Saturday, 17 December 2016

Stories from the Set: Hubris Music Video

On location for the Hubris music video shoot. Photo credit: Aperture Alternative

   Why do I like making music videos? With my business head on, I'd say it's because they are a way to use one's short film making skills in a commercial way. But from a personal point of view, I think it's because I wish I was more musical; I come from a musical family and I have a background in musical theatre, but I only play a couple of instruments to a certain level, and my singing voice should be restricted to the shower. So music videos are my way of expressing my musical side, and hopefully contributing to the music industry, without having to stray from my comfort zone.

   So, flashback to 2014. Ian Cudmore, who is much more musically gifted than me, had worked for me and Triskelle Pictures for years, so I definitely felt like I owed him something. He was a member of numerous bands so I offered to create a music video for one of them, as my way of saying thank you for all his hard work. The band he chose was The Oramics Machine, and they had one song in mind to transform into a video: Hubris.

   Now, I love music videos that are all bells and whistles, but I think the most important thing is that the video is true to the story behind the lyrics. The Oramics Machine lead singer Tim Harnor wrote Hubris after he witnessed a particularly volatile argument in a bar - so I suggested we made the video based around exactly that. It also gave me the opportunity to explore a variety of different powerful emotions on camera. Simple didn't mean boring in this case.

   We shot the video back in April 2014, timed purely because the Night Owls shoot had been pushed back to May 2014 and it freed up an ideal slot. The two locations we used for the video were both personal to The Oramics Machine - Bar One, a local pub where they'd regularly perform, and Dubrek Studios, where they'd rehearse and record their songs. 

   The band were happy to appear in the pub scenes as patrons, but (somewhat rightly) believed that performing the song there would be cheesy and distracting from the main story, so Dubrek provided a venue for them to perform the song - which gave me something extra to cut to in the edit.

    Bar One and Dubrek had additional elements we could use - an outdoor 'cinema' in the former, and an art-filled,  sculptural corridor in the latter - which I new I could also work into the edit to create more visual interest.


Filming Katie McMillan during one of many emotional scenes. Photo credit: Aperture Alternative

   I enlisted Katie McMillan to play the lead character (and perpetrator of the staged argument), an actor I had met the previous year when I filmed an episode of her online interview series, Let's Do Tea. In the Hubris video, she had to play a woman who was five shots away from rock bottom, and with all those aforementioned emotions on display, it was a challenging shoot for her. But she gave a raw and convincing performance (so much so that there is at least one take where her outbursts made other cast members jump out of their skin!).

   To play the couple on the receiving end of Katie's rage, I enlisted Jessica Messenger (who I had previously costumed on Wasteland) and then-new-to-me model Nicky Paul Rollett, who had to step in at the last minute. Amongst the lineup of extras were a few friends and cameos, including my Night Owls co-writer Tommy Draper, and the band's fellow musicians, Scribble Victory (who also performed on the Night Owls soundtrack, and who Triskelle Pictures also made a music video for, two years later).

   In spite of the emotional scenes, it was a relatively easy shoot. I had the wonderful Chris Newman behind the lens again, and there was pizza available for the plucky cast and extras on location (although the lovely bar dog Buddy, who usually frequents Bar One, was kept off location for most of the shoot). We also had Ben Wood of Aperture Alternative on set to take all the lush photos you see on this page (the rest are still on Facebook if you want to see them).

   As often happens with most music videos, after the edit the video had to be shelved until The Oramics Machine were ready to release their single and album. And, the band being the perfectionists they are, they didn't finish mixing and remixing Hubris until early this year. But good things come to wait, so, finally, here it is - the official music video of Hubris for The Oramics Machine:



   So, what are my thoughts on the video after all this time? Well, since I don't tend to use SLRs for client shoots anymore, I'm inclined to think the footage has aged a bit, but I think the slightly lower-key look of it really suits the grungey performance footage (plus Chris is such a good DP, he could even make phone footage look awesome!) . This video was also the first time I'd ever graded one of my videos myself (apart from the odd video diary), and I think my skills in that area have improved over the last two years. I also have different editing software to what I used back then, and there are things I'd do with the new software if I had to create the video now. But the story of the video is still perfect for the lyrics and the band, and the performances are great, so if I had to shoot it again, I wouldn't change any of those elements.


   I had a lot of lovely feedback from the band after the video was finished. Bass Guitarist Chris Harrison, who is now an illustrator (his work is really cool - check it out on Instagram) - even sent me this note, which is awesome:



  Right, now I need to get back to the Songbird edit (we're on the second cut now). I'm certainly not tired of making music videos yet, in any way, so if you or anyone you know would like one, please send them my way!

Sophie


EDIT: Sadly, since finishing their album and releasing their video, The Oramics Machine have decided to call it a day. They were a great band to work with and to watch perform (I even did a live gig recording for them very early on in my film career) so it's a shame to see them retire. But it's been a pleasure creating this video for them, and I'm happy to have played a small part in their swansong. Thanks for the memories, boys!

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