Music Video Making: Myths and Realities

It starts with either of the two: “I want a music video” or “I want to make a music video”.

They sound alike but the approaches are considerably distinct. One is about self-investment while the other about the very sense of realisation of someone’s dream. No I’m not getting philosophical; this is all in real a part of the (often) rough realities of film making.

Where does the money go?

Musicians: If it’s your money that’s going to pay for the video, then it’s probably hard earned and you desire to get the best for your buck. Of course in this economic condition, you would not want to shatter your bank balance, so spending as little as likely is also a common reality for both individuals as well as large-scale businesses. You meet a production team, you notify them what you desire, they give you a price…and you drop off your chair – “How Much?!” For a first music video this is something we face quite often.

Your cash will be spent on:

Pre-production (ideas and planning),
Production (filming)
                                                                                         Post-production (editing).

Each area needs a proper amount of attention and, yes, money. Pre-production costs would cover meetings, location spotting, treatment(s), etc.; all of which need time and precision. Production costs will cover the location(s), crew, props & gear and Post-production costs comprise of editing, levelling and possible VFX. When you will give it a thought, it’s all about your £’s need to extend very far.

Film Makers: This is something you would need to be especially cautious about. When making a video for a client, you can avoid later financial difficulties by citing a very sensible number. A good way of bypassing this is not giving a final number directly away and instead going away and crunching the figures you know and studying the ones you don’t, if you need to, give an educated approximate, but keep it clear that’s what you’re giving; they’ll understand. You don’t have to break the charges down exactly for pre-output, output and post-production BUT conceiving about each area means your bases are covered, you don’t desire to have an additional expense after a client has paid. Oh and don’t overlook the component in editing cost per day, that can easily be unseen.

Self-funded production: Had an idea in your head and now you want to conceive it in real? This is considerably distinct to working for someone. You are your biggest follower and greatest detractor; you understand what you desire and what you can get away with not having. Even though there isn’t the time consuming element of making somebody happy with concepts and proposals but there is the added element of endeavouring to save more money as it will be costing you money rather than of making it, so be careful getting deals from associates and contacts; you may only be adept to use them one time because when you believe about it your £’s need to stretch long.

Make sure your eyes are as big as your mouth

Musicians: I get it, the sky’s the limit and you desire your aspirations to become reality through a superstar production company. You want to be bobbing in space that slowly evolves into you hurtling through the air crashing and into a prehistoric earth. Great concept, and if you have the cash to pay for it; truly incredible! If you don’t; then possibly you should narrow it down a bit. What’s significant to this video? What adds the most to the recital? There are few things poorer than a creative person trying to get more than they can pay for, it’s lengthy for the artist to try and the production business to interpret. Certainly you could represent the contention that if this video does well then you will be back for more but to be real, every production company hears that! You can compare it to going into an office and asking somebody to do their job for a week without getting paid.

How do you solve this problem? Easy. Revisit, review or redevelop. What this means is you narrow away the more costly components, find one visual element from the initial concept and base the new notion round it or start from scratch and slowly work towards the budget.

Film Makers: For a client you need to be able to deliver what you offer. Sure I am a firm believer of pushing yourself and even sometimes doing certain things that might scare you; if you know what you’re doing you’ll find a way. Although, if you offer an epic battle between two super powered beings across countries and deliver a school-yard scrap then that reflects awfully on your abilities and your integrity. Have the right people for the task, have a frank discussion with the client; if you are not 100% certain (yet), at least have a Plan B.

Self-funded production: If it’s your own stuff you have the luxury of knowing what you can pay for and if it comes to it, knowing what can be rejected can allow you to prioritise the most significant things. Perhaps filming a scene at a record shop is logistically too tough; perhaps that identical scene can be recorded on film in a kitchen? No one will know what’s been altered if they only see the completed merchandise and a large video with compromises is always better than a bad one that doesn’t hit the mark.

You get what you pay for (unfortunately)

Musicians: You want your video to be huge, of course you do! You’ve had these dreams of what the final outcome might be for a long time and now you’re taking the first step towards that dream and begin publicising your music on another grade. You just don’t have the cash. Now that’s not to state your dreams can’t be a truth; you may find someone who loves your track so much that they will help you go the extra 10% to make your video with the assets they have. You could even find a young up and comer who will make your video for pennies to use as show-reel. Both conclusions are a likelihood. Although, what is a more expected possibility is that people will ascribe what a video charges because A – it’s their job not their interest and B – if you’re not giving for it who is? Furthermore if you find a young up and comer they’ll probably lack the know-how to deliver in terms of quality, which isn’t inevitably an awful thing, as it is how we all started out.

The truth is wanting much more, but only being able to pay a little means that gear, locations, cast, crew and all the other elements will furthermore be lower and/or inexperienced and in this industry only when you pay for quality is when you’ll get quality.

Film Makers: You love the track and actually desire to make the video a reality, great. understanding the dangers is still important. You’ll be working for free while not making money in another place, if you’re squatted pretty for a while then fine, but if you have the similar financial anxieties as the rest of the homeland then it’s best to make sure that it’s worth it – the best thing about the creative industry is that in most situations it is. Making deals and calling in good turns is habitually simpler for a project that people are fervent about. Factually, there may be agreements and favours you will only get once but you have to trust your judgement and wish it’s worth it.

Self-funded production: As for your own production, all of the above possibilities are to be considered with additional concerns of sponsoring it, making the risk component three pronged. You also have the supplemented bonus of having an individual stake in the output, giving you additional drive and passion (and probably desperation) to get it done well. Yet another bonus is that you understand what things cost and what you can get away with without taking the piss, recruiting the best people you can afford and in some situations better!

Another precious recommendation: If you are not paying people well, then at least be certain to feed them well!

Written by Tai Campbell, Creative Director at Epik Music Videos – London based Music videos production company:


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