The Art of the Last Minute Music Video Shoot

This past week I was in Nashville, TN for a non-film related matter. The day before I planned to head home, our kinfolk, hip hop crew Teamhighgrade, hit me up about shooting a video. I usually don’t like planning video shoots at the last minute, but I had my camera on me, I hadn’t shot a video in a while, and I had a free afternoon before I left the city. I actually considered not doing it. I’ve been spoiled by film school with its fancy equipment and larger crews. Then I remembered the days when I shot entire short films by myself! Here are four tips for shooting a music video at the last minute:

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1. You can rent a cheap light kit at the last minute.

Its often tempting to shoot without dedicated film/video lights. We all know video looks better when attention is paid to lighting. However, we don’t all know that you can get a light kit for the low (<$50) at the last minute. We were able to rent a video light kit from a place that specialized in DJ equipment on the same day. Look for small places like this; they had what we needed and it was cheap because they don’t specialize in video production. Also, look for places that will rent to you without production insurance. If worse comes to worse, just go outside and use the sun. You could actually use house lamps too if you get creative enough. We used them for one setup, and just put a gel over it.

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2. Use stabilization.

Its tempting to go handheld. I’m a big fan of it, if done right. But for those of us who shoot on DSLR, its quite difficult to do it right simply because of the nature of the camera. The slightest movement makes the video shake and looks amateurish. Unfortunately my tripod was three states away. So I went to Wal Mart and bought a tripod. Keep the receipt, box, and don’t break the tripod! I plan on returning it this week, but it definitely got the job done for this last minute shoot.

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3. Get creative with concept and editing.

Our location was our artist’s living room. Our production design was what they had laying around. We only had a few hours between deciding to shoot a video, throwing ideas around, and actually shooting the video. Limitations are a filmmaker’s best friend. They force you to think outside the box, get more experimental, and push the form. That’s what we did with the video concept and that’s what we plan to do with the editing. I plan to throw some graphics and effects in to take away from holes in other areas. Filmmakers often get held back thinking they need a high concept idea, and put off working on a project because they don’t have the means to make it happen how they want. Well, if you only have half a day to shoot a video, you better get creative. You might surprise yourself.

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4. Don’t forget the basics of organization.

Just because you only have a few hours to conceptualize and shoot doesn’t mean you should go out without planning. Make sure you remember to write out a shot list. This will keep you from wasting time and ensure you are on track to at least get the essential shots. A dope concept is nothing without the footage to work with. If you have a smart phone, check out this MovieSlate app. It helps sync footage if shooting double system. We weren’t shooting double, but it definitely came in handy on this shoot to keep clips organized.

These four easy tips should be common sense, but often are not. They are simple enough to forget but, if implemented, can easily make your video quality achieve more than it could otherwise. Ironically, I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting some other essentials as I type this. If you have any more tips for last minute music video shoots leave them in the comment section below!

Last minute videos are fun in my opinion. You have to think quick on your toes and push your creativity. However, it is definitely not the ideal way to do a shoot. So we’re working hard in pre-production planning the upcoming Kinfolk film Third Timothy to make sure we don’t run into the same types of problems we did on this last minute music video. Remember kids, proper preparation prevents poor performance.

Julian Walker

Holler at Kinfolk Collective on Facebook, Twitter, or our Website.

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This entry was published on March 25, 2013 at 3:10 pm. It’s filed under Hip Hop, Independent Filmmaking, Music Video and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “The Art of the Last Minute Music Video Shoot

  1. These are some great tips. We just shot a low-budget music video and it was released last week. Man, it was fun but we had to get creative in some spots. I’m working on concepts for two new ones, so thanks for the insight!!

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