From my experience as a director, I have developed a list of tips for every artist when they're preparing for a music video shoot. If you follow these steps, you should avoid the majority of issues artists typically experience when making a music video. You'll end up with a much better video, and you should be able to actually enjoy the day of shooting.
- Think outside the box. The natural tendency will be to make the video story follow the lyrics precisely. Although this works sometimes, often times the most memorable videos do not match the lyrics at all. Be willing to stray from the theme of the song for the plot of the video. Note: This applies less to country music videos, as they are more of a story than pop and rock songs, and therefore it often makes sense to follow the lyrics.
- Make sure you have the final version of the song before filming begins. It’s okay if the song is not mixed, but the timing must remain the exact same. That means no speeding the song up, or choosing a different vocal take after filming is done. Any change in speed or performance after filming will cause numerous headaches when editing, and often will lead to a bad video.
- Make a version of the song with four clicks leading into the song. That gives the video editor something to sync up with, and if someone starts playing or singing right on the first downbeat, you’ll know when to start.
- Get firm commitments from the extras you have coming for the day of the shoot. I can’t tell you how many times an artist will tell me they have 60 people coming, and only 5 or 10 end up showing up.
- Make sure to have an amp and speakers that can play the song loud enough to play along with. If you’re a full band, this means it has to get loud enough for the drummer to hear the song while playing full volume. Also, don’t just have someone listen on headphones. It looks awkward on camera, and will take the viewer out of the viewing experience.
- Send the director examples of videos you’d like to emulate. Make sure to let the director know how you want the video to look. There are lots of options on coloring, editing style, feel, etc on how a video can look, and knowing ahead of time allows the director to plan for it and shoot accordingly.
- Location, Location, Location. A great location can lead to a much better video, the same way a bad location can ruin a video. With low budget videos, the artist typically does the location scouting, so make sure to exhaust all your resources to get the best location possible.
- Be on time. It’s surprising how many artists won’t be on time for their own video shoot. This is only costing you more money, and keeping us from being able to film as long, which lowers the quality of your video.
- Make sure to play and sing with the same excitement or passion as on the recording. If you’re the singer, don’t sing half volume, because it will be obvious that the performance intensity doesn’t match the audio. The same goes with each instrument. You can tell when a drummer isn’t really hitting the drums hard enough.
- Never look in the camera, unless explicitly instructed to.
- Be ready to feel awkward. You will feel like you look awkward or too intense, but if you are doing too much, the director will tell you.
- If you're shooting outdoors, bring sunscreen.
- In cold weather, make sure to have a jacket or something you can put on to stay warm between takes.
- Don't wear any pure white or pure black clothing (some white and some black is okay though).
- Don’t wear bright yellow clothing.
- Don't wear clothing with tight, intricate patterns. Keep patterns larger and not grouped together. This is due to DSLR alias issues.
- Bring multiple changes of clothes.
- Don’t wear sunglasses, as the way camera and lights will be reflected in them.
- NO LOGOS.
- Be ready with hair and makeup completed on arrival or before shooting is scheduled to begin.