So you’re ready to film a new music video. Awesome.
But have you actually done your homework? Have you done any location scouting? Some planning will be necessary if you want to make the best video possible.
People these days have short attention spans, and you need to be able to capture their attention upfront, and then hold it. Oftentimes, location can play into how engaging your music video is.
If you don’t have a big budget, then you’re going to have to make do with what you’ve got – and what you’ve got might be whatever is in your own backyard.
If you happen to be in a city with a lot of tourist destinations, statues, historical artifacts and so on, you might not have to think too hard about where you’re going to film. But not all towns and cities have really cool things to capture on film.
So here are some location ideas most of you should have access to.
Note: If you haven’t got the budget to to do a location shoot, doing a picture based music video is also a low budget option to get you started.
1. Your Home Or A Friend’s Home
If possible, you should try to film in an environment that’s private. You may need to get permits if you’re thinking about filming smack dab in the middle of your city.
If you have a decent sized budget, then maybe you can absorb permit costs. Otherwise, you will need to consider whatever free options might be available to you.
Your own home may not be the most interesting space to film in. If so, you could also broaden your search by including the homes of your friends. And there may even be people in your extended network with great-looking homes.
Since music videos live in a world where one scene doesn’t necessarily need to connect with the last, you could also take scenes from multiple houses. As long as you plan well and make it look good in post-production, this can work.
2. Backyards And Other Properties You Can Easily Gain Access To
In addition to homes, you can also scope out backyards for potential shooting locations. Extreme’s “King of The Ladies” was filmed almost exclusively in a backyard (some of it was filmed inside a home or a car). It doesn’t look half bad in HD.
But if you think outside the box a little, you might find that there are other locations you could use. You might have parents that work in an office or a place of interest. You might have friends that can get keys to a church or storefront.
You should use some discretion here, and ask for permission when and where possible, but the possibilities can open up pretty quickly when you start thinking about workplaces, clubs, churches, offices, storefronts, concert venues, conventions, and so on.
3. In A Studio
Odds are you’re going to be working with a production crew of some kind. It might be made up of distant cousins, friends, or maybe even your little brother, but regardless of what form it takes, you’re probably going to need some help.
If you know you’re going to be working with a professional, or at least someone you know that’s willing to work with you on the cheap, a studio might provide an interesting location in which to film and express your creativity.
Keep in mind that there are many kinds of studios – photography, filming, or even recording studios. If you have any friends that are in the photography or filming world, they may be able to direct you to relatively sparse environments in which you can capture some interesting footage.
Similarly, you might have your own recording studio, or know somebody that does. It’s hard to make it look like anything other than making-of footage, but if it’s just one among many locations in your video, it can work pretty well.
4. In Your Rehearsal Space
There are plenty of music videos that were filmed in nothing more than a garage, basement, or even in a rented rehearsal space. If you’re going to be showing your band playing their instruments in your video anyway, these environments can work just fine.
If you’re looking for an example, you can check out Weezer’s “In The Garage”.
Your rehearsal space may not be particularly roomy, but this forces you to be inventive with tight angles, close-ups, and so forth.
And while rehearsal spaces can be cluttered, this can sometimes add to the esthetics of the video. Unused or discarded gear, old posters, or tattered furniture can be fun to look at. It all depends on what genre you play, and what you’re going for.
5. Take It To The Streets
At some point, most artists and bands want to take their filming to the streets.
As long as you keep your production crew small and your process simple, you can actually do this relatively inexpensively. You will need a permit, however.
And, fortunately, getting a permit usually isn’t that hard. Call up local governing entities, and they should be able to walk you through the process, or at least point you to the form you need to fill out.
Make sure you know what you can and can’t do. Filming in public places can become a very expensive ordeal if you get caught doing something you shouldn’t be doing. If you want to stick to your budget, go through the proper authorities to get the permission you need to do what you want to do.
Music videos have the potential to be great marketing tools. They can help you expose your music to more people, drive up sales, help you gain more email subscribers, and they can also lead to more live bookings.
As you have already seen, music videos don’t need to be complicated. You just need to be creative in your delivery.
I would suggest avoiding overly literal interpretations of your lyrics, if you have any. This can appear patronizing to your audience. But it is a matter of taste, and if your song is called “Cats and Dogs” and you insist on having lots of cats and dogs in your video, more power to you.