The alcohol on the table isn’t setup, that was actually left over from the party the night before. From there we made our way to Blackbird Studio in Osborne Park and spent around three hours shooting Little Bird “recording” Until Tomorrow (this is where they recorded the track). Finally we finished filming in Hyde Park (one of my favourite places).
The two days were a hard slog shooting on my own with the Red on my shoulder all day. But there was a feeling that we we’re all in sync working together and enjoying the experience (although Matt and Rachel were pretty shattered doing gigs both nights).
Going into the edit I knew I had plenty to work with, but that also made the edit quite a time consuming process.
Due to the fact that I wasn’t working off storyboards or precise shot lists I tended towards over shooting. If a location was cool I kept shooting multiple takes. This gave me options, but also made the edit take a long time just fishing through the footage so I was clear on everything I had. It would have taken a full day just to watch the footage back and take notes on it (I had near two hours just from the live gig).
Over on the next month (Roughly a week and a half FT) and a few sit in editing sessions with Matt and Rach, as well as some email feedback from online drafts we finally arrived at our final cut. The focus in the edit for me was getting the pacing right, keeping things moving and flowing between shots, maintaining interest, without chopping too quickly.
In keeping with the project not looking too slick/overly produced I didn’t want to go overboard with the colour grade. I wanted it to look a bit vintage without having an over the top fake Instagram look. So instead of leaping to Speedgrade I did all the colour grading in Adobe Premiere with FilmConvert. It selected my film stock, and made levels and exposure adjustments on individual shots, no denoising and used 100% grain for a more realistic film look. I had a great time working with Matt and Rachel on this, thanks for the opportunity guys. Enjoy the clip.