Making Music Videos That Count
Making Music Videos that count was an important consideration when I first picked up a camera. We wanted our folio to grow with work that would inspire us and attract talent to work with us that pushed us higher up the food chain.
In the early days of putting shoots together, back in 2002, (even before youtube) we’d put absolutely everything we had in the tank into a shoot. What I mean by this is we’d load in at 5am – work for 16 hours then think about eating/resting and clearing up the trail of absolute chaos that lay in the wake of the production. Our videos were getting better each month that went by – we were certainly learning big lessons, but our bodies and minds were getting tired with the work and this led to one of the most important lessons we learned early on. The importance of planning a schedule that would allow us to do this job long term and not crumple us due to exhaustion.
We had to put in serious stakes in the ground that allowed us to work to a standard 10 hour day and still achieve the results we had been getting. Making music videos that count with less time meant we would have to get smart with the way we worked and we soon realised that this new way of working would be the absolute gold standard in terms of developing our team and skill set.
Firstly we realised that we needed more bodies on set. We brought in people to Sitcom Soldiers who would look after each other as we went along. Everyone being brought into Sitcom Soldiers at the time was being introduced to the team because of one very important asset – a childlike enthusiasm for the work. Adding to a team that is already functioning well is a dangerous business, but we knew we would have to adapt and grow if we were to stand the test of time and enjoy it while we did.
Another key aspect of this plan looked at how we were feeding ourselves during the day. Buying fresh food for our clients and cooking it on location began our first taste of proper client hospitality. First clients would look at the budget and see catering and immediately say “we don’t need that”. But we learnt quickly, that the better we could feed people the more energy they would have to create remarkable results. Our clients learnt this and our meal inclusions began to be the epicentre of the start of our day and if you’ve ever had a Sitcom Soldiers breakfast you’ll know that it’s hard to beat.
We also recognised that in order to work to a 10 hour day we would have to be a super organised, slick systematic group of people who would always be able to have each others back no matter what. Having more of a deadline forced everyone to work smarter and support our crew in better ways. We would switch around the team and put people who were doing 4 jobs before into one single discipline to focus on.
The more we experimented with the dynamic, the more things improved and since 2002 that’s going on for 17 years of improvements which is a lot of change. We began to see bands who would come to visit us starting with maybe 200 plus on a past video and the videos we were making were racking up plays of over 50,000 hits, then 200,000, then with Deaf Havana “Friends Like These” we had our first video which had over a million views relatively quickly. More recently we’re used to pushing views to over 20 million and this is a credit to the team we’ve built and the lessons we’ve learnt along the way.
Our most important assets are the team we work with and the ideas they bring to the table. Understanding everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and where they can take a little more of the load in one place but need protection in another place. We consistently push ourselves out of the comfort zone in order to grow but not too much that we fall.
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