Welcome to our first instalment of our three-part series on making our debut music video, ‘Love Sick’. Here we go behind the scenes of deciding how and what to film and how we pissed off some recording studio owner along the way. Here’s the links to Part 2
and Part 3
of the series.
MTV is dead and the internet killed the video star! Music videos have always been an important part of any single release especially these days with major websites such as YouTube and easy access to technology such as video cameras on mobile phones. But that means any Tom, Jack or Harriot can make a music video. No longer do you need a budget the size of a small country’s GDP to get a music video together, and that my friends, is good – because like most unsigned DIY musicians, we’ve got a total budget of zero!
It was Ash who first came up with the idea for filming a video. He said: “Listen, the rehearsal room we play in has a stage and its just been redecorated. Why don’t we book out the room and film us playing? We can knock it together and stick it on youtube.”
It was hard to disagree. So all we had to do was choose a song and book out the rehearsal studio. Choosing the song was pretty easy, we picked a track from our forthcoming album that was already close to being finally mixed. At the time of filming we were still in production of most of the tracks on our début album. We settled upon ‘Love Sick‘, which we’d already got roughly mixed for our demo CD. Also it’s probably the ‘punky-est’ of our songs, which meant that it lent itself well to our first attempt of video making. In all likelihood our first attempt at filming a music video was going to be a bit slapdash, rough around the edges and held together with safety pins… but decent enough to get the message across (which are similar excuses that punk uses to define itself).
Here’s the basic setup in the studio for part of the filming. Rory is getting his kit together and Ash is geting all ‘New Romantic’.
Despite operating on a zero budget, we still wanted to make the best video we could given our limitations. So, we got together and did a bit of research and did a half-arsed attempt at a storyboard. Like anything, the old cliché ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know‘ rang true, so Ash got on the blower and got in touch with some old friends: Paul, who had a lighting rig, a smoke machine and film gadgets, and Russell, who had a van, a projector, some coloured lights, a disco ball and some rum. Lenny got hold of his mate Gaith who had just bought a digital video camera and twisted his arm to come along and do the filming. Even with its newly decorated walls, brand new carpets and new electrics, the studio space looks a bit drab, so Lenny and Ash decided to get a few props to decorate the room. Tim booked the studio space and we were pretty much set to go.
We jumped in the van and set off to our trusty rehearsal space: Brickhouse Studios in Portslade, Brighton. We booked our usual room which is on the top floor and began unloading the equipment. It’s surprising how much space a lighting rig, projectors, strobes and disco-lights take up. Everything was going well so far. Although like anything and everything, there would always be a few problems to overcome.
Firstly the new camera that Gaith had brought along was a lot smaller than the picture of it he’d seen on the internet. It’s a Sony Action Camera AS15. Basically its smaller than the palm of your hand. As its name suggests it’s used for ‘action’, so it’s designed to be strapped on to helmets of snowboarders, skateboarders, cyclists, para-gliders and the like. The good thing is that it has a very steady film capture – to compensate for erratic movements – so that means the shaky, nausea-inducing ‘Blair Witch‘ camera style wouldn’t be a problem. However what was a problem was that the camera was so small that it didn’t have a view finder, which meant that we couldn’t see what we were filming. So it was going to be a bit hit and miss trying to determine what was in shot and what wasn’t. oh well…
The other apparent problem was the smoke machine. Our lighting and effects guru, Paul, was a little bit off-his-face, and the smoke machine was being a touch temperamental. Navigating his hallucinations, he decided to attack it with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers. The result was that he could get it to bellow a large amount of smoke, and then it would cut out and cough out spasms of faint clouds of soot, like a dying old man with a terminal chest infection. Anyway we left Paul downstairs in his world of haze trying to fix the smoke machine and we decided to carry on without it.
For anyone else interested in making a music video, it’s essential to get various views and angles which can later be stitched together in production. That meant filming us playing the track over and over again using different angles, sometimes shooting the full band, other times focusing on band members. Also, we didn’t want the audio from the filming on the final mix; the final video needs to be accompanied by a final, polished mastered track – so that meant we needed to pump a copy of the song through the PA and we had to mime to that, enabling us to sync it together with the music in post production.
After the madness and magic of the first night’s filming session, our camera man, film producer and video editor, Gaith, stands at Portslade Station and stares down the line in to the dark night beyond.
Gaith had read about a technique in filming that was used in the ‘Evil Dead‘ films – this complicated technique involved strapping the camera to a stick and using it as a boom to get better camera control and crazy panning movements. As the camera was so small we managed to raid a bit of wood from the studio and try out his technique. Of course it had no viewfinder so we didn’t have a clue what the footage would look like.
Anyway, as we played through the track and did our first practice shoot, we came across another problem: the assistant manager of the studio, James. No sooner had we started filming when he appeared at the door staring at us with a face like a bulldog licking piss of a thistle.
You see, James had spent the last few months redecorating, recarpeting and rewiring the entire studio. He’d kitted out the recording room with new equipment and generally poured his heart and soul into revamping the place. It just so happened that he was driving past with his parents in the car after a nice family meal when he noticed a large cloud of smoke coming from the building. All that TLC he’d put into the studio was going up in smoke! He came running in, in a panic and found our lighting and effects guru Paul, who by know was a little bit more off-his-face than he was before, and had somehow managed to get the smoke machine working extremely well, but couldn’t turn it off. So the entire ground floor of the studio was flooded with smoke, with it belching out the doors and windows.
Now you’d have thought he would’ve been relieved to find out it wasn’t an actual fire, but his anger was abated when he charged upstairs and found his studio space had been infested with a mass of lighting equipment, projectors, strobes and half the band smoking in the room (which is banned). It turned out when Tim booked the studio, he neglected to tell James we were going to be filming. James spent half an hour describing to us how we were ruining his paintwork with the smoke machine and how he felt angry and betrayed by us.
We didn’t care.
We just wanted him to shut up and piss off so we could get on with the filming. Tim was extremely apologetic and said ‘sorry’ so many times that each further utterance of the word sorry managed to erode the sincerity in its annunciation. Rather strangely James decided we could continue to film, despite his annoyance, on the proviso we vacuum-cleaned the entire studio before we left. So James left the room, then promptly returned with a tatty hoover, then left again – in a cloud of smoke (from the smoke machine).
Anyway we got on with the filming. It turned out to be quite a laugh. We did several takes of us miming along, individually and collectively, then Gaith got us to do some weird running down a corridor, forcing Lenny to hump the wall, making Tim walk like a zombified Thunderbird and pouring water over Ash’s head. All of this was in slow motion filming as his camera had a slo-mo setting. Rory, who had just joined the band, needed a bit of loosening up, I don’t think he quite knew what he was letting himself get in to… the Dog’s life an’ all.
After filming, we uploaded all the footage on to a laptop that we’d brought along and as this was the first time we had seen any of the footage we didn’t know quite what to expect… it turned out to be quite awesome, especially considering we didn’t have a viewfinder on the camera. But then we would think that wouldn’t we! Old school filming. We packed up and then left (after Tim hoovered the studio – cheers James… you knew that vacuum cleaner only had a small nozzle, it was like painting the wall with a toothbrush!).
A music video, if its going to be more than half good, needs more footage than the band playing. There are loads of videos out there that just have the band playing instruments along to the track… dull as chips they are. So on the way back Lenny and Gaith were inspired by the concept of Ash’s lyrics and the vibe of the song. Quickly it was determined that we needed to do more filming……
Watch The Video
Here’s the offical video for Love Sick. Watch it through to the end for best results. Share it and let us know what you think. We love to hear your feedback.