My Year In Music Videos

October 30, 2011

It’s been a long year of waiting for my new film “Cheer For Your Life: From The Diary Of Lori” to begin production I’ve been antsy.  I don’t like to do anything but be busy.  I didn’t get into filmmaking to talk about filmmaking – I want to be shooting, editing, directing, writing– CREATING — all the time.  That being said I got back into shooting music videos this past year.

Previous to this year I had directed a small handful of music videos – it was never my goal to be a music video director.  I just had friends in bands that asked me to make videos for them.  It was fun, it was different.  I’ve always liked experimenting in new forms of media.  Then, last October, really driven by The Afters latest single “Light Up The Sky” and the recent rise of the DSLR camera, I was inspired to come up with a music video for it.

The spark of creation with the concept  happened while taking a leak one night in Detroit having dinner with guys in the band and that sealed the deal.  We’d shoot the video in Windsor.

I couldn’t have expected it to turn into all the video that were shot within a year.  19!  19 music videos!  I thought I could blog and share this year in music video creation and a small blurb about each.

#1 – The Afters – Light Up The Sky

Making of “Light Up The Sky”

This video shocked me with the response we’ve had to it.  Emails still come weekly from people that feel moved by it or inspired.  Letters of people experiencing sorrow and loss explaining to me how much the story in the video has lifted their spirits and brought tears AND a smile to their face.  I feel blessed to have been able to use my talents to have such an impact on viewers.

The video has gone on to receive almost 1.4 million views on youtube, more on other online sites, and be broadcast on Gospel Music Channel as well as other television outlets.

Not bad for a music video made by Windsorites starring a cast of Windsor area actors.

#2 – Chasing Amee – Over&Over

Making of “Over&Over”

Chasing Amee’s Ryan Faist kept calling and calling until we could make this work.  They didn’t have much money and wanted something that could be done on the cheap.  We discussed the idea of backwards and a one-take video.  I’m a fan of the one take and had successfully done it with a previous Afters video (Never Going Back To OK) and felt inspired by Ryan’s passion for the band and his aggressive insistence that I direct for them.

We spent 6-7 hours rehearsing the video on the day of the shoot and managed to nail it in one take expect for the polaroid camera not working correctly.  Thankfully, knowing Sean Tighe makes digital corrections easy.

This low budget video ended up being my most played video on Much Music to date gaining regular rotation.  It’s had over 60,000 views online too.  Much to be said about listening to your gut, not always working just for money, and working with other artists that inspire you and have a passion for their art.

#3 – Inoke Errati – Jennifer

Making of “Jennifer”

I’ve had this idea forever.  It was pitched to Inoke Errati years before… it was almost a Mic Lordz “Start The Show” video at one point too.  All good ideas take time to develop and get right.  The idea of doing an audition prank and using the auditions AS the music video.  I think the making of this video is just as entertaining as the video itself.

It was picked up by the comedy based Youtube Channel Bag Of Misfits where it had a good run.  I still get people often telling me how funny they found this one.

#4 – Cerah Steele – Melting

This video was shot in less than 45 minutes.  Partly because it was freezing cold and only Cerah and I out there and partly (more so) because he had be denied permission to shoot there without a proper permit and decided to barge ahead anyway and make the video.

The song is a cover of a Riley Armstrong tune and it was recording by Cerah for the soundtrack to my film “Still Here”.  This was her first music video and I think she’s charming as fuck on camera as well as having a gifted voice.

#5 – To Tell – Safe To Say

Making of  “Safe To Say”

Zach Havens / To Tell I met through Ryan Richardson.  Ryan is a conduit to so much of my music business success.  He is the one that helped me sneak into meeting with Josh from the Afters way back when that triggered that working relationship and friendship.

Zach and his wife, Brittney (the girl IN the video), came to Windsor to shoot this one.  I’m a big fan of trying to lose traditional performance in a music video and have a story or something else that can encourage folks to remember the video and possibly share it if they’ve enjoyed it.  The minute I heard this song I had the idea and Zach was quick to agree on the concept.

The video made #1 on the Canadian Christian music video chart.

#6 – The Blue Stones – I’m A Stereo

Making of “I’m A Stereo”

This is the fastest video for me that went from concept to finished product.  I bought an iPhone 4 and was playing with FaceTime video chat and thought – there has to be a music video to make with this new technology.  A few hours later (it was a Sunday) I called Tarek in the band and mentioned my idea.  We found a location and settled on shooting the first day we were all available which was that Wednesday.  I edited the video overnight and the video was online by Thursday that same week.

It went on to be featured on Apple and Tech blogs all over the world and apparently was the video video to ever be filmed using FaceTime.  Go us for being pioneers.

#7 – Scotty James – Wanna Be Loved

Making of “Wanna Be Loved”

Scotty is another artist that tracked me down after seeing previous work.  It’s nice to be in demand!  I pitched the idea of a love-struck singer/songwriter going all out to win the girl and Scotty was in.  Casting Ellen Coleman (of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit fame) was a no-brainer and we were off to the races.  This video casts just about every Windsor actor I love and adore and a a cameo by Justin of The Blue Stones.

The video has been played on MTV in the USA, featured on various web video outlets and picked up in something ridiculous like 22 different countries… and it’s STILL growing.  For such a small budget, indie video, there’s something about this concept and Scotty’s catchy tune that just works for people.  For me it was the perfect blend of films I love such as Say Anything and Airheads.

#8 – The Afters – Lift Me Up

How do you follow-up Light Up The Sky?  Well you find other story lines that connect with an audience and see if you can make magic again.  More tears, more smiles.  The video has gone on to receive over 350,00 views, television airtime and all the rest.  It’s really hard to fail with The Afters music as your backing track to a video.  Their music is inspiring, rocking, and moving – always.

#9 – Mike Cerveni -Right Now

Making of “Right Now”

Rhys Trenhaile is the star here as our broken-down superhero.  This was such a fun shoot – no permits or anything once again – just our cast and crew showing up Downtown Windsor and filming all day without a spot of trouble from authorities or business owners.  I love filming in Windsor.

Mike’s song is very heartfelt and has great meaning lyrically so we wanted a story of redemption and hope.  Rhys captures that perfectly as a lost soul trying to gain back his power and place in the world.  Shooting almost entirely in slow-motion something I hadn’t done since Light Up The Sky.  I’m such a fan of slow-motion but it often isn’t called for.

#10 – LYE – O Mamma

Making of “O Mamma”

The Sixth Sense of music videos.  I pitched this to LYE off the top of my head when I heard the song and he freaked for it.  It took us a few months to get it together having such a large cast, extras, and multiple locations and specialty props such as the casket but well worth the wait.

This might be my MOST story driven music video that took the most out of me to edit and get the timing down just right so that the story connected with the lyrics and pacing of the track.  It was fun to have a surprise ending.  Get a good reaction from people that have enjoyed that.

#11 – Gavin Slate – Falling

Making of “Falling”

Oh the old break-up and winning the girl back.  Theme yet?  Maybe I’ve been kicked out or fought hard to win girls back or over in the past?  Who knows… I’m not telling.

Gavin Slate was a dream to work with and a new breed of Toronto artist to come to Windsor to create his music video.  This was shot on my front yard and Cerah Steele did an amazing job of finding key vintage props to get the style across just right.  This also debuted Gavin’s music video acting skills as you’ll see if you keep watching upcoming videos that he appears in a whack of them!

#12 – The Danger Bees – Good Year

Making of “Good Year”

Another one take.  This video was so much fun to make.  How can you not have fun when it involves smashing and breaking everything insight.  Our actress had to get everything in a single take as working with a small budget didn’t allow for extra guitars, picture frames, plates, etc to break.  The idea of someone just taking what is coming to them during a horrible break-up was funny to me.  This could almost be a prequel to Gavin Slate’s “Falling” video – the what happened BEFORE the dude got kicked out.

The fire at the end was courtesy of Sean Tighe again – evil wizard that guy is.  Again – the making of shows the whole process of staging the one take video and I highly recommend it’s viewing.

#13 – Mic Lordz & Sauce Funky – My World

It’s been a long time in the works to make a video with Mic Lordz. I’ve always had crazy respect for this band and how hard they push themselves in the industry.  The concept of being humble enough to showcase those struggles and not just have a video that begs people to accept them as typical, macho rockstars was refreshing.

I think that any artist or person with a dream can relate to this statistics of success concept.  I’ve had people tell me it really makes them reflect on their goals and dreams and question if they are chasing them hard enough.

Gavin Slate – Goodnight Lovers, Goodnight Thieves

This one features a certain heartbreak and view of a relationship many might related to.
After Mic Lordz the rest of the videos are still unreleased.  So coming soon are:

Michael Joseph Green – Perfect World

Tears.  Touching.  A journey of friendship in a “perfect world”.

Adam Cappa – The Rescue

First time working with Tooth & Nail records – breakout artist Adam Cappa shot this video with me in Nashville and then the storyline elements were done here in Windsor.

Beth Moore – Love Now

Beth and I have been getting this Wizard Of Oz inspired concept together for a few months.  Great performance by Christian Pinard and the lovely City of Windsor, once again, as the backdrop.

Robyn Dell’Unto – Behave

Robyn’s a badass in this video.  That’s all I can say without giving it away.  Huge cast in this video.  Lots of familiar faces.  We shot this in Windsor just a few weeks ago.

Gavin Slate – Stranger In The Dark

Shot impromptu while Gavin was here to act in Beth Moore and Robyn Dell’Unto’s videos just this past week.  Simple concept but should be powerful.  We have to get his Goodnight video released before we can plan for this one!  Maybe in the new year?

So that is my past year in music videos.  There are a few more lining up to shoot before and after the film shoot this winter.  I’m always looking and booking so if you happen to be in need of a video I’d love to work with more artists and keep this great Windsor music video train moving forward.  I do shoot elsewhere  when necessary too.  If it’s way too much to ask that you’ve watched the videos above, the shortcut is to watch this demo below.

Peace and love,

GMB

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Chasing A Dream Ain’t Easy

October 4, 2011

Not so much a blog as a press release for a music video I have releasing tomorrow but a bit of a teaser as the what the video is and the message that it contains.  Hope to see you all at the premiere party!

LOCAL MUSIC VIDEO SHOWS HARDSHIPS OF CHASING DREAMS

Windsor band “Mic Lordz & The Sauce Funky” host party for debut music video.

Windsor, ON October 4th, 2011 – Mic Lordz & The Sauce Funky (MLSF) will premiere their music video for “My World” at Venue Rock Parlour tomorrow night, Wednesday, October 5th. MLSF have been together for over five years and working daily towards climbing the ladder of success. They have toured coast to coast in both Canada and the United States. “My World” showcases a great number of statistics surrounding the band along their journey to stardom. The viewer will get a look inside the (not so) glamorous world of a hard working band.

MLSF chose to partner with local director Gavin Michael Booth for this project. Booth, and emerging filmmaker was able to relate to their struggle and create the right energy arranging the stats in a unique visual presentation as well as create a riveting performance element to the video. The video was shot on location in Windsor and created with an all Windsor-based crew.

Wednesday will feature the world premiere of the music video as well as a live acoustic performance from MLSF. Tickets at $5.00 at the door. The music video will debut online as soon as the world premiere has finished.

Says Booth, “No one’s journey to the top in a career as an artist is a smooth ride in the express lane. It takes a commitment to spending more than you earn for years beyond what most people could ever ask of themselves to handle. I was most impressed by this project that the Mic Lordz were willing to open their lives to their fans and peel back the illusion of the care-free rockstar.”

More about MLSF can be found at http://www.miclordz.com . For more local music video work from Booth and Mimetic Entertainment Inc. visit http://www.youtube.com/mimeticonline


And I Knew What It Was All Along

August 26, 2011

I was supposed to start this months ago – write a blog to coincide with each music video I direct.  It’s supposed to be an exercise in keeping my journalling active on the making-of Cheer For Your Life (my upcoming film, which I’m desperately behind on journalling about so maybe this blog-per-music video will work like it’s supposed to).  So here I am alone in a hotel room in the Nashville area at midnight finding myself completely bored.

Too tired to edit anymore but not tired enough to sleep.  This is where my brain always finds itself this time of night.  I want to keep working but get scattered and unfocused.  Facebook has become a yawn-fest by this time as most regular type folk have tucked in for the night.  Just boredom.  There’s only so much Nip/Tuck I can watch in an evening (it’s midway through Season 4 for me right now.  I never watched the show in it’s regular run though urged by an ex-girlfriend to give it a try.)

Anyhow on to what I’m here to talk about.  A month or two ago I directed a music video for fellow Gavin, Gavin Slate.

Photo By: Desiree Nickerson

The song is titled “Falling” and it’s the simple lyrical tale of a man coming to terms with the fact that the feelings he has have been love for a certain someone all along “and I knew what it was all along… I was falling for you…”.  My take on the concept was the bittersweet realization of too little, too late.  I’ve been there.  I think many of us have.  So the concept I pitched to Gavin was simple.

See the finished video here if you haven’t already:

[youtube.com/watch?v=UVV1yHLC6eI]

Actually I should explain how I met Gavin Slate.  It’s always a bizarro world for me how these projects come together.

I had written treatments for a wonderfully wicked singer/songwriter Lindi Ortega at the request of her label.  I did my duties there and submitted them and not long after saw that she was having a CD Release party in Toronto.  Turns out we have a mutual good friend who ended up inviting me to the same release party.  I had planned on making the drive up from Windsor to be there.  Never hurts if I’ve seen a performer live that I may potentially direct for.  In fact I prefer it.  On the poster for the event I caught on the facebook event page I saw the opening acts.  I figured, I’ll check out their music on Myspace or iTunes before I see them open for Lindi.  For me there is nothing worse than being at a concert and watching openers that I don’t know their music.  I like to have lyrics to sing along with and know a little about a band/act first.  Gavin Slate was one of these acts.  His name was Gavin so he’s already a rare breed in my books.  I’ve never worked with another Gavin.  That was intriguing on it’s own for whatever silly reason.

I found Gavin’s music online and started listening.  Powerful stuff.  All of it.  His voice in in the vein of Matt Kearney and his somber songs about love and live get trapped in your head and you find yourself humming them hours later.  Naturally I found him on Facebook and sent him a cold message.  “Hey it’s Gavin, blah blah, Lindi’s release, blah blah, like yer stuff, blah, talk to you that night at the event.”

Or something like that.

So within twenty-four hours I got chatting with Other Gavin (when I’m directing he’s Other Gavin and when he’s on stage or the main event I will be Other Gavin that night) about music videos and what track he’s like to do a video for.  We settled on “Falling”.  I had the idea almost instantly and wrote up a quasi-treatment and sent it over.  He liked it right away and bingo – a video was born.  I actually sent two over and for the life of me I can’t remember what the other concept was… hopefully I still have the message – maybe it will end up a video for another artist.  From there we started discussing budget and timing to get the video shot.  I pitched him, as I pitch everyone, the concept of doing the production in Windsor/Essex County.  He was game.  This made me happy because I love working with the rag-tag team of dedicated people Mimetic Entertainment has on set on a regular basis.  The gang would ride again.

Around the same time, Sean Parker over at Parktown Productions put out an incredible offer.  He would provide the Redcam and we’d collaborate for the first time ever so that I could get a taste for the Red having never shot with it and considering it for my next film Cheer.  Not an offer I could turn down.  Sean and I met through my How Many Days? video blogs relating to Kevin Smith and have been Facebook friends ever since.  We’re going to write a screenplay together soon and I know in my gut have many collaborations ahead of us, but how he relates here and now to Gavin Slate was this offer of the camera and coming down for the weekend.  As soon as I knew that date I had Gavin on the phone to get his arse to Windsor for the same time.

So we’re back to Gavin’s song and my concept for it.  I took it as a guy who realized he truly was in love with his girlfriend all along- only he’s realized this after she’s finished kicking him out of the house.  We don’t know what he did but it couldn’t have been good because his clothes, guitar, television, and even couch have been tossed out in her rage.  Not wanting to give up on the relationship he’s realized (as most of us simple minded males do) he doesn’t want to lose even this late in the game, Gavin sets up all of his furniture on the lawn and refuses to leave until she breaks down and lets him back in to talk.  The video essentially is a performance of Gavin on the front lawn as if it’s business as normal in his living room – he’d order a pizza, watch some tv, take a nap, do some light reading – all the comforts of home without the roof over his head.  A test of will that if he stuck it out long enough, his girlfriend would come around and her anger would simmer.

We needed a front yard.  I always go to Marie, who has produced with me pretty much every music video I’ve directed since The Afters “Light Up The Sky” video last October.  Marie is great at brainstorming the needs of any video and an amazing sounding board for me to talk out load at and bounce ideas off of.  We thought of the neighbourhood that had what we’d want in terms of exterior for the house.  We talk about how to approach people who own’d the houses, how to deal with the noise we’d be making at night with a crew on a front lawn.  Of course the simplest solution didn’t come about for a few days; a solution we ultimately went with.

Photo By: Marie Jeannette

My front lawn.  The house that Brian and I live in was absolutely perfect for it but like most times when stressing to lock down elements for a music video or film, I can’t see the lawn for the city as they say.  This was going to be such a simple shoot on the technical end.  Load the gear out onto the lawn and once wrapped load it back in!  No moving cast and crew to multiple locations, sometimes over multiple days.  I was pretty stoked about this.

Of course we had Sean coming down from Ottawa and bringing two assistants, camera operator Ben Walker and Digital Imagine wizard Oscar Welsh.  Two gentleman I had the pleasure of meeting that weekend but, like Sean, hope to work with again – even though Oscar’s going to a film school program next month when he’s already working with world class film people… shame on him!  I won’t hold it against him forever.  With Sean and the gang in town, my place, although the ideal location was not going to work to house our out of town guests.  So I made a call.

“Hi, Mom”.

My mother, “What do you need?”

She knows that I rarely call her because she calls me each and every day at least once.  So when I am calling it’s because I have a request.  This time – to house the crew, Marie and I for two nights since her and my stepfather George have three guest bedrooms.   My mom is a super neat-freak so there was some grumbling but like the good mother she is she agreed.  Who needs hotels when we can arrive at mum’s to pizza already ordered, George’s homemade wine, and hours of great conversation?  Not I.  We settled in, tried to get a good night’s sleep and then in the morning I had to go film a charity event before the set-up for the shoot could begin.

I took off for the morning and first part of the afternoon to film The Breast Ride Ever’s second annual charity motorcycle ride for Breast Cancer.  While I did that the crew and Marie were treated to George’s homemade breakfast.  Fuckers.   I really missed out.  Though I suppose I can rest comfortably knowing I was dedicating my time and camera skills to something bigger than all of us.  Now I want pancakes.  All I have are mini-bagels in this hotel.  They shall have to do for the time being.

While I was filming for charity, Marie was calling around to find ANYWHERE in our cursed city that carried a 7200rpm firewire 800 external hard drive.  We were only able to find one at Henry’s.  An entire city of computer and electronic stores and truly only one that understands the needs of the digital filmmaker.  Pathetic.  It’s not even that uncommon of a drive but I didn’t have a free one and the Red Camera we were shooting the video on required it for storage of the footage.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQlTj-eJPY8]

While this was transpiring and I was still filming from the back of a truck trying to not get whipped in the eye by my shaggy head of hair

Moving on to the afternoon, charity filmed, everyone is gathering at my house.  Marie and I had been taking donations and loan outs on vintage furniture and props to be the content’s of Gavin’s life that would appear on the lawn.  Facebook friends and cast/crew from previous videos brought out some amazing items to use.  That afternoon, setting up, I had a call from Cerah Steele.  She is my hair dresser and an amazing singer/performer herself.  Cerah was going to do hair for the video that evening and happened to be at an estate sale not more than a four minute drive from my house.  She said there was all sorts of vintage stuff there that was going for dirt cheap.  Sean and I hoped in the car and headed over.  Sure enough I spent a bit more than planned in our tiny budget but managed to snag the record player you see at the beginning and end of the video as well as the clock which you see hung on the tree.  Definitely worth the trip, many thank-yous to Cerah and her boyfriend Josh for those findings.

Photo By: Desiree Nickerson

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8_hftPgVtQ]

We waited til the sun was setting after scattering the furniture, clothes, etc around the lawn to design phase one of the set.  We shot the first takes with Marie throwing books and final items out of the house while we dolly to the left from the record player Gavin is starting up to seeing the scattered items on the lawn.  Marie’s goal in her career is to be a working actor full-time.  She sorta fell into working behind the scenes with me on a short film I produced for Navin Ramaswaran a few years back.  When looking for the leading lady for this video it became apparent quickly that she’d be perfect for it and given the fact that there isn’t a demanding amount of her time for the scenes necessary she could producer and act in the video without it compromising her producing responsibilities.

Sun sets.  We’re into night which is the majority of our shoot.  There’s no real funny stories to tell about the shoot from this point on.  There’s a behind the scenes video that shows you far better than I can write it.  Marie always shoots a behind the scenes for each music video she produces so we’re sure to add it to the Mimetic Entertainment Youtube Channel playlists for the artist to share with their fans.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYEsjTduKhE]

Photo By: Victoria Strehlau

It was wonderful to have Desiree and Victoria taking photos for us.  Clinton and Sarah are just top-notch and work like dogs to make sure everything is done fast and efficient as they always do on each set.  Logan dug right in as a first timer and really rocked it.  Cerah’s hair stylings were perfection.  Krista’s make-up top notch.  Ben, Sean, Oscar from Ottawa where an absolute pleasure to work with.  We even had film producer Mike Carriere out to lend a hand.

I did find the Red a bit bulky – I’m used to being able to move a smaller camera more often, change shots quicker, do handheld with a shoulder mount rig, just get coverage fast.  With the Red it didn’t work that way so there was a learning curve and adjustment for me in that sense.

It was a contained set to the front lawn and not a lot of motion on Gavin’s part.  His performance was consistant from take to take and that makes the editing a heck of a lot easier.

Photo By: Desiree Nickerson

There was a cameo from Ted E. Bear – who’s been making the rounds in music videos and a previous feature film of mine.  Great little bear actor he is!  This video is one of the first times I kinda had everything planned out (not on paper of course)  – A lot of one location indie band videos I go in with a basic concept but no real shot list… just knowing the basic story/idea and roll with it.  For “Falling” I knew the majority of the events and knew we could think up more ways for Gavin to pass the time while he was on his front lawn if we had time left over.  One of the cool things we got to do was provide a cameo for Bull’s Eye Pizza… err… more so blatant product placement!

Bull’s Eye Pizza has been so incredible with us donating pizza for the cast/crew of every single music video we’ve every requested of them.  We always tweet and facebook our appreciation for it to help promote their business.  This time however, we thought it would be a funny moment in the storyline for the video if Gavin gets hungry while camping out overnight for his girlfriend to give him the time of day.  So we have him paying for a pizza he’s ordered.  Bull’s Eye Pizza even sent over an extra pizza with some nice bright coloured hot peppers on it to use a the pizza in the video instead of making the crew wait to eat the meal pizzas.  Jon, the owner, also sent Marie back with a small Bull’s Eye Pizza shirt.  The only person in the crew it was going to fit was Oscar, so he went from DIT specialist to actor in the change of a tee.

Photo By: Desiree Nickerson

So that’s about all she wrote.  We filmed until five in the morning or so.  Clean up wasn’t too painful having to just stuff everything back inside the house.  The editing was done a day or so later and Ben over at Parktown turned around the colour correction soon after.  Gavin did a great job – debut music videos can be tricky for an artist sometimes when performing in front of the camera.  You really should all check out his EP.  The songs are fantastic.  We have another video coming your way really soon too.

www.gavinslate.com
myspace.com/gavinslate
iTunes Store for Gavin Slate

For me, thanks for reading and you can catch me on the big, vast, ever growing world wide web through the links under my sign off.

Toodles,

GMB
gavinmichaelbooth@gmail.com
howmanydays.ca
twitter: @gavinbooth
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