November 18, 2013

What Exactly Happens on a Music Video Shoot?

This is a guest post from New York Film Academy, visit their site for more information on film and video education opportunities.

Music video shoots are one of the most exciting collaborative projects imaginable, usually seeing a convergence of numerous skills from across a variety of industries just to make the magic happen. As such, few other places provide so many opportunities to meet and mingle with musicians, film directors, producers and other important people.


If you're interning at a label or studying at somewhere like the NYFA, you have plenty of reasons to be excited when invited to work on a music video. All the same, you might be understandably nervous, too. What will be expected of you? What exactly happens behind the scenes of a music video? The more you know before it starts, the more prepared you'll be if the opportunity arises.

What Goes Into a Music Video
 Given that music videos are essentially short films, they're put together in the same way as any other movie. Prior to filming, there will be storyboarding, location scouting and other types of planning to determine what scenes will be needed in the video and whether there will be a cohesive story behind it or just a series of provocative images. Once all of this has been decided, filming will get underway.

While some music videos will be filmed on location, it's more common that it'll be filmed in a sound studio with a green screen. The musicians will play, sing or lip-synced their roles. During filming, the song that will accompany the video will be played so that the video can later be synced properly. The sound used during filming is called the "scratch track" and will later be removed when music is added during production.

Filming a music video is usually pretty fast once the preliminary work has been done. Music video directors like to save time by shooting quickly, usually keeping several cameras trained on the artists so that there are multiple shots to choose from. You can generally expect a music video shoot to take less than a day or two at most unless it's extremely extensive.

What You Might Need to Do As an Intern
 While the director and artists are working on getting the look of the video just right, there will be plenty of other people working behind the scenes, including makeup artists, roadies, cameramen, boom mic operators and more. Depending on the size of the production, there may be a lot of crew members, or people might be fulfilling multiple roles at one time.


If it's the latter, you can expect yourself to be recruited to help out with various tasks around the set. If it's the former, you'll probably spend more of your time running errands and helping out the others with more inane tasks, like picking up coffee or delivering messages on the set.

Altogether, your role will vary depending on what kind of internship you're completing and what the crew needs. Here are several common tasks you may be charged with as an intern:
  • Helping to set up the sound stage or assemble props 
  • Picking up lunch or coffee for the crew and helping to set up meals or snacks
  • Fulfilling requests from the artists, like retrieving personal effects
  • Loading or unloading instruments and other music equipment 
  • Help tear down the set after the shoot has completed
  • Assisting with technical aspects like wiring or handling the boom
In general, expect to run a lot of errands and complete basic tasks that will help make the process go more smoothly. Picking up donuts for the camera crew may not seem like a very glamorous job, but it's one that most people will be grateful for you to complete. While you're there, you might just get an opportunity to do some valuable networking that can be utilized later in your career.

Just make sure you aren’t forceful with it or come across as desperate, and you never know what might come from a few hours on a soundstage with industry professionals, regardless of what tasks you're assigned. 
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