Before I talk about our recently filmed music video, I’m going to quickly talk about my friend Ben Caplan’s new album.
Music and the arts in general get criticism in various forms, depending on who you listen to or what you read. Apparently it’s ‘not what it used to be’, there’s no longer enough support – either from audiences (live music venues are closing, theatres are struggling to put bums on seats) or the powers that be (successive governments have cut funding to the arts, while the Musician’s Union is continuously fighting on behalf of its members to try and stop the erosion of musician’s rights and fees).
Others would (could) argue that creativity is being stifled by our obsession with money; many artists can no longer afford to dedicate themselves fully to their craft, while record labels will often drop an act as soon as they suspect that their debut album will fail to reach the level of sales that they had hoped for; even though the label probably didn’t invest that much in the act in the first place. Obviously this is a fairly cynical outlook, but these are all arguments or discussions I’ve had over the last few years, and there’s no doubt there have been easier times to try and forge your way in the creative world. Not that it has deterred me so far.
Canadian Ben Caplan has managed to sustain life as a full-time musician. He’s built a very credible fan base by releasing superb, original music and touring much of the world. However, this has been far from easy for him; when he’s not performing, rehearsing or recording, he’s likely to be at his laptop or phone, securing funding, booking gigs, radio interviews, pushing social media etc. Like many independent artists I know, he works HARD, and I don’t think your average punter realises what goes on behind the scenes to keep such a project ticking over. Particularly when they’re telling you they don’t really want to pay £10 for your album; a CD which probably cost £10,000 and two years of hard work to produce! Thankfully, Ben is doing great and you can order his new second album ‘Birds with Broken Wings’ from his website. I was lucky enough to get an early listen a few months ago in Paris and it’s brilliant.
New Storey Music Video
Semi-serious industry rants aside, I’d like to report on another recent positive story. As you may have read from many of our recent FACEBOOK or TWITTER posts, we in ‘Storey‘ are most of the way through writing and recording our third album, ‘Echoes of Time‘. We’re very excited about it and although it’s been a number of years in the making, we’re all confident that our hard work will result in a product that we’ll be immensely proud of.
At this late stage, we’re balancing as many admin jobs as we are musical – artwork, iTunes, remixes – the list is long, and I won’t bore you with it here. One recent task was to film a music video for the first single – ‘Promise of You‘. To keep costs down we approached some students at the London Film School and after meeting a couple of candidates, we chose a young guy called Harry Baker who is graduating this year. Not only had Harry taken the time to form definite ideas of a video concept based upon his perception of the song, he’d been good with communication and much to my surprise he’d lived most of his life in Peterborough. I say ‘surprise’ because although Liam and I also grew up close to Peterborough, Harry’s rather well spoken accent couldn’t be further from our half-cockney, semi-country-bumpkin drawl!
Harry had been meticulous with his planning – scouting locations and planning a fairly ambitious story using a number of actors, crew and a make-up artist – Mackenzie Hodge – who accompanied us all weekend, making the actors appear even more beautiful than they looked upon arrival. I should note that she didn’t go near the three of us with her make-up bag or straighteners, so I can only assume that means she thought we already looked great! 😉 Her website is here: www.mackenziehodge.com.
Our leading male was the fiendishly handsome George Johnson who has a number of cool credits to his name, and through talking to him over the course of the weekend I garnered that he is also a keen cyclist. So much so that he runs a cycle safety blog, which promotes green living, so I would like to link to it – twowheelsgood-fourwheelsbad.blogspot.co.uk. I was impressed that when George had some time off between scenes he walked to Ealing Studios to sit an audition. It showed commitment to his career that he would do that during ‘down time.’
To view the photo album which accompanies this blog, please click HERE.
Our lead female was Peterborough girl Lianne Harvey (that was four of us on set!) Lianne has recently featured on Channel 4, and she is exactly what you’d want from your story’s leading lady – strikingly beautiful, but more importantly a convincing actress. It was only when I saw the first edit of the video did I realise how good she and George were, and we were lucky to have such talented, yet generous and friendly people as the focal points of our music video.
The Talented Crew
Our music video had one final actress, Maria Balduzzi who generously gave up her Saturday evening for a few shots. But it didn’t stop there. Harry was ably supported by assistant director Joachim Neef, and DOP Liu Chao. There were also two wonderfully hardworking and knowledgeable set assistants in Aisli Demirbilek and Jun-Yu. The crew were quiet and serious but gave the impression that they really knew their stuff; attention to detail was paramount with their decision making, and they handled some very intimidating looking equipment with real control. All proven with the quality of the video they’ve produced – I just wish we could release it now, rather than wait until the album is ready!
You may be wondering what this has to do with the themes discussed at the start of my blog… As I’ve already discussed, the creative arts and music industries can be difficult places to work; the demands can be great for little financial return. And despite the fact we didn’t know ANY of the cast or crew before the first day of the shoot, everyone I’ve mentioned gave up their time, energy and undoubted expertise for a very small immediate return. Yet you would never guess so based upon how hard everyone worked for each other and the high spirits everyone kept themselves in for two long and relentless days.
For that Joe, Liam and I are extremely grateful and we hope that the music video can assist them in some small way as well. Sometimes you will come across good people who are genuinely talented but able to see the bigger picture. This was one occasion where we were lucky to do so and it made me feel lucky to have chosen to work in such an industry. I’ve also realised while writing this blog that cast, crew and band combined consisted of A German, A Chinese, A Taiwanese, A Turk, an Italian, and six English including four from Peterborough. And poor Joe is from Essex. 🙂 This was a multicultural project!
Before I close this music video themed blog, I’d like to thank some old friends from Ealing who graciously allowed us to use their home/shop/bar as locations for various shots. We literally took over with piles of equipment, food and instruments – namely John at Gardonyi’s Music, Sam and Jane at the S.E.C.C, Jan Moorhouse and Ingrid Muir. The whole weekend would not have worked without your patience and kindness, so thank you.
The final word should be about Harry. His team were brilliant, but the fact he was able to pull together such amiable and talented people to work so hard for him (and us) for very little is testament to his character. While he and his crew were hard at work, Liam, Joe and I were following them around like kids on a school trip, waiting to be called into a scene and were probably very distracting at times. Hopefully we weren’t too unbearable, but I do know that sitting me at a piano for 20 minutes for a scene and hoping I won’t make any (LOTS) of noise is like giving a three year old a big piece of fluorescent candy floss and asking them not to eat it – it’s not going to happen! Despite our constant jokes, he continued to humour us and keep the crew motivated. I’ve no doubt he’ll do well in his career and that’s before taking into account his technical skill as a video director. Harry, we salute you!
The Music Video
Thankfully since publishing this article, the video has been finished and you can watch it below. Joe also took the time to upload a cool photo album from the weekend to our band Facebook page. You can see it HERE. And if you’re a band looking for a director, a director looking for an actor or an actor looking for a make-up artist then please look no further than the people listed above. They’ll do you proud.
Please feel free to leave a comment or say hello via TWITTER.
Take it easy… Arron