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Valentine – Drew Nelson Music Video.

So, here it is: My first ever attempt at producing and directing a music video. I had almost exactly zero experience with any sort of video production prior to this project. Yet, I acted as casting director, costume designer, concept creator, set design, art director, producer, director, editor… you pretty much name it. It was also shot on a shoe-string budget… and, when I say shoe-string, I really mean shoe-string! The entire project took about two months to complete, and was shot over a period of two days in October of 2015. My lack of experience, along with the limited time we had to put it together, the limited budget we had, and all other things considered, I don’t think the final product completely sucks… but, I’m not overjoyed with it.

I was asked to take on the project, and I kind of freaked out — not really in a good way. I had no experience; I didn’t know what I was doing — not a clue. And, I didn’t want to be responsible for delivering a terrible product. But, at the same time, I was interested and excited about jumping into a new avenue of artistic creation with which I had practically no previous familiarity. Eventually, I had pretty much made up my mind to decline the offer — the fear of failing and ending up with a steaming pile of crap due to my inexperience and letting everybody down was too much. Then, I thought “Well, wait a minute. It doesn’t have to be Hollywood-good. It has to be Ottawa-good. And, I think my artistic sensibilities might be enough to allow me to be able to pull that off.” What I mean by that is: This was a shoe-string budget project — nobody’s reasonably expecting something with the production values and slickness of the latest Double-Platinum selling recording artist video. And, that’s what I was judging my presumed abilities against — I KNEW I couldn’t pull that off — nowhere close.  But, then I realized that nobody was likely expecting that. If it ended up not looking as slick and well-made as the latest, say, Beyonce video, nobody had any justification for complaining. The only thing that could be reasonably expected is that I deliver something that is as good as it possibly can be compared to other projects given to the same limitations. That wasn’t quite so scary. So, I let it be explicitly known that I had no real experience doing this sort of thing, and that I couldn’t promise that the end product wouldn’t completely suck, and I said “If you’re cool with that, let’s do it.”

I learned a lot from doing it. And, taking into account what I learned, there’s a lot I’d do differently the next time. Any and all of the shortcomings of the video firmly rests on my shoulders. But, hey, it was my first go — I think I did somewhat ok — not great; perhaps not even good, really. But, all things considered, I think it’s at least passable. I think if you look at other similar sorts of production made under the same sorts of limitations, I don’t think any reasonable person will look at it and say it’s really bottom of the barrel. I think it at least runs somewhere in the middle of that pack. At least, I hope it does.

So, what did I learn? Well, the biggest thing, I think, is: Shoot more damned footage, you idiot! I think we shot around four hours of total footage — it wasn’t nearly enough. It turns out that four hours of footage isn’t nearly optimum for a three and a half minute video. Who’d of thunk it? I had to make too many concessions I didn’t want to make due to a lack of having more footage. I had to cover for a lack of footage by devising artistic editing effects and trying to pass them off to the viewer as intended artistic choices. There’s also footage that I had to use in the final cut that I didn’t really want to use — just due to a lack of having better footage as an option.

Secondly, I learned that I need to be much more aggressive in directing. It took going through such a production to really have it hit home, I think, that there really does need to be one person who’s at the helm of directing things through toward the final vision, and that person needs to make sure he is directing it — being clear and assertive in exactly what he needs from the other players. That job was given to me, but I failed. A video shoot is NOT an artistic photographic shoot and can not be approached in the same way. I like, often, to limit direction on artistic photographic projects — allow the models more freedom to do what they feel. It works for my style of photography — I believe I get more natural looking posing, and “happy accidents” occur more frequently. It doesn’t work quite the same way on a video shoot. I didn’t get quite what I was looking for out of some of the talent. But, the fault was all mine — not theirs, to any degree. They did absolutely great — they just lacked the direction I should have been providing. I wasn’t precise enough with it. And, considering the lack of what they really needed to do the job coming from me, they really pulled through much better than should have been expected, I think. Everybody was so great. I’m sorry I was such a weak link in the chain. But, hey! You do and learn — if I do it again, I’ll be much, much stronger.

Another thing I learned is that my computer hardware isn’t nearly up to the task. Ugh! The video got done. But, the frustration of making a slight edit to the video, then waiting while the system freezes up and whines and whirs, groans, protests and complains for a solid three or four minutes while the computer crunches data and struggles through trying to render the miniscule change? Argh! To say the least ARGH!!! And, I’m not even going to talk about the many multiple computer crashes and spontaneous re-boots. Again, ARGH!!! ARGH, I tell you!

Anyway, it’s done, and it is what it is. I think it doesn’t totally, 100% suck. But, I wish sincerely I could have provided Drew Nelson with a product much more worthy of his talents. Take a look, if you’d care to, and let me know what you think. Any sincere thoughts or criticisms will be appreciated.

The model is the very beautiful and talented Carmen C. Camacho.

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