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Making a Music Video: Part 1 - The Idea

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Dan Lucas Dan Lucas | 11:00 UK time, Monday, 27 December 2010

OK, now before we start, this is not THE guide to making a music video. I’m not here to give you the foolproof plan; I’m not here to create THE rules of filmmaking; I’m not going to make up annoying acronyms telling you all the things you HAVE to do to make a successful video (sure, Mrs Gren can help you remember the processes of life, but making a music video is far more complicated than that).

The idea is, over the next week I'll bring you a series of five posts about things I've encountered and thought would be useful to share. Whether it’s practical examples of how videos have been made, or just examples of videos/films that I find inspiring, I think it’s important this series is more a collection of ideas, a stream of music-video-making consciousness, rather than a ‘guide’.

So to kick things off, just think about some of your favourite music videos. Don't worry, I'm not going to make you stand up in front of the group and explain your decision like a Music Videos Lovers Anonymous session, but I think it's useful to think about why you like that video. It doesn't even have to be a favourite, just memorable. Why did you remember that video, amongst the thousands of others?

When I was thinking about this, The White Stripes - The Hardest Button to Button popped into my head.

I watched the video a few times, and tried to figure out a) why I liked it and b) how I think they made it. How many cameras did they use? Where was it shot? How did they make the camera move in a certain way? Give it a go yourself with your video of choice.

Now unless you happen to be Jay-Z’s director, I'm assuming you're reading this thinking you don't have any money to make a music video. You'd be wrong. Thinking costs nothing, and thinking can lead to some magical things. In the really early stages of dreaming up ideas for your music video, try and let go of all practical/financial considerations and let your mind run free. Don’t think about the money (if you'd rather have a slightly cheesy American tell you this, then watch this).

If you think of an idea, write it down. Write loads of ideas down, no matter how loose they might be. Re-visit them at different times, see if you can take them further, change them, make them more interesting. If you can then somehow weave the idea into some sort of script, or rough storyboard, then that may become very useful later on. If you can't think of an idea, don't worry, theres no rush. No-one's going to force you into a a room with a blank piece of paper screaming "COME UP WITH AN IDEA!" I really don't think good ideas happen like that.

I would recommend carrying something you can write on wherever you go, as ideas can often pop in the most unlikely of places (apparantly The Shard, soon to be the tallest building in the UK, started life as a scribble on the back of a napkin)

OK, I promise more practical advice will be on the way, but I just wanted to get the ball rolling by explaining what this is all about and to get people thinking. I'll post Part 2 tomorrow, but until then, I leave you with Mr Fogg’s latest video for Answerphone - set in Trafalgar Square and made for next to nothing.

You can read his inspiring story about the making of the video over on Tom Robinson's blog.

Tomorrow: Part 2 - Shoot Yourself.
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