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Best Music Video Directors

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How to direct music videos

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Best Music Video Directors

This topic is all personal preference and opinion. I based my picks on who had made my Favorite Videos of All Time list, as well as who had made The Most Epic Music Videos of All Time list. I also based my decision on what these directors are doing now; were they able to evolve and keep up with the times or was their career success a one trick pony? For these reasons, my Music Video Directors list is only going to include three directors.

  Number Three on my list is Michael Bay, known for his blockbuster hits Bad Boys (1995) and Transformers (2007). Bay got his start in music videos and was responsible for one of most groundbreaking music videos of all time: “I’d Do Anything for Love” (sung by Meatloaf) in 1993. I remember watching that video every time it came on, and it was like watching a feature film or rock opera.

Number Two on my best music video directors list list is Spike Jonze. Jonze has made my two favorite music videos of all time: “Buddy Holly” (sung by Weezer, 1994) and “Sabotage” (sung by the Beastie Boys, 1994). Both videos are extremely entertaining and have huge lasting power. Both are set in time periods at least 30 years prior to their filming dates, which ultimately prove that content and not timely or modern “flash” is king. It’s not always about huge budgets; a simple, interesting, fun concept is what matters at the end of the day, as well as the ability of that video to connect with the artist’s audience. Spike Jonze has also had tremendous success in the film industry, with such silver screen hits as Being John Malkovich (1999) and Her (2013). It’s no surprise considering that everything he has ever directed has such an original feel. Even his more recent music videos–such as “Weapon of Choice” (sung by Fatboy Slim, 2001)–retain that unique quality.

Number One on my best music video directors list is David Fincher. David Fincher, in my opinion, has the best track record of groundbreaking music videos. He is responsible for “Vogue” (sung by Madonna, 1990), “Freedom” (sung by George Michael, 1990), and “Janie’s Got A Gun” (sung by Aerosmith, 1994). His epic success with music videos has translated over to film; he has directed The Game (1997), Seven (1995), Fight Club (1999), and the Social Network (2010). 

Music Video Companies

Ultimately, there aren’t that many successful working music video companies out there. The people who have found most success in this line of business are those who have worked by themselves and have outsourced what they have needed when they needed it. I think this is directly correlated to the nature of this line of work. You never really know when your next music video is going to be booked. You can have five music videos scheduled to film in one month and then not another for the next three months. It all depends on availability and timing in this industry, as well as potential clients’ ability to find you. On this same note, there really is no such thing as “great” cheap music video production out there… although there is certainly a need for it! This results in finding a lot of directors who work by themselves rather that incorporate a larger crew in order to save money for artists. Sometimes this is successful; sometimes it is not. My favorite music video company right now is Daniels, the duo who is responsible for the wild DJ Snake & Lil Jon video “Turn Down for What.” If you have not seen this video yet do yourself the favor and take the time for a good laugh. 

Music Video Producer

You’re going to be hard pressed to find the best music video producer. Most directors in this industry are their own producer, especially when working with independent artists. You would be more likely to find a music video producer within a music video company. In this industry, people have to wear multiple hats for years because you never know what kind of budget the artist is going to be working with. Sometimes there is room for a ten person crew, and sometimes there is just room for one person on the crew. Also, producers don’t get any of the real credit; it’s all about the director in this world. You will see the director’s name on the video most of the time and never the producer’s. 

If you are looking for a music video producer and director be sure to give us a call and check out our work on our portfolio page. 

If you just love music videos and want to watch them all be sure to check out the music video database by clicking the blue link. This will give you an endless amount of music videos to view. Music Video Companies

 

 

 

How to direct music videos from Gordon Cowie Films on Vimeo.

How to direct music videos

I would generally never suggest that an artist shoots his or her own music video. If you are trying to take your career to that top level, I think it’s mandatory to find a good music video director. With that being said, I do understand that this is not always an option for everyone because of budgetary reasons; hopefully, I can provide you with some basic guidance on directing your videos.

First things first: if you’re shooting your own video, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Worrying endlessly about how to come up with an original concept will get you nowhere. I’ll let you in on a little secret: there is no original concept out there, only mashups of different videos. Some of these concepts have small budgets and some have big budgets; regardless, everything has already been created. If you think you’ve generated an original idea, you more than likely have just not yet stumbled on the source which did it “first.” My first piece of advice would be to pick out three to four different music videos that you love and you feel would be a good fit for your song and use them as inspiration. Sometimes the best way to tell if an old concept is good for your video is to mute the music video and play your song over it. This should give you a sense of how your video would feel with this type of video, particularly in terms of imagery and pacing. Now I’m not suggesting that you take one video and copy it completely, but what I am recommending is that you find multiple videos you like and “steal” the best parts of each. It’s a well know fact of life: if you steal from just from one artist, you will be considered a thief, but if you steal from multiple sources, you will be considered an original. Consider that this form of homage already exists in your music. If you just got your inspiration from Brittany Spears, critics would (at best) say that you are going to be the next Brittany Spears. If you combined Lady Gaga, Sam Smith, and Brittany Spears as your inspirations, you would be hailed as a revolutionary. That is the most important piece of information I could give you on the pre-production side of things. As far as music video editing techniques, there are too many to cover here. To keep things simple, always be editing to the music. This means that you must make sure your cuts in the song go to beat of the music. This will give you a good flow in your editing and make the video have the same pace as the song. 

Cheap Music Video Production

One of the biggest benefits of hiring someone to make your video is them providing the equipment to shoot the video. If you’re lucky and you know someone with decent filming equipment, you better hope they are willing to film the video for you. Learning to properly use a specific camera correctly can take months of time, especially if it’s a high-end camera. If you are trying to keep it cheap, go straight for your iPhone. There is no point in investing $500 to $1000 (which is on the low end of an equipment budget!) on a camera. You’re not going to get anything that is any better then your iphone for that price. Another thing to consider is that costs add up quick for camera equipment, especially when you take into account the need for lighting, lenses, tripods, a dolly, and an editing workstation. For all of these tools, you are looking at dropping $8000 at minimum. Being a music video videographer is not a cheap business, and to make this worse, all of your new equipment  will be irrelevant within four years tops. Cheap music video production looks like filming a music video on an iphone or DSLR these days, but even if you go with a cheap DSLR package, you’re are looking at about $2500 just to get the camera and basic lens. You won’t get the 4K quality, but you will be able to deliver content to your audience. Cheap music video production doesn’t really exist, so if you find a music video director with extremely low rates, you will soon discover that the product matches the cost. 

Music Video Directing

Music video directing is no easy task, and if someone is telling you that they can make you a good video with no music video experience, they are kidding themselves. There are so many aspects to making a music video that people don’t realize. You have to put together a budget, storyboard, cast actors, scout locations, acquire insurance, generate waivers for actors, get permits, plan the cinematography and lighting, find a proper crew, hire a steadicam operator, edit the video, handle color correction, and export the final product. On a true film set, that’s one job per person (or multiple people) for every item I listed there, and that doesn’t include craft services. Learning how to direct music videos takes years of experience, but if you want to give it a shot, the best piece of advice I could give  is to just go for it. You will learn the most by attempting and failing to make a video–more than you could ever learn from some book. 

Learning how to direct music videos comes with time. If you don’t believe me, check out our portfolio in the link below. Watch our first videos compared to our most recent work. You will notice a huge difference in the quality on all sides of the production.

How to direct music videos

I’m of the “just do it” attitude, but if you are looking for more education on this topic, a great resource is the nofilmschool website. Just click the link to learn more. We hope this information will start to guide you on to how to direct music videos.

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