How we shot a music video in a single day with an actress from a hit TV show for £800.
Minnie Driver is the debut single for Three Girl Rhumba. Starring Lucy Carless (Mattie, Channel 4's Humans) the video is a nostalgic narrative about the trials and tribulations of an intimate friendship.
Commissioned Via Radar Music Videos 2015.
This video was something of a minor miracle. The music was fantastic, but the budget was set at £500 and I knew it would be tough to do the track justice for that price. That said, I decided to send the band a short statement and few examples of my work. There was no pitch per-se, it was more of an introduction.
Tom Thurgood (lead singer) works in film production himself and was impressed by what our team had achieved previously. He reached out and was willing to put in an extra £300 on the condition that I could pool our team together for a narrative video. Narrative is always going to be tough on a tight budget, but Tom had connections to the Television Workshop and was keen to help us cast a strong actor in the lead role.
I went back to the drawing board and produced a loose story/character structure that I felt suited the nature of the track. I knew that so long as we could get a good cast together we would create something worthwhile. My previous few videos had been planned to the smallest detail and it felt like it was time to try something more loose and improvised. After all, if production can be summed up in one word, then it's collaboration.
Lucy Carless had just come off the back of a successful stint on Humans and happened to be a big fan of Three Girl Rhumba. Tom reached out to her and she was keen to come on board. On top of Lucy, I had a mental shortlist of local talent who I'd been wanting to work with for some time, so we made a few calls and within a matter of days our cast were locked in place.
In order to make it work, we had to find dozens of locations within a small footprint. In total we did three separate location recces, building up a catalogue of stills and maps of varied and interesting spots. Combing this info with sunrise and sunset times, we were able to know exactly where we were going to be when the sun was at a certain height. After all, why hire in lights when you can use the biggest one in our solar system for free?
Karl Poyzer (Our DoP) and I had been talking about shooting on anamorphic lenses for some time. We loved the composition of 2:35:1 but always felt like we were 'cheating' a little by cropping in on 16:9 lenses so we made a creative decision early on to get hold of a set of Lomo's for the shoot.
The shoot itself happened to fall on the same day as a major marathon and pretty much every main road in or out of the city was closed for the day. Lauren Parker (Our Producer) had to meticulously plan every single journey in advance so that we wouldn't get trapped by any of the closures. Despite this, we were still hit by a traffic jam that cost us 2 hours of light and to top it off our AD got a flat tyre during a location move.
The pressure of having to pull off several set ups in a single day actually led to more creative freedom . I told the cast that I wanted them to lead us and not to think about the camera at all. They stayed in character pretty much the whole day and we dropped in and out, grabbing moments as they happened. Almost every shot in the video is a 1st take and if nothing else, it's a testament to the quality of performance our cast achieved.
If I came away from this video with anything it's that the less you set in stone, the more freedom people have to be creative. It was nerve-wracking going into a shoot without a shot list, but it was also liberating. Everyone on board the project gave 100% and I was humbled to be surrounded by such a talented bunch of people. Oh, and also, always feed people well. We spent 1/8th our budget on catering. A well fed crew are a happy crew!