Originally hailing from Blenheim, Rose Muollo-Gray, aka Hybrid Rose, is a musician, artist and producer who is keen to progress and make change. Having released her debut album ‘Cosmic’ last year, she is currently studying music at Massey University in Wellington. Not the kind of musician prepared to wait for opportunities to present themselves, she creates them herself, just as she recently made her own video to new single Warhol. That spur-of-the-moment achievement led her to pen this how-to piece on DIY music video-making for NZM readers. A new Hybrid Rose album, also called ‘Warhol’, will be out this week.
Are you tired of being a bedroom artist with no money to splurge on a video? Are you a visual artist struggling to speak your truth? Whatever the reason is, I hope my tips and tricks can lead you in the right direction to knowing how to pass your work’s drug test, overcome an embarrassing hangover, while still having the coin to make a music video.
My name is Hybrid Rose, part-time musician, full-time gender bender. We are going to look at the most important parts of DIY music videos because there are ways to do it without even a moderate budget. Almost any musician can cheaply put together a quick and easy music video and still get lots of views!
No matter how big or small, a budget is a crucial part of a music video. You need to know what you can do with the money on hand that is spendable. Currently, I am living that student lifestyle – ramen noodles, fruit and rice. I don’t have the money to spend on a big fancy music video.
I bet you’re wondering, ‘Rose, why don’t you just approach NZ On Air about video funding?’ Well imaginary other half of this conversation, I don’t quite meet all the requirements needed to be supported by suitable evidence. So, for now, I will stick to smothering myself with fairy lights in slo-mo for half an hour to get 4 minutes and 20 seconds of good footage. It doesn’t take a lot to make a good video, sometimes you can just sit there and stare at the camera for 3-4 minutes and occasionally say, ‘yeah!’ Lorde is a master at this.
One thing that almost any budget can generally get you is a set of props! You don’t need to spend a lot of money on props for a music video, a lot of it can just be DIY or stuff you already have. I am not 100% factual on all this information, but if you know October, you will notice she uses a lot of certain things. For example, in her music video for Pure she has a lot of candles on a massive demonic looking sculpture. In her Cherry Cola video, she has a lot of people and a lot of cans of cherry cola, and 1000 Eyes has a lot of TVs and a few colour walls. Take my advice and just buy in (cheap) bulk if you want to show you have a lot going on.
Specialist equipment and operators necessarily cost real money, but with phone technology now so advanced cameras and lights don’t have to be something you need to spend your meagre budget on. These days that phone in your pocket (or your friend’s) likely qualifies as high-quality filming equipment.
Youtubers, bloggers and sometimes musicians use their phones to shoot videos or footage for their videos no problem. A perfect example would be Lana Del Rey. She shot the entire music video for Ultraviolence with her phone, and with no expensive equipment needed it currently sits at 49+ million views on Youtube.
Lights can be a little bit trickier, but still achievable. The general use for lighting is to set an angle or make something look a certain way in a different light. While that can be complicated, depending on the shot you are trying to get just setting and angling your bedroom/lounge lamps or lights carefully can make a huge difference.
Of course, just having those professional operators would certainly add something, and not just to the cost of shooting. But another important consideration when making a cheap DIY music video is to think about the story you are wanting to convey. Is it simply complex? Wouldn’t it be enough just to say one thing? Either way, you don’t necessarily need to invest much into shooting.
Let’s use my music the video for my single Warhol as an example. Needing to urgently supply a video to aid in the song’s online promotion I shot the entire video in roughly 10-15 minutes! What was my secret weapon? The slo-mo effect on the camera app of my iPhone.
I pressed ‘record’, gave myself a second then set to work. I moved my arms around and tried different face angles. In terms of what I could use for a music video, I wanted to play around the idea of ‘letting the light in’. I had some unicorn fairy lights that I first wrapped around my arm and moved that around. Then I wrapped the lights around my head, my neck, my body, my fingers, in my mouth etc.
I filmed it in complete darkness and used the fairy lights to represent my ‘inner spark of hope’ that brought light back into my spirit in the music video. Since the song itself celebrates self-identity, self-expression and creative direction, I painted my face entirely with some silver glitter, then put a full face of makeup overtop of the glitter without ruining it.
Fortunately, there are plenty of movie/video editing software packages that cost no money, and some that offer trials. With Windows Movie Maker discontinued, a free software option for beginners using Windows is OpenShot. It’s very easy to use and good if you’re just looking to put together a quick and easy music video without major effects, but does come with filters and transition overlays for when you’re looking to get a li’l crafty. For Mac users, iMovie can be quite handy and devices like iPhones, iPads and iPods sometimes that app already installed.
In conclusion, you don’t need a lot to make a special music video. Some of the most powerful stories can be told with the smallest detail. If people don’t understand your message you can always learn from that and improve – or simply call it art and say that they just don’t get it. Trust me, we’ve all been there…