In the age of YouTube, songs are meant to be seen.
While it’s easier than ever to post your masterpiece to the web, the process of making a music video remains the same. As do the most common pitfalls.
How do you make your own music video free of strife? We’ve outlined the pre-production process step-by-step.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to plan a music video shoot, download our free music video script template. We’ll walk you through in step one, but you need to have to follow along.
1. Draft a music video script
As you listen to the song you’re going to cover, your mind starts to fantasize.
You’re gonna use slow-mo there, a close up of a syringe there, a wide shot of a goth drummer there–it’s going to be a weird country music video.
While you’re brainstorming music video ideas, you have to remember to write them down into a music video script.
It’s that simple.
Unlike a traditional screenplay, your music video script should list your visuals on one half of the page, with audio, FX, and lyrics on the other.
Detailed is always better to make sure your vision is properly communicated.
Of course, you can’t have a music video script without some great music videos ideas. Here are 89 ideas to jumpstart your creative juices.
If you haven’t already, you need to fill out your music video script before entering the next step.
2. Break down your music video script
Just like any other type of script, a production staffer (if not you) will have to breakdown your script. Breaking down a script simply means listing out all the elements you’ll need for your shoot.
Are you going to feature a CGI dragon? Sick. But that means you’ll need a VFX crew. When you break down your script, you’d note something like that.
Does your lead singer shred on a guitar? That guitar would be categorized as a prop that needs to be brought to set.
While you flex your creative muscles, production software can auto-generate your breakdown reports which can then be exported into a shooting schedule.
Pro tip: How to create a music video budget
Your completed script breakdown will serve as the basis of your budget. Knowing all the elements you need determines who you’ll need to hire to bring your music video ideas to life. If you’re featuring a series of death-defying stunts your budget will be considerably higher than a live performance capture.
3. Learn how to make a music video storyboard
With your musical artists taking care of the audio, your job as Director primarily extends to the visual.
While a well-written script can easily be turned into a shot list, you need a music video storyboard to pre-visualize your production.
A music video storyboard should take your team through the music video from start to finish.
Having a music video storyboard saves you ample time when you actually get to the set, because you’ll know exactly what you need to capture. You can easily communicate your music video ideas by flashing a single image.
4. Find your shooting location
With musical artists’ schedules constantly in flux, most music videos are shot over the course of two jampacked days. Because of this constraint, it’s not a bad idea to choose one location for your music video.
Shooting at one location will make it easier to coordinate your talent and crew (more on that later) to the set. Shooting in one location saves your designers time because they only have to light and dress your location for one day of shooting.
Scope out locations that suit your music video script and get a running list going. Categorize your locations into a “Reach” pile and “Likely” pile to give yourself options.
Don’t be daunted when reaching out to unlikely locations, you’d be surprised how often people will say yes for free publicity.
How much does it cost to make a music video?
If you’re an indie filmmaker, it can cost anywhere from 5,000 to 500,000 dollars. If you’re a big studio, why are you reading this blog?
If you’re making a video for your own band, chances are you can save money by having your friends hold the camera and flick on the fog machine. With low budgets comes room for innovation as well as an increased risk of bumps in your production process.
5. Hire your film crew
A music video script is nothing without a film crew, ready to hit the ground running. If you’re operating on a low budget, hit up your friends to round out your production.
If you have a budget, check out ProductionBeast to gather your crew together. You can also post an ad on Facebook.
By posting a blurb in these groups, you can land yourself a film crew in your area. Make sure you have plenty of pizzas on the craft services table.
The key roles you’ll need, regardless of your production scale are: your camera person, lighting pro, and director. Outside specialists should be brought on based on your music video script breakdown.
Pro tip: Make sure your crew bring their equipment
If you’re working on a slightly smaller budget than these guys, you’ll want to make sure your crew brings their own equipment to set.
If you’re procuring the equipment yourself, check out BorrowLenses, where you can rent camera and film equipment. Don’t forget to rent extra batteries, memory sticks, and film (if you’re going down that road).
6. Have production insurance policy
Remember when Michael Jackson’s hair caught on fire? That could happen on your set.
In order to protect yourself against liabilities, be sure to purchase short term production insurance for your music video shoot.
We’ve defined the legal mumbo jumbo in our previous post, but getting a short term insurance policy fully covers your limited shoot. It’s unlikely you’ll need an annual policy unless you’re a production company. Learn how to make a music video contract.
At any rate, you should speak to an insurance broker before a dangerous accident occurs.
7. Finalize a shooting schedule
Once you’ve assembled your team of talent and crew, it’s time to figure out when you’re actually going to shoot the damn thing.
From your music video script, you’ll have a clear idea how extensive and complicated your shooting schedule will be. If your shoot is only one day, but encompasses many locations, be sure to account for company moves.
Visualization of shooting script
Before you can make your call sheet (more on that in a second), generate a shooting schedule that gets everyone on set when they need to be. For one day productions, this step is a breeze.
8. Send out your call sheets
It’s hard to keep track of everything on day one of shooting a music video. Crew has to get there before the musicians show up, sound engineers have to set all the equipment with the talent, the list goes on.
Visualization of call sheets
In order to organize the madness, producers send out call sheets to alert everyone when to come to set.
Film production software like StudioBinder can generate call sheets directly from your shooting schedule using your contacts. A well-made call sheet ensures that production will start on time.
Pro tip: Bring an amp to set
You can’t shoot a music video without music. Make sure you not only have a copy of the song on set, but also speakers so the artists can lip sync.
Learning how to make music videos takes time.
By the time you wrap on your first music video and send it off to YouTube, you’ll have learned a million lessons you didn’t know before. Making a music video takes a team of dedicated people who will each challenge hopefully less than frustrate.
Post your music videos in the comments, or just the songs, if you’re starting production.
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Film production software
• Organize talent and crew details
• Create shooting schedules & breakdowns
• Create, send & track personalized call sheets