While I’ve Been Away (and Why)

If I’m going to have a gap in blog posting, I suppose incessant production is a good reason to have one. My partner and I had been speaking with several of our favorite band clients on several video projects for a while. It just so happened they all came together at the same time.

In December, we shot four videos over three days for two bands. We took one day off which I spent sleeping and largely unconscious and then sprang into an edit so the client could meet an industry deadline they were gunning for. It was a ton of work – but fun work – and the only thing that saved me was the weeks of planning and thinking through various scenarios that I’d done. I was well prepared.

For the Rocket Scientists we’ve already shot a video for their track “She’s Getting Hysterical.” I’m proud of that one. They came to me with a song that could sound like it had a “bitches be crazy” theme. In fact it’s about a beloved dog who becomes agitated as she dies. I decided to flip the first perception on its head and make the video story about a girl who thinks she’s in a great relationship with a controlling, angry man. Her sisters know better and when she learns she’s worth more and dumps the guy (who kept accusing her of getting hysterical while she was perfectly calm) the girls all celebrate with a good old fashioned ‘hot girls dance with the band’ interlude. After all, I can only take video feminism so far!

For this video, “It’s Over,” the song is about a father’s frustration in lack of connection with his teen daughter thanks to smart phones and social media. As the video came together and pushed forward unexpectedly, I found myself house-sitting in a friend’s gorgeous Hollywood bungalow outfitted in her signature flowers-and-lace granny style. In true indie filmmaker style, I made the most of the resources at hand. I got my friend’s permission to shoot (see also: my short Hugo which was shot in her previous house) and told the guys the video story was this: Granny has died and her son, a father himself, brings his teen daughter with him to help mourn Granny’s passing and connect with her. The kid’s absorbed in her phone and they fight but what he doesn’t see until later is that she is mourning in her own way: posting about all the great stuff she’s learning about her grandma.

We knocked out the performance parts of the song early (full band, two shots, close ups of each member, cutaways) so that when the actress playing the daughter (my beautiful and talented friend, Niki Black) arrived, we could jump straight into the story between her and the singer/dad. That was the song we edited after a day of rest and have posted. Thanks to generous and hard-working friends, the whole thing was as smooth as possible. And I learned the lesson that always is there to be learned: there is no such thing as too much coverage. And my other favorite lesson: if you’re flexible and creative, you can come up with an alternate edit when a story point that’s too close to home needs to be changed. Flexibility and Creativity are definitely the two oars of the indie filmmaker’s boat.

We spent the rest of the weekend shooting the performance sections of two more videos. One set-up featured band members in the Spanish archways of my friend’s front yard. The second featured the band in the lush setting of the back yard garden filled with ornate lanterns. We’ll be shooting the story part of that one this weekend and I look forward to sharing it with you!

About heidihornbacher

A graduate of UCLA’s screenwriting program, Heidi has written numerous features, treatments, and TV pilots for various independent producers. She’s judged for the Slamdance Film Festival screenwriting contest and co-founded the Slamdance Script Clinic. She and her husband founded PageCraft Writing in 2008 offering script coaching and writing retreats in LA and Italy. Her clients have gone on to find representation, win contests, and become working writers. Heidi has written, directed, and produced numerous commercials, music videos, and electronic press kits for various artists. She’s currently making a documentary film about British artist Paul Whitehead.
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