Filming A Narrative Music Video


  In one way, producing a narrative music video is easier than making one which lip syncs. Mainly because you don't have to worry about lip sync. If you're doing a narrative music video you don't need to worry about how the artist will hear the song as you shoot them on a windy day outside on top of a lighthouse.

However, shooting a music video in this style is the same as shooting a short film. If you're looking for high quality for a 3-4 minute music video with a story, then expect to spend at least a couple of days shooting it.

The past week I have been working on a new video with my family. I do things like this from time to time. I write a song, have no budget, so decide to be in it and then I have to enlist my family to become camera operators, drivers and lighting directors for a few days. It's hard but in some ways not having a budget and being able to do it over any length of time, means I can really focus and concentrate on how it all looks. I can even film one day, edit a bit and then realise I need to re-write some of it or write an extra couple of scenes. It's quite liberating in an age where you don't have time to spend.

For this music video I decided to write the story as a journey. The main character sets out on a journey and I wanted it to feel a little mystical, a little bit fairytale, a little bit epic.

So far, I'll be honest, I don't have the epic parts filmed yet (dear me, I only wrote them yesterday!)

The two days spent filming we were shooting two parts of the story:

1) Where she sets off on the journey, following instructions

2) Where she starts to dream or see something that is to come, which is in fact her end point

Filming the bike scenes

If you don't have jibs, tracks and dollies, a car is a brilliant way to shoot moving people on a low budget. My dad drove the car, my mum monitored the monitor and Kevin filmed, sat with my mum in the boot of the car on a quiet deserted road on a Saturday morning.

The large drawback of using a DSLR for this kind of filming is the focus on mediums and close-ups while moving is a nightmare. We managed to get a few usable shots though and the wide was great. We did this handheld but in retrospect I would suggest using a rig of some sort to add even more stabilisation. I have used the Merlin Steadicam in the past for these type of shots.

Filming the dance on the beach

Saltburn beach was cold and windy. The sky was overcast, not the warm golden tones I had planned for. Even when you shoot at the right time of day, in the UK especially, the clouds can kill your lovely golden hour.

We realised as soon as we set foot on it that this was going to be a little bit stressful. The tide was all over the place and at one stage the camera bag nearly got soaked in a fast and vicious wave. Because of the uncertainty of the tide (check tides when filming near water!!!) we all felt rushed and it was hard to remember all the shots. We also had to use the tripod to make sure the shots were solid and professional but because of this we lost a few close ups that we might have got with a rig.

For the scenes where she dances with a man, I changed to a vintage 135mm lens which has a more dreamy, softer look. For everything else we used the 24-105mm zoom.

This story has a long way to go, but it's a story I want to tell and I'm really excited about being able to experiment and take my time getting it right.