In March of this year, I was approached by Tokyo-band Nothing to Declare to create a music video for the title track off their upcoming record “Are You Where You Are”. The band had a tight deadline due to the fact that they had already been in talks with another director and had started scheduling shoots and release dates, but unfortunately this director had ended up not working out for them.
The band had come up with an overall concept of “feeling lost and splitting from one’s own body”, and wondered how we could pull it off. We had a meeting to discuss the ideas in more detail, and we began to outline the potential visual execution of this particular concept as well as scheduling. Essentially, I had just over a week to book a studio and plan the shoot. On such short notice it was difficult to find a suitable studio within budget, but luckily I was able to find something within the city for a reasonable price.
I planned out the shoot quite precisely, making sure that we got all the coverage we needed to make the video work when it came time to editing. As the story of this video revolved around the singer Mas falling out of himself, I decided to shoot it in black & white in order to give the video a distinct feeling, and I thought that the contrast of B&W would further highlight the internal battle that he is experiencing in the story.
We shot everything in one day in front of a white cyc (basically a studio with a big white wall), and rearranged the setting according to what we needed to shoot. The benefits of shooting a white cyc were that we could have both bright and dark lighting setups and that it would be easy to edit out the edges of the frame in post-production. I wanted to create a feeling of vast surrounding white space, so we had to flip the band around between takes to make it work (we had to pay close attention to the angles of all the band members).
Thankfully I had my friend Lilou (of Panic Ball Productions) to help out as 1st AC/Grip. She was able to help setup and control lighting and focus as I was working as both the Director and Cinematographer during the shoot. For our master shot, we used the house lights for a general/base exposure. We used a set of Litepanels Caliber fresnel LEDs for some spot hard lights (and our eye lights), as well as a Litepanels 1×1 for subtle fill for our individual shots. We also brought out the black side of a reflector for negative fill for the individual member takes.
I shot the whole video on the Sony PXW-FS5 with the Atomos Shogun Inferno monitor outputting RAW to DCI 4K (ProRes HQ 422), in both 24 & 60fps. I rented a set of Canon CN-E cinema lenses (24mm, 50mm & 85mm) from Panic Ball Productions, with Lilou pulling focus wirelessly during the handheld takes. I actually recorded the video in colour, but as you can see in the pictures, I used a B&W LUT in order to get a good visual how the video would look in the final version (it also allowed the band to get a better idea of what I was going for).
In the end I only wish I had more time so that I could have captured even more of the band, as I loved the space and especially the song, so it would have been great to have even more. I got to play a lot with the edit, adding a few different effects to really emphasise the mood that we were going for. It was a really enjoyable experience to put this video together for the band, and I’m looking forward to the next time we work together.