This won’t be a tutorial, but I thought it would be interesting for some people to know how I work in general, and especially for my latest music video “Daydream”. A lot of people imagine, it’s all about having a “good camera” and a “nice looking model”… but reality is another story. It actually is quite some work for an independent filmmaker like me, to be handling everything on my own, which goes from styling to makeup, to recording, directing the actor, uploading the video files, editing, exporting & sharing them online.
There’s a lot of things I have to take care of in the process of making my projects, I could get help for sure, but the thing is I’m a total control freak and totally hands on everything. Even when I do work with other people, I’m on top and checking all that’s going on regarding the tasks. I also believe this is the best way for me to learn, since I kind of dropped out the idea of going to a film school, being on the set and having to deal with all kind of different issues, making mistakes, is what forges my knowledge and helps me towards my future activities. I take every day as a learning lesson.
For this particular music video, during the “pre-production” process, I did stylize my muse by finding the most appropriate dress I could come across, to set the mood, kind of flowery. Also made her a quick & somewhat light makeup, it was mostly sparkles, apart from drawing a line above the lashes, and three little stars on both her temples. When that was set we went in my garden, I was armed of my Leica V-Lux camera and a tripod. It is really important to have a tripod with you when you go out like this, filming outside, because best believe your camera is pretty sensitive (so is the focus) and you can’t have surgeon-like steady hands, plus there’s gotta be winds, so this will all participate in shaking up the picture & it won’t look nice once you play back.
It’s also good to know what exactly it is you want. This is actually the most important part for a Film Director, it is your job to “direct” people on the set, and that means you know what you need and how to get it. People out there will be listening to you, and if you can express as clearly as possible your thoughts, it will be very helpful for filming what you want, and a good way not to waste time. Time is also crucial, because people’s best performances are when they aren’t tired and unfocused. The more time you spend wondering, filming multiple times the same scene, the more you are gonna trouble your video project.
I myself never do as much as two / three shots of the same scene. I usually go with the first one, but sometimes that does not work out for all kinds of reasons, so I name my #1 test shot, I then go with the #2 main shot, and I make a #3 security shot when I am not sure of the outcome the “reel” is gonna get once uploaded on a computer, where I’ll be able to see the details better. The reason why I don’t have to make more than three shots max. for every scene, is because I always kind of know what I want, and when I don’t I just follow my guts and keep it going. I do not carry around paper sheets (if I have an AD – assistant director – they do), because it’s bothering me, it can be a waste of time and becomes irrelevant as I film since I will change my mind on the set about different angles for the camera & what not.
It’s not so much improvising as it is checking back with reality, the things you imagine for your projects aren’t always doable, or end up being the best fit. You gotta prepare for all kinds of scenarios, incidents, and roll with it. I will memorize the day before, what it is we’ll be working on the next, and that way I pay more attention to the moment. If it is a short film I’m making, I usually do have an assistant director, because it’s more responsibilities, and I need someone to double-check and help me out with the little things that might slip my mind, dealing with more general points. An AD can also give good advices, especially when they understand what it is you’re trying to do, they sometimes express suggestions; but if you’re an AD, be conscious that Film Directors have big egos (I’m an example of that), so be polite and not pushy, or you could get fired from the set. I did fire two people, both from different past sets.
I am not known for being someone patient, filming brings the roughest part of my personality, it’s only when accidents come up, or when lunch time is there, I’ll give everyone between 5 to 15 minutes break, and then we’re back on. So if anyone needs to pee or something, they do it while I’m not needing them… perfect time for that, is when I’m checking the “reels” on camera, making sure I got them right & deciding what will have to be re-done. But it usually works out just fine. I mostly am very considerate of the people I’m working with, and try to choose those I know will stand and enjoy my projects with me.
When the “production” part is done, comes the worst… “Post production” is by far the most annoying. This is when all the final works are made and it takes the longest time to come through. I dislike it a lot since I am the one who generally has to deal with it, I feel like it’s a huge waste of my time… I’m spending hours editing (which I know barely anything about since my thing is filmmaking), and sharing that on my social media websites, making sometimes even additional bonus contents, such as BTS / outtakes / making of videos, or movie posters / stills / on the set pictures etc… I always feel like “I could be filming something new instead of dealing with this whole “post production” mess”, and it frustrates me because I have many projects I never get to come in making.
To finish this long post, I will talk some more about my involvement in the music video with my muse. As you can see in the video above, she was barely doing anything if she wasn’t told to do so. This is what directing is, guiding the actor throughout the whole thing, especially if they are amateur. Unprofessional actors are not at all a bad thing, I prefer working with those, since many “pro” actors went to schools or had acting classes, so they are not so much natural as they are following what they were taught… which goes more flawlessly sure, but I like “modeling” my actors. As an artist, this is also how I show the reality, the way I see it.