Rho Stone’s Audiovisual Adventures: DIY Music Video Advice for the Unsigned

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The Toilet Ov Hell cares about new bands. They’re the future of metal, after all. Who needs fancy budgets when you can have FUN?

Currently my boss and many of my peers are reading a book whose title roughly translates to “I’ve got no cash for making my film”. Also lately people have been asking me “what’s the minimal equipment needed for making a movie?” Everyone seems to think there’s a huge threshold for making something artistically worthwhile in the music, film, or/or macaroni murder ladies. Now, as someone who has religiously studied Cinemassacre since 2007 (btw I’m going total fanboy for the AVGN movie for those who know what that is) I can tell you that’s a load of crap. If you are creative and organized enough, you can write a kickass song on a shit guitar or make a film with just your phone camera and your smarts. You’re not contractually obliged to a studio or a label, it’s your own dime and you can do whatever the fuck you please. Here is some advice in case you’re wondering where to start:

Make sure you’re doing it because you want to and not because you “have” to. Do you think the world needs more of this? There’s some unwritten rule that says bands are supposed to make videos. Why? You need to make sure people know that song is your single? There’s no MTV to show videos anymore, they’re too busy showing fake tans and teenage pregnancies. Streaming killed the video star. In most cases nobody’s dying to see a music video. It’s going to end up sitting on YouTube, where people are going to click it to listen to the song while they do something else on another tab. So if you don’t want to make a video with the same vehemence you want to make songs, just don’t do them. If nobody really wants to do it it’s most probably going to suck anyways.

Work with what you have, not what you want. I believe the best art comes from adversity. The original Star Wars Trilogy movies are amazing because they were created from setbacks (if not they would have been another cookie-cutter Flash Gordon ripoff). They’re far better than the sequels because they didn’t have everything taken for granted, they had to take what they had and make it memorable. In my last post I called R2-D2 “cocky”.  R2-D2 is a midget inside a can, but that has more charm than any of the cardboard personality characters in Attack of the Clones. Take your available resources and make something out of it. Take a look at Jari Mäenpää in his quest for finding a machine that plays his music for him or whatever else he’s asking his label more money for. Someone should tell him that his idea of perfection is tied to the zeitgeist and as soon as something new comes along his perfectionist ideals will become obsolete. You don’t need big ass sets and a whole production team. You could just take a look in your garage, find a rake and a spare wheel and use your imagination to come up with something. DSLR cameras are able to record amazing video and almost everyone knows a wannabe photographer who has one. If not, most phones today have a camera that films in 1080p. If all else fails, use crayons and magazine cutouts to make an animated viking battle in outer space. Be fucking creative.

Set the bar really high. I’m not using Star Wars as a random example. The original Star Wars trilogy will be long-remembered works of art. If you’re planning to make a video for you and your cat to look at on rainy days go ahead and make your best Solitary Son impression, but if you want to make a successful video “good enough for 5 guys and no budget” is not an acceptable phrase. If you don’t start by believing you’re making the next best music video of all time then you’ll never make it. Want some motivation? Remember you can make a better video than the ones critically acclaimed bands with huge resources have made. Let’s clog this toilet:

Megadeth – Poopercollider. Not content with making a shit dad rock album, they made a shit video. FLUSH.

Slayer – World Painted Blood. I guess Brendon Small was busy saying the word “dildo” into a microphone in different voices that week. FLUSH.

Soundgarden – Been Away Too Long. Beautiful photography, colors, locations and post-production. Ruined by a video that’s boring as fuck. FLUSH.

Metallica – The Day That Never Comes. This image summarizes how much you’ll enjoy watching this one.

Screen shot 2014-08-29 at 1.34.39 AM

FLUSH

Black Label Society – In This River. Am I supposed to be moved by this? I’m sure that’s what Zakk Wylde looked like when he was 8. FLUSH.

Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage. Dear Gojira, stop being so french (Dear reader, you probably didn’t have to study movies for years. I had to. You won’t believe how often I had to sit through shit like this and had to take it seriously). FLUSH.

Dio – Rainbow in the Dark. So far in AV Adventures I’ve gone out of my way not to criticize old videos because I have a huge amount of respect for people who had to make videos with tape and a guillotine, but this is just awful. FLUSH.

Danzig – Ju Ju Bone (NSFW). Yes Glenn, women have tits. Yes, Army of Darkness was a great movie. How’s that pile of bricks doing? FLUSH.

Saxon – Live to Rock. Because Bill and Ted where THIS tedious. Also, this was made in 2008, Autodesk Maya was already out and this is the best 3D you can get? FLUSH.

Black Sabbath – God Is Dead. Peter Joseph made this. Trust me, if you’re able to point a camera at something and hit record you’re already a better filmmaker than he is. FLUSH WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE.

Ok, look. You don’t need to have the story of the decade. I could have stayed in my house watching Pocahontas (illegaly, I don’t own Pocahontas, mind you) instead of going to the movies to see Avatar to see the same story. But the presentation was the purpose. Also don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to produce Avatar in your driveway, just find a way to take your art to it’s greatest potential.

Be organized. Here’s a rule of thumb: If an idea has not been written down, it does not exist. I’m not going to give you the professional version of organization because I don’t want to scare you, but follow this and you should do fine. Before you even turn the camera on, you must make a list of everything you have: all the people involved, their roles, schedules and availability, all the props, objects, and locations that are going to be used. Then, when writing the story, everything must be put textually. Every character must be written by name, description and the way he acts. No “a man walks down the stairs”, you write “MAN 1 [about 25 years old, unkept look and overweight, clumsy] walks down the stairs”. Every object, location and situation must be expressed in this manner; there’s no place for figures of speech or idioms here, everything must be unambiguously understood. Then you separate everything by locations. If two parts of the story occur in the same place, they go together. Chronology doesn’t matter here; it’s better to film everything in one location and move than to be going back and forth. You must plan accordingly. If, for example, a character has half his head shaved in the beginning but not in the end, you film the end first, and then shave his head. Make a storyboard. Draw every camera movement, every pan, every close-up. That way you have everything planned out. Once you start filming, someone has to keep track of everything. He or she must write down which takes are good, which are bad, what is missing, etc. This will be useful for when it’s time to edit, so the editor already knows his material. I’m not going to cover editing or AV language here, or I’d be writing a whole book. I recommend you watch a shit ton of movies and see what looks good and what doesn’t. That’s how I started. In regards to software, I use Final Cut for editing and After Effects for post. For amateur Mac users I guess iMovie does it’s job fine (more than once, after presenting a budget, clients have told me “But I can just do it in iMovie”. Btw fuck those people). In regards to Windows, I remember Movie Maker on the XP was somewhat functional. I really haven’t used a PC since then.

Everyone’s an actor. There’s no such thing as a bad actor, only bad scripts and directors. Everyone that’s willing to act is able to do it. Now, maybe you want to do a serious thing and it’s coming out unintentionally hilarious, remember that you must work with what you have, not what you want, and in that case you probably don’t have what it takes to make something serious, so you should take another approach. It’s like trying to play sweep picking solos when you’re still not good at it, you still require practice (After countless hours of practice and this video Rho Stone is able to sweep pick).

This all might sound complex, but it’s really fun. At least I find it fun. Hey, beats raising cattle I guess. No seriously, it’s really fun. Now, amateur up-and-coming bands, go make your videos and show those production companies you don’t need them (Rho Stone doesn’t endorse the boycotting of production companies, or he’d be out of a job).

(Shameless Editor’s note: Are you in an unsigned band? SEND US YOUR SHIT. If we like it, we’ll feature it!)

  • omg, my first first!
    hi everybody!

    • Steve Smithwick

      I made sure to give you a guest upvote AND a log-in upvote for your troubles, ‘nulty.

      • Steve, you are a gentleman and a flusher.

      • W.

        Steve, you finally made it here!

        • you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone…

        • Steve Smithwick

          Work is temporarily slowing down for the next week or two. I’ve gotta put some time in ’round here while I have it!

    • NefariousDude

      Congrats Jim, stay rocket.

  • Steve Smithwick

    This is a fun article, and if I ever become part of a band (hint: I won’t) I will totally use these tips to maximize my budget value.

    • Steve Smithwick

      Also, that picture of Kerry King’s face on a small person’s body is haunting and terrible and I won’t be sleeping well henceforth, so thanks Rho!

      • Howard Dean

        Agreed. That’s an amazing photoshop. 9/10 Byahs!, Rho Stone!

    • i agree, Rho’s contributions are priceless. it’s great to see the visual side of audio.

      • Max

        And he writes well, too.

        Anybody who can make me laugh, and hold my interest every time in a topic I barely ever think about, is a good writer.

        • W.

          Max, I really appreciate when you pop up in a thread because you almost always have something interesting or thoughtful to say.

          • Max

            Aw, cheers, man!

            I must say it’s easy to be thoughtful when there’s great, thought-provoking posts written by the likes of Rho Stone and yourself.

  • Scrimm

    WHAT THE HELL DID YOU PEOPLE DO TO ME, I’M STILL LISTENING TO POWER METAL!!
    Good article though. A lot of the best visual media out there has been made with an extremely small budget.

    • Let the power flow through you. Become one with the dragon! Or kill the dragon. Depending on the song.

      • Scrimm

        I DON’T KNOW WHO I AM ANYMORE!

    • Janitor Jim Dvggan

      It makes me wonder as well. This website is the reason I am binging the Blue Oyster Cult discography.

    • Randall Thor

      How about something relevant to this post and power metal? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUiA4blvQPQ

      • Tyree

        YES!

      • Scrimm

        So good.

      • Guppusmaximus

        Fucking brilliant… I love Key & Peele. Here is some Kroll Show for your efforts:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUaJ3_ydxE4

        • Tyree

          L-A! DEL-AY!

        • that’s entirely too much tuna

          • Tyree

            Hahaha! No one ever gets that reference. I use it all of the time.

          • Guppusmaximus

            Oh…Hell-lo.

      • Simon Phoenix

        Key and Peele are life.

    • Tyree

      Lol, I have not been converted over to the power… yet.

      • Randall Thor

        Light will find a way!

      • Scrimm

        Neither have I, Just gave the couple albums I had a spin yesterday, and now I’m Kinda stuck on them. Still many cringe worthy moments.

        • Tyree

          That’s what I’m afraid of.

    • W.

      Hail warrior!

      • Scrimm

        It only happened because I had to replace my PC and I am putting all my music on the new one. At least now I can get back to the article I’ve been trying to write for this place forever.

        • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

          what kind of pc did you get ?

          • Scrimm

            Just another laptop. HP amd-6,
            6gb ram, 500g hard drive

  • Guacamole Jim

    Great article! I’ve been thinking for a while about trying to put together a video for my band (which would still be a ways off) but I’m going to keep this article in mind. You make some awesome points, sir.

  • Howard Dean

    Don’t knock raising cattle. There are thousands of red-blooded model-Americans busting their hump so you can eat a porterhouse.

    Actually, go ahead and knock it. Because that’s some ball-busting hard work, and making movies or music is very likely a helluva lot more fun.

    • W.

      I have a lot of respect for farmers because that is back-breaking work. I never want to have to raise then subsequently kill an animal.

      • Mr Poturdlehead

        Yeah, farming is a double-edged sword. You gain a new appreciation for life, then have to kill it to survive yourself. I prefer milking the goats & collecting eggs to the decapitations for sure.

    • CÖÄL RÖLL FRÖM THE TÖILET BÖWL

      plus, a Diesel crew cab dually with tow package is MANDATORY.

    • JWG

      I suppose locking up the Farmer vote would negate the possibility of getting this little guy into your Administration, huh.

      https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=901650959863788

      • Howard Dean

        This little guy can be my Secretary of Excessive Awesomeness.

      • That was a solid BYAAAH!!

  • Howard Dean

    I love that Family Guy creepy clown clip. I can only imagine some of the overly stylized “all form, no function” and content-less shite one must endure when studying film. I imagine France shits out about three dozen independent films like that an hour.

    Also: Favorite Family Guy trope ever:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjQMhsOQOB8

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCMrWFhu2GU

  • Rho touched on something here that I think should be further explored. It’s easy to create something simple and shitty and boring. Instead, if you put in real work and real effort but still fuck it all up you can have an end product that is transcendentally shitty. How do you think The Room happened? I want to see more complete disasters.

    • Christian Molenaar
      • This is terrible and I don’t hate it.

        • Christian Molenaar

          “After many years of silence the metal cult shall once again triumph in ultimate brilliancy!”

          Sounds like something Randall Thor would say while eating an egg roll.

    • Randall Thor

      Have you heard of Kaledon? http://youtu.be/22DcXJ4k6kU

      • YES. I haven’t seen this since college.

      • CÖÄL RÖLL FRÖM THE TÖILET BÖWL

        yo bro that dude’s packin some Jon Hamm level heat bro!

    • Randall Thor

      This video is a disaster for one reason in my mind:

      1) This song is about Bran from A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones for you TV plebs). Not the Aztecs. What?

      http://youtu.be/eIZNb96EQJ8

      • Hansi is in this video. Therefore, it is automatically a great video regardless of fucking anything.

      • W.

        I never knew that was about Bran #themoreyouknow

    • crazytaco_12

      Dude, you should watch Riki Oh; all the splatter of an old school horror movie mixed with shoddy martial arts. So over-the-top it’s hilarious. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lbzbyg3olQI

  • W.

    Two of my favorite low-budget movies are Ink and Attack the Block.

    Also, Hayden Christensen can’t act.

    • Scrimm

      Attack the block was great. good or bad the guy from that movie will do better in the new Star Wars than Hayden Christensen did in all three f the prequels.
      My two favorite low budgeters are Phantasm and Halloween.

      • W.

        Ewan McGregor did his best to save the terrible writing of those movies!

        • Christian Molenaar

          But alas, he couldn’t do anything about the terrible everything else about those movies.

        • Scrimm

          Agreed. Its wasn’t enough.

      • Janitor Jim Dvggan

        My favorite low budget movie is the movie I made about a haunted Walkman that kills people. In reality it didn’t have a budget as I used my phone camera and the Walkman I own to make it. Besides that fact I felt it accomplished my goal to make the worst movie ever. I’m in the process of making a feature length sequel that I hope will be decent. The movies are comprised of “found footage” and I am the only actor involved yet in the new one I play a different character than the first one.

        • Xan

          I’ll watch it.

      • Xan

        All those old “classic” horror movies were great. It was about the scares then instead of the gore.

        • Scrimm

          Hell yeah. I appreciate effects and all but in most cases I don’t need the gore. The original Halloween has almost no blood at all, and it’s perfect.

    • PRIMER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! please everyone have seen this low-budget (~$8000) sci-fi flick!

      • W.

        That’s on my list!

        • brace yourself W, it’s not an easy one; but it is rewarding. google image “primer movie diagram” (don’t actually go into any detail though, for fear of spoilers). it’s the most air-tight — in terms of logic — time travel film yet!

      • crazytaco_12

        I watched it when I was really tired. Let’s just say, that was a horrible idea. I have to re-watch that one, very cool idea, but so much technical shit I kept nodding off

    • Simon Phoenix

      Ink is an incredible movie.

      • W.

        I’m so glad someone else knows it.

  • Randall Thor

    This is the greatest metal music video of all time. No budget? No problem, just go grab your country’s women’s curling team!

    http://youtu.be/dL9mlqbG5CU

  • hey Rho, i want to have a gentleman’s disagreement on that last point: “There’s no such thing as a bad actor, only bad scripts and directors.” (and yes i’ve done some acting in my life, but no this isn’t about resentment from your statement.) there are people who CAN act, and i’m not talking Andre Braugher caliber, just people who are comfortable in front of a camera and can recite lines without coming off like Hayden Christensen. you’ve got to find people like this. you’ve got 20 people working on a music video, each one doesn’t HAVE to be an actor! call up your friends’ friends. put an ad on craigslist. people will act for beer and/or exposure.

    anyways, you can clean your pallet from that awful metallica video with one of theirs that’s actually pretty fuckin’ rocket: ALL NIGHTMARE LONG!!!

    • W.

      There’s this pretty funny Youtube channel where some insane conspiracy theorist basically hires desperate actresses in LA to read his insane ramblings. I don’t remember the name of the channel, but one of the videos was “Don’t vote if you’re dumb.”

    • Pagliacci is Kvlt

      Totally agree. Two words: Steven Seagal. *drops microphone*

      • Janitor Jim Dvggan

        I shudder when I watch his movies. Another one of those crappy action actors: Dolph Lundgren. Has he ever made a good movie that wasn’t an Expendables movie?

      • Scrimm

        Two more: Nic Cage.

    • Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate good actors. Those are the guys that just by reading the script are able to bring a character to life, and they understand you when you say something. By the time they’re standing in front of the camera, they know their character’s life story as if it is their own, and they become the character. People got really butthurt that one time Christian Bale had a tantrum and they recorded it, but it wasn’t him at all, it was the character he was portraying. That’s how deep actors get into their roles.

      That being said, you can make anyone give a good performance if you encourage them in the right way

  • CÖÄL RÖLL FRÖM THE TÖILET BÖWL

    Great article, bro!

  • Randall Thor

    This band is unsigned, and they pulled this off: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yetRJ9aAyvc

  • JWG

    I tend deliberately to follow (and back) micro-budgeted indie horror projects with predictable niche audiences, so I know well that artistically worthwhile things can be made on shoestring budgets.

    Just considering the talent that goes into concept art, production/set design, costume design, and practical effects gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. And it really doesn’t have to be big-budgeted to tell an interesting story at all. I mean, look at this:

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1300416358/wolf-short-horror-film

    Or

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/twoplease/two-please-with-michael-berryman

    (note: the latter should not be construed as a solicitation for pledges. It just happens to still be open, and I happen to think their first 6-minute short with Berryman was a truly strange little masterpiece)

  • Simon Phoenix

    Six String Samurai and Hard Revenge Milly: Bloody Battle are two exampes of how you can make awesome action films with no budget and a fuckton of limitations. So this article speaks the truth.

  • old_man_doom

    I made an old west horror short earlier in the year with a 3 man/woman crew, a canon 7d, and a big-ass creek behind my university. We were doing it for a media tech. class and had 6 weeks to film. And you’re goddamn right that everyone’s an actor! There is none of that, “I don’t do well on screen” bullshit. Man up, son! I ended up being to main fucking character, and I have never acted in my life. The whole 10min film cost us under $100 and a couple of us (myself included) ended up with some very severe poison oak reactions. But the short was legit—the final product was not totally desirable (“work with what you have”) but I am extremely proud of it. I even got some of the dudes from Indian Blanket and The Lion’s Daughter to provide music from their split album for our credits. It was one of best/most fun creative endeavors I’ve ever taken on.

    • W.

      I was very close to talking about that Indian Blanket/Lion’s Daughter collab this week. Perhaps I still should…

      • old_man_doom

        Yeah, those dudes are total mensches. “A Black Sea” was one of the best records of last year.

  • Further Down the Metal Hole

    I take offence at that Bill and Ted jab. How dare you, sir! I still love it for its silliness.