For this post, I'll be using an example from a music video I directed for my brother (Red Rose) to walk through the process of pre-production and the shoot itself. EVERY production is different, but hopefully, the insights I share can prove valuable in yours. Let's get into it.
The magical phase, where, if you're diligent, can set you up for success during the shoot. Filmmaking is like life, in that, it's not really about if something will go wrong, but what, and when it will, and how you're going to deal with it. I start every production whether in concept or pre-production by praying to God for wisdom, and committing my work to Him. "Commit to the Lord, whatever you do, and He will establish your plans." (Proverbs 16:3)
As I stated in the intro, all productions are different, so all pre-production will look different as well. There are some aspects that apply to all projects that I'll be sure to highlight as I mention them.
BUILDING A TEAM
Every music video requires a crew. Whether that's 1 or 20+ people all depends on the concept and how it needs to be executed (and realistically, the budget). For Red Rose, I wanted a simple solo performance and a dance routine done in one take on steadicam with coordinated lighting transitions.
I had been talking with my brother about shooting the video for a while and had plenty of concepts floating around in my head. It wasn't until I was saw an opportunity to shoot at NiCHE event space in Boulder, CO, that I settled on the concept and built a treatment around it (for more on treatments see Making a Music Video Part One).
Next, I searched for a dance choreographer, which we found in actor/dancer, Mia Marina. I then reached out to Chris Roe who operated for me on Return to Sender, to fly steadicam for the day. He brought along Max Green as his camera assistant.
Other members of the team consisted of my brother and artist, Osaze, his wife, Resa who was a production assistant (and emotional support to Saz), guitarist, Nik Close, the dancers Ayla, Takesha, Stephanie, and Mia. My younger sister, Anais, operated the lighting transitions, and my wife, Stacey was the BTS photographer.
I was the director and director of photography (DP) aka cinematographer.
A note on crewing up:
For the smoothest production possible, I highly recommend letting the department heads (person proficient in a specific field of production) pick the people they're comfortable working with and hire them as crew.
If you're intent on piecing crew together yourself, they had better be professionals or have a good working relationship together (preferably both) because in a Frankenstein'ed crew, you run the risk of early miscommunication and personality clashes between members trying to figure things out under stress of the shoot.
Most people I've met in production are well composed and perfectly nice, but I have worked with difficult people. In order to avoid offenses and reduce chances of a technical mistake, be sure to allow prep time for the team to get comfortable working with one another before the shoot, OR let the department heads build their teams out the gate.
I'll be writing another post about networking and building connections in the future.
This may seem like common sense, and that's because it is... for the most part. Scheduling is a simple thing to do, but you need to find ways to be efficient when coordinating multiple people and their schedules. Personally, I dislike the tedious nature of scheduling and would rather hand it off to a producer or assistant director to focus on the creative aspects, but out of necessity, I've become adequate at getting the right people to the right place at the right time.
In my opinion, coordinating schedules is all about eliminating variables. For Red Rose, it started with the artist. We picked a date range we wanted to shoot, then looked for a location. I spoke with the owner of the NiCHE event space and we locked in a date that fell within our range, about a month and a half out. After confirming the time and place, it was time for the "who". I called Mia and asked if she could get a routine together before the shoot date. Her schedule was tight but she agreed and got it done.
I made sure scheduled enough time with the owner of NiCHE to allow for camera rehearsals and blocking on the day of so that our camera team could just show up and do their job without having to meet before. As the DP, I took a walkthrough of the space in advance to scout the layout and plan the lighting. My brother came with me so he could get a feel of the space too.
Once your team is built and your date is set, you can pat yourself on the back and get ready for the fun part.
Make sure to drink lots of water and get plenty of rest leading up to the shoot. You need all your energy to bring your best, and when you're directing, you need to make sure everyone else stays in line with the vision, and brings their best too.
In the next post, I'll be going over my favorite part of making a music video -- actually shooting it!