Here is a behind-the-scenes recap of my latest music video "Damn Your Eyes", which was unofficially produced for Alex Clare.
Back in September, I got the production itch since I was tired of working on videos that were not my own. It had been two years since I've actually produced a video and I needed to get back on the horse. Recently I had been directing and editing a few short films and music videos, so it seemed like the right direction to continue in.
So I messaged my DJ friend Oscar, and told him to send me new music that I would like. One of his suggestions ended up being Alex Clare, who a couple of weeks earlier had uploaded a new song to his SoundCloud page. It was "Damn Your Eyes" and it was captivating. From the low hum to haunting lyrics a story unfolded in my head that I not only connected to, but revealed an inner struggle that's a reality for some people. With the song on repeat I began writing an outline around the idea of a guy trapped in a relationship where he's basically a slave.
With this golden ticket, I started putting together a production book and kept notes about how I wanted to shoot it. I spoke to coworkers and friends about helping out with the production. A director I knew even told me that I could borrow her equipment. Over a couple of weeks I set a production date, picked a crew, collected equipment and settled on shooting in the studio and in my apartment.
As for actors, I had posted a casting notice on ModelMayhem.com, but the response was not great. I originally wanted an interracial couple, but couldn't find the right set, so I abandoned the idea. Soon after, I got a message from Kessler Phoenix. We met in person and he had the look, so I picked him to play the male lead. I will state that being excited about an opportunity is always a good thing. I feed off of that energy and it makes me want to work with you.
Finding a female lead was a little more difficult. It was random and awkward and a lot of people couldn't meet me in person. I hate casting blindly and I've been burned by it before, but when Brittany Warrington sent me her portfolio she had enough online work that I felt comfortable casting her.
With the last stone in place, I ran a few errands with my brother (the assistant director) and felt pretty good about the overall production.
Day 1, we shot in the studio at my office. We started an hour late which made me nervous, but once we got rolling things began to gel. Alex did a great job with make-up bringing a sexy evil look to Brittany. Using the dolly we started with the opening shot. One of the things I think I need to work on is warming up my actors. Getting them comfortable before the cameras even starts rolling. Maybe a pre dinner or a shot of jack would help, but after a few takes things felt better. One of the tricks I picked up from shooting models is that I often act out what I want them to do. It gives them an example and it makes me look goofy, which lightens the mood.
Day 2, was on a Saturday and things went better than expected. We shot in a couple of different rooms in my apartment and tried to switch up the angles. My camerawoman is short, so she's able to get into tight spaces with the Canon 5D and get great shots. My actors did an excellent job and sold the relationship. Kessler looked depressed as hell and Brittany had a great time playing dress up. I think she ended up switching outfits six times. The shoot wrapped up early and I was very grateful for everyone who helped out. Brandon and Anna took excellent notes on which shots were the best. William kept the dolly rolling smoothly. Nick was the man and got the studio set up in no time. Jenni kept the mood light. Katherine and Shauna did a great job capturing the action with the still camera. Jillian and Ishu's support helped make all of this possible. LA was able to get the lighting I was asking for. Alex brought an extra level of magic to the characters. Melanie's composition made each shot interesting. Joshua's input was the gold to my silver. Kessler and Brittany's eagerness and patience was truly appreciated as we did our best to keep things moving. It was a team effort.
As for post production, it took us a couple of weeks. Rob was my editor and I explained my vision and gave him my notes. Being an editor myself, I felt it was best to step back and let his creativity guide the train. Rob's coloring skills and sense of motion tied the storyline together in a smooth visual way. We had our differences, but I think we came up with a solid end product that we could be proud of.
I definitely learned a lot this round and I'm totally counting this one was a win, even if I don't ever hear from Alex Clare. Nearly 2000 views in one month. Hell yeah, that's winning! Plus, I'm already looking forward to my next production in 2012. Cause even if the horse kicks you in the face, you gotta get back on it at some point.