How to Make a Music Video in Three Weeks or Less
We managed to do it (click here), but it was a fast and stressful ride.
"There. We'll shoot on the 15th," Nak said as he pointed at the band's only calendar opening. At that point David Nakabayashi officially became the director of the video, and my blood pressure began its venture to hypertension.
It was the 1st of May, and we had two weeks.
The goal was to have a music video for the band's record release on June 4 which meant it needed to be DONE by the 29th.
The first three days are a blur of locking down two locations, hiring a model and concepting the set and brainstorming simple/cheap costumes.
Location. That was tough. We needed a spot in which we had total control of light where we could crank ear-splitting metal all day. I contacted my buddy Scott at Kimo's Bar and Penthouse on Polk St. He has always been good to the band, and this was no exception. We had our shoot location for the 15th. At this point the idea became a cold reality. We were going to shoot a video for better or worse. BP 130/90.
Location No. 2. Technically, we may not have what one would call "permission." So I will just say that it took a security code and absolute stealth late on a Sunday night to shoot in a very short amount of time. We'll keep that between us.
Model. Nak had a very specific character in mind. We needed an elegant, confident, striking female lead... Who wasn't afraid to stand at a urinal like a man. I immediately hit Craigslist and Model Mayhem. The CL ad brought a cadre of, uhh, interesting "portfolios", and Model Mayhem, after requesting my IMdB credits and filmography, turned me down outright with no explanation. Double Ugh. Lucky for us we were able to find a friend of a friend, Tracy, who was absolutely stunning in her screen test and was willing to take a risk.
Set. Thankfully I had a buddy in the art dept at ILM, Thang Le, who was a great sounding board and a fountain of practical, and cheap, ideas. After brainstorming set dec ideas with Thang, keeping in mind that in Nak's camera test we see lots of ceiling (uh oh).
I mocked-up some quick sketches for our sets (and side notes on costumes):
Pic of Kimo's for set dec reference
Quick lighting sketch based on pic
Bathroom pic for set dec reference
The next ten days were filled with measuring walls, buying light fixtures, breaking fluorescent bulbs, spray painting, tagging, more measuring, renting lighting trusses, etc. In addition to practicing the "video edit" of our song, the band and I scrambled to make sure we had what we needed to transform Kimo's into our set:
Foamcore painted with black gloss spray paint and covered in stickers
Illness banner (converted to vector shapes for large-scale printing) to cover Kimo's ceiling (nearly bigger than my apt)
Light fixtures were spray-painted black so the bulbs would stand out as graphic shapes
Each bulb needed two acrylic sleeves to knock down its brightness and lend it color
(covered bulbs vs. uncovered bulbs)
The morning of the 15th I woke up well before my alarm was set to go off at 6:30am. We started by loading hundreds of pounds of gear up the steps to Kimo's Penthouse at 9am sharp. It took 10 of us just to cover the ceiling. By 11am we had decorated the set, without breaking any fluorescent bulbs, and we were ready to shoot.
The day of the shoot went flawlessly. We had a brilliant crew of people from the ILM art dept and friends who graciously volunteered their time, equipment and patience.
"I loved the energy of being on set. Everyone was really working well together," Thang said.
We had a band that poured its heart into every single performance over and over and over again, and we had a female lead who was on point and well-rehearsed. I won't lie to you and say that those 12hrs of shooting weren't grueling, and didn't test our patience at times, but it was all worth it.
I barely have a clue what Nak went through cutting the video together with the input of dozens of friends and critics.
The video has been online for barely a week now and has received nearly 600 hits. That may not sound like much, but for a small band like The Illness it's metal to our ears. BP 118/76