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  • Writer's pictureMadeleina Kay

Filming a Music Video (for Someone Else!)

Updated: Dec 17, 2023

I met Luke Martin in a chance encounter at the Peace and Craft Fair at Sheffield Town Hall in December 2023. When he asked me if I could film some footage for his music video - I was keen to be involved...

I went to the Peace and Craft Fair to see my Dad who has, in his retirement got more involved with Extinction Rebellion, who had a craft activity happening as part of the fair. He introduced me to one of his colleagues who was managing the stall where people were block printing XR designs onto items of clothing. I asked her if I could film some footage and a brief interview with her and she kindly obliged.

Luke was on the adjacent stall, where he was selling his home made Carribean sauces. We got chatting and he asked me if I would be available to do some filming for him with my Gimble, since he didn't have one and he also couldn't film himself whilst singing. As a musician myself, I know well the frustration of trying to film and edit your own music videos and I am eternally grateful that Jeff Kew offered to film and edit mine to support my campaigning. I bought a jar of his sauce and gave Luke my contact - to get in touch.

When he sent me the song - a self-produced reggae track with political lyrics challenging inequality and oppression; rising energy prices, environmental pollution and governmental hipocrisy - I was so excited to be involved. Luke has experience with video editing so he only needed me to do the filming for this job, which was just as well, since I am already feeling the pressure under my current workload. My first available date was Saturday 16th December, so we pencilled it in whilst keeping an eye on the weather forecast. It must have been divine luck because we had not only a spotlessly dry weather, but the most beautiful, warm, winter sunlight that descended into a stunning sunset.

Luke had initially wanted to film at night, but I advised him against this since this would drastically reduce the quality of my iPhone's footage and I didn't have any professional lighting equipment. We started filming at 2:30pm, hoping to catch the sunset and we were not let down! I was also incredibly grateful to my friend Lora, who wanted to hang out and willingly offered to help carry the tripod, generally help with artistic direction and be my spotter whilst I was walking backwards (which I had to do a lot).

We started filming at the ampitheatre at South Street Park behind Sheffield Station, since this is the location where you can get the best view over Sheffield city centre. Luke has only been living in Sheffield for a year and a half - after I explained to him the history of Park Hill flats (Brutalist 1960s architecture designed for the local community but gained a bad reputation due to antisocial behaviour, crime and suicides - it was recently gentrified and is now unaffordable for most locals) we decided to film Luke walking from the station, along the tram lines, finishing up outside the Park Hill flats for the climax of the song. The pathway along the tramlines is covered in grafitti, literred with fag ends and other textures of urban decay so the viual narrative became a comment on gentrification which matched the key messaging of the lyrics around rising inequality and social injustices.

We filmed a variety of shots in different locations and got 6 full run throughs of the song for lip syncing in the edit. Three of these run-throughs were whilst walking (which meant I had to walk backwards with Lora spotting for me), the other 3 were whilst stationary; some sitting and some standing; some were full body whilst others were head shoulders. We also filmed some shots of him walking through different locations and some with him stationary when the trams were running behind him.

This was my first time filming for someone else's music video and it made me realise how much I enjoy being "behind the camera" compared to in front of it... I became an activist because I had something to say which few other young people at the time were saying - I had to stick my head above the parapet to speak my truth - but it was never a natural thing for me to do. That's not to say I don't enjoy performing at all and I have done so much of it that it comes quite naturally to me now, but it's a highly stressful thing to do and depending on the situation can still cause high levels of anxiety. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed letting someone else take centre-stage, so that I could focus on the imagery and narrative instead. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished video!

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