Behind the Scenes: Filming a Music Video for Keep The Rain
BEHIND THE SCENES
When my latest EP, Release The Ghost, came out in October of 2017 an old friend contacted me. He's a long time Los Angeles based director/producer and said that "Keep The Rain" would be a perfect fit for the soundtrack of their upcoming feature length film. I didn't hesitate to agree to participate; how could I resist?
But then, it got better. He offered up some of his team to film a music video for "Keep The Rain" to promote both the film and my music. I was beyond elated.
I decided to drive down to LA and the 6 hour drive -- a drive I have previously dreaded taking -- flew by. I was shaking with anticipation for what was ahead.
I had an opportunity to stay at a dear friend and old bandmate's apartment. You may remember a sweet little sunshine pop duo I had ages ago called Light Fiction? I spent a week with Evan and all my downtime when I wasn't shooting (look at me, already sounding like I'm part of the industry!) was spent singing songs and giggling. It was such a cathartic release for my spirit.
We filmed at 4 different locations over the course of 4 days, mostly in the sunsetting hours for that extra special lighting. They call it "magic hour" for a reason, but I felt particularly bewitched by creativity and excitement.
All the photos and videos I post are, for the most part, filmed and edited by me. I set up a tripod, I click the self-timer, I review and I edit. It's an entirely different experience having people around to give you direction and shine lights in your face. I thought I would be more nervous, but Danny and Kirk (the director/producers) were warm and lovely and it felt more like hanging out and making art with a couple of friends. Every once in a while they would show me clips of what they filmed and I found that so very reassuring. It helped me gain perspective on what I look like on camera while everything is in motion. The shots they were capturing were so stunning, too. This must be what sports fiends feel when someone scores a point in a game. We would watch a shot and then all cheer together afterwards. Like, YES! We got it! Go team.
One of the days we shot in the ocean. Actually in the ocean. It just so happened to be the one day of the week that was super windy and relatively cold by LA standards. We were shooting during sunset and I got a taste of what those Sports Illustrated swimsuit models must feel like when they feign summer-warmed expressions while dipping into winter waters. I was shaking off-camera but on-camera, you'd think we were in Hawaii.
Looking back at it, it's kind of funny that you can will your brain to disregard things like the cold. But, this song is so important to me, and the experience was so important, it's all I could focus on. In the moment, there was nothing else but the song and me. It is a beautiful memory. You know what's funny, though? The colder I got, the harder it was to remember my own lyrics. I must have sang that song 200 times over the course of the 4 days that you'd think the lyrics were etched on my bones. I guess at some point your brain takes over and is like, "What do you want? Internal core temperature or these lyrics... don't answer, I'll choose for you."
Bless Danny and Kirk's hearts for listening to that song on repeat for 4 days and not murdering me. Champions. I can happily say that I still love that song. I listened to the album today. It's such a solid piece of art. I'm really proud of it.
The final day may have been my favorite. We hiked up to the top of a mountain in the Pacific Palisades. On one side you can see the whole of Santa Monica and the ocean. On the other, the layered scalloped gradient of mountains backlit by a setting California sun. I was feeling so overwhelmingly grateful and present that I was ignited with a buzzing energy. In the previous days I had frequently had to stand in one spot while filming so that they could light me with a reflective bounce board. But this day was different. I was free to dance and move around. The performing is my favorite part, so it was incredible to let loose a bit and really get into the movement of the song. Towards the end of the day, the sun was going down quickly, and we had an opportunity to put the camera on a gimbal and dance around, spinning circles, performing as if it was the last time. And it was. It was such a release to be singing the words, feeling the power of my art, knowing that I am capable of creating beauty. That there are people who are wanting to hear the songs I've created.
Outside of the incredibly gratifying experience of creating something beautiful to showcase my art, I appreciated the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time with people I don't know that well. After shooting, we'd go back to Kirk's house and hang out with his family. I was positively enchanted by his 12 year old step-daughter. She is so full of creativity, precocious thought, and well formed opinions. She would speak openly with me about her world, her friends, interests, and experiences. She left me wondering if all 12 year old kids are so brilliant. My memory of being 12 is so fuzzy. All that's left is an impression of shaky awkwardness, bumbling unstable emotions, and a aching desire to find my place in the world. She gave me hope.
My week in LA, and my past two months, have likely been two of the most rewarding months of my life so far. It's the first time I have given myself permission to spend around-the-clock time focusing on creating art and feeding my passion. I find it disorienting and confusing at times. For instance, I still haven't quite figured out how to create a schedule for myself. There are a lot of hurdles I'm not exactly sure how to clear. But, I like the challenge. And this particular puzzle is one worth solving.
THE ROAD AHEAD
I'm writing new music. I'm collaborating with other artists. I'm embarking on a few different creative projects, one of which was started this week. I told people on Instagram to suggest songs for me to sing and then I recorded them shortly thereafter. Some of the songs I didn't know and that created a kind of challenge I've never experienced before: publishing something that's not yet anywhere near perfect. It was a great lesson in letting go and accepting flaws, mistakes, and mishaps. I was much more gentle with myself in this process because it was intended to be fast and fun. It wasn't intended to be perfect. I've decided to make this a weekly experiment and I was really pleased with the positive feedback and requests for future songs. I also just love connecting with people and having an insight into their lives and music they love. It's a great tool to actual build relationships and engagement. My favorite parts of my day are when I get to connect with other people, especially if it revolves around music.
Last but not least, I started scheduling shows! I have my first show happening Sunday, July 22nd at Martuni's. I co-hosted a monthly queer singer-songwriter showcase at Martuni's for 6 years called Homophonic. The venue of Martuni's is truly a home for me. This will be my first time performing a full-length solo show there. I'm excited to have my first show be at a place that has so many sentimental attachments.
I'll be donating 50% of ticket sales to The Trevor Project. They're a non-profit who help LGBTQ and questioning young adults with mental health help including suicide prevention. Mental health is a topic near and dear to my heart --a post for a different time-- and I'm happy to include a fundraiser with this show. I'd love to see you there! The Facebook event is here. You can donate to the cause and buy tickets here.
I also have a few big shows in progress for the fall. I'm also looking in to doing some shows in LA, Denver, and Austin. I'll keep you updated once they're locked in.
If you've made it this far, thank you for reading and for sharing an interest in my journey. I hope you're finding it as entertaining as I am while experiencing it!