HOW TO: Create a Killer Music Video

Joe Childress & Jonathan Combs have been creating visual projects together since 2008. They have collaborated on commercials, animated shorts, viral videos and several other forms of visual stimulation. They both currently reside in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and find anytime they can to create.

Step 1. Find a previous American Idol contestant who made the top 24 and wants a music video.

After the music video Joe Childress & Jonathan Combs (that’s us!)  directed for Tim Halperin’s “She Runs” climbed to 100,00 views in July 2010, we were hungry to make another video. Tim spent the rest of the year touring, promoting his EP “Make or Break” and eventually landing on “American Idol” by flirting with Jennifer Lopez. He ended up making it into the Top 24 and performed his soon-to-be single “The Last Song” on national television.

After his experience on “American Idol” Tim came back to Texas ready to turn “The Last Song” into a hit music video & continue to develop his fan base. He asked us to come up with a crazy cool concept for a killer music video.

Step 2. Come up with a crazy cool concept

As with any creative endeavor, beers are an essential part of the process. We (Joe & Jonathan) met up to listen to the song, drink a few drinks and brainstorm on ideas. After deciding on the overall theme of Tim crawling through his own head searching for inspiration to write a final song for a lost love, we began working on ways to represent this visually. With a low-budget, DIY video under our belts we wanted to create a larger, more cinematic video this time around. But one thing was instantly obvious: we were going to need funding.

Step 3. Raise money through Kickstarter

Raising money for music videos (and really any artistic project) used to be quite a pain. With “She Runs” we had absolutely no budget and had to build the idea and concept around that fact. Knowing that had created a way for fans, friends and complete strangers to support your vision, we let our imaginations run wild. With kickstarter, though, there is one catch: you have to reach your goal within 30 days or your project doesn’t get funded, and supporters get their money back.

We pitched the idea to Tim (who’s head exploded after hearing it) and we knew the best way to get people on board for helping us was to give them stuff. So we created a promo video specifically for the kickstarter campaign and provided incentives for people to give.

Step 4. Put together a team of fiendish creative types

Through the 100% volunteer crew from the “She Runs” shoot we knew we had plenty of people we could count on. It was important for us, after seeing everyone’s dedication on that shoot, that we find ways to compensate them for their hard work and creativity. Although we couldn’t pay them what they were worth we knew with funding we would have the means to at least pay them something. The producers, directors and several others involved went without a paycheck in order to put as much money into the video as possible. The next four weeks were spent solidifying the script, storyboarding, securing locations, collecting props, building sets, finding food donors for the shoot days, reserving equipment, finding actors, all the while worrying if raising $8,000 was an attainable goal.

Step 5. Spend 4 grueling days shooting

With everything in place and the money raised it was time to take our vision from paper to screen. The next four days involved Tim flipping out when he realized what he thought was a water reservoir was actually a fish-infested, slimy cow trough, shooting in public places without permits as cops drove by, gale force winds blowing over railroad ties, destroying equipment and demolishing lights, and an actress’ hair being accidentally set on fire. After the dust settled we knew (hoped) that our creation was in the can. Now it was time to edit.

Step 6. Lock yourself in a room with the footage

After months of pouring over storyboards, putting together the rough cut came easily and allowed us to spend more time tightening the edit and adding in visual effects.

The video was set to premiere on “Kidd Kraddick in the Morning” in a few weeks. In order to meet this hard dead line the final editing and visual effects came from two back-to-back sleepless nights and finished mere minutes before the video was to premier.

Step 7. Have a world premier live streaming event on a syndicated radio morning show

“Kidd Kraddick in the Morning” is a syndicated radio talk show that reaches over 2 million listeners. Tim had been performing weekly on the show doing a segment called “Idol Got it Wrong”. With the success of the segment Kidd offered to premier Tim’s new video. “The Last Song” music video went live over Kidd Kraddick’s Ustream channel to an audience of over 2,000 fans.

Step 8. Plan your next video

An artist’s thirst for creativity is never satisfied. You can continue to nit pick your past projects but new content is created by moving forward. Did your last video suck? Who cares, make a better one. Did your last video rock? Who cares, make a better one.

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HOW TO: Create a Killer Music Video

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