Dig Baton Rouge

Music: Student filmmakers create music videos for local bands

Aspiring filmmaking students had the opportunity to create top-quality music videos for bands in Louisiana through the second annual Music Video Production Project.

Organized by the New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC) with support from the Arts Council of Baton Rouge and the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation, the project choose bands and filmmakers to lead a crew of students through the pre to post-production process of creating a professional music video.

This is a recurring project that has helped musical groups increase their marketing and presence. Last year NOVAC produced three videos for Meschiya Lake & The Little Big Horns, Feathermeal and Cha Wa, which premiered on the big screen at Sync Up Cinema 2015. This year NOVAC has expanded to the Capital City and the videos will again be screened at Sync Up Cinema, which occurs at Jazz Fest in New Orleans, and also at The Baton Rouge Blues Festival. The students were guided by local filmmakers from start to finish on the music videos in order to gain real hands-on experience. For some of the students involved in the class, it was an opportunity for them to expand their knowledge base and learn from other professionals.

“I dab in doing video stuff on my own,” said Ernest Pollard, one of the students from the course. “I write and produce music and I’ve always wanted to learn how to do the videos along with them. This was the perfect chance for me to actually get to learn from people who really know what they’re doing.”

“I help manage a band, so it’s nice to experience that side of it,” said Chasidy Morris, a fellow student who directs and produces as well. “So I’m putting all my skills together and figure out what I can do with them.”

The intro-level class went through a training process from start to finish in creating a music video including going over concept ideas with clients, how to do initial story boards, going over gear and on set lighting and camera techniques. Cinematographer Matt Bell from the production company Fable House was brought in to oversee the camera and lighting aspects of the course.

“The thing I hope they take away from [the course] is to get comfortable walking onto a set for the first time,” Bell said. “They’re going to be learning forever. As long as they’re in the business, they’ll always be learning every time they step on set, but it’s that initial walk on that you get under your belt, and once you have that you’re good to go.” The featured performers from Baton Rouge this year are Kenny Neal and Boogie Long who will use the videos as a tool to promote their work. The concepts for the music videos included different themes, which created different approaches to how the videos were filmed.

“Because we had the chance to have the students do two music videos, they’re two totally different productions,” Bell said. “For Kenny Neal coming from the family aspect and wanting it to be about that, it almost kind of turned into a documentary… Then going to Boogie, he wanted this fun interpretation of his lyrics, so it turned into tableau setup style.”

The tableau setup for Boogie was at a club for one of his live performances where he did physical interpretations of his lyrics. For Neal, family and the history of the blues were key elements to work into his video. With that in mind, the video was filmed as a family crawfish boil which had several generations gathered for the event.

“I was extremely impressed,” Bell said. “It worked extremely well in this case because Kenny essentially dressed the set himself. So it came even more from that family vibe. Like he dressed little area bits of the stage and his whole family brought all these classic cars, which I didn’t expect kind of thing, and to have that as background elements worked really well.”

For the students, the class offered them a chance to enhance their skills, and discover newfound areas of interest they may not have had before, such as location scouting. While a lack of technical know-how may have been a challenge, the students gained more knowledge than before from working on the set.

“I learned a lot about lighting,” Morris said. “Going in, probably the only thing I knew or experienced with lighting was in high school I worked the spotlight and I’ve done Bounce before, but it was never explained to me why this was needed or not, and so having Matt explain different tools and what you want to visually see was a big help.”

“We did do so much in such a short time,” Pollard said. “I have a camera, but it’s a DSLR camera, so it doesn’t work exactly as what we were using, but I learned a lot about how to manipulate the camera, even my camera, to be able to take some of the shots we took.”

The videos are currently in the editing stage and will be premiere during the 2016 Baton Rouge Blues Festival.

Photo courtesy of Jillian Hall.

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