Just one look on YouTube and the mind begins to boggle as to how many music videos are commissioned and filmed each and every week. Yet still, time and time again we see a Music Video that blows us all away.
The short answer is that the music video is both an incredibly limited and totally open platform; it forces the makers to get creative quickly or just not bother at all.
The key limiter is time. While even short films are flexible and TV is at the very least a twenty minute affair, music videos are much, much shorter. With the pressure from music TV channels to keep the videos short (so they can cram more in), director’s aren’t, as a rule, given the ability to wander with a time frame, and take all the time they need to tell their story.
While the internet can allow for extended versions and director’s cuts, the need for a striking video that clocks in at less than 5 minutes adds a layer of pressure. The best use this to thrive, while the simply capable struggle and simply produce function videos. That’s not meant as an insult, but an observation.
While the cinematic world isn’t so constrained as something as petty as a time frame, this is an extremely desirable trait in anyone in the creative industry. Whether it’s directing, editing or writing, a lack of waffle is always preferred.
It’s not enough though to be clear and concise in the music video world though, now more than ever with the rise of Vevo, YouTube and other video websites throwing more videos at the viewer than they could possibly watch.
Hence why many music videos try to tell a little story, a mini movie if you will. Testing a director’s ability to tell a tale using only visuals, creating a successful video this way can open many a door.
It all comes back to visual panache. Seeing more than just a band sat their playing the song is needed now, any director wanting to show their worth is expected to see something else entirely. A way to make it stick in a mind for hours. If you can cause them to talk about it, then that’s even better.
A unique visual style or at least something completely against the norm is a great start. Green Day found real success with their video for Boulevard of Broken Dreams, simply due to its ‘grindhouse’ visual aesthetic.
A truly unique look can also completely transcend the need for a mini storyline, such as Michel Gondry’s fantastic video of The White Stripe’s Fell In Love With a Girl made entirely out of Lego.
Gondry himself embodies the single greatest creativity provider in the music video world. That absolutely everything and anything is permitted. Throughout his music video career Gondry has made other surrealists seem dull. The freedom given to him by a lack of plot or dialogue lets him really spread his wings.
He’s not the only one; many have also revelled in the relative lack of structure offered by the music video. Here in lies the secret to why true genius excels in the music video world, the artistic licence offered is simply un-matched. It's no surprise that Spike Jonze has returned to the medium.
Tough, but so incredibly rewarding, it’s clear to see quite why so many of Hollywood’s biggest and brightest cut their teeth on MTV.
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith