Singer, songwriter and musician Rachael Yamagata added director and editor to her list of artistic skills with the recent completion of her new music video, Nobody. The track is from her upcoming album “Tightrope Walker,” set for release on September 23rd, and reflects her beliefs in perseverance, relentlessness and owning your own power.
According to Yamagata, her role as director and editor came about through necessity, and partially because of budget restrictions.
“I believe diversity breeds knowledge,” she says. “I am not a director. I am not an editor. I’ve never even written a video treatment. But part of my journey as an independent artist is taking as much creative input and being the source of a lot of things from get go, and needing to come up with a plan of how to pull off a video with a modern-day, limited, independent-artist’s budget.”
Yamagata, who’s based in Woodstock, NY, wrote down her thoughts and then talked with two friends in Philadelphia — Kate Carbone and Michele Romond. Carbone operates Hoopskirt Productions and served as co-director on the project.
“Kate has contacts for directors of photography, rental equipment, and lighting,” Yamagata explains. “And my friend Michele Romond was one of the dancers, and one of the choreographers.” The friends helped Yamagata get on her game in terms of initial planning.
“I was so naive to that world,” says Yamagata of the video production process. “It didn’t occur to me that a director was somebody different than the person shooting the video and holding the camera. When it got closer and closer, I nominated myself as the director because we didn’t have the budget or time. And the concept I had was so heavy that I made the decision [that I would be] the right person to direct it.”
Yamagata used Apple’s iMovie to put together short dance vignettes that would be used as a shot list.
“I cut up movie scenes I liked and dance rehearsals, and I pre-sequenced it before we even shot anything,” she explains. “And that actually helped me with editing, because I had a bit of a map with a structure. That was my equivalent of a shot list.”
One day was spent shooting in a loft apartment in Philly. Another was spent at Chez Dance Studios in New Jersey. The video was shot on July 5th and 6th, when the rehearsal space and dancers were available.
Michael James Murray did much of the shooting, using Sony FS7s and an A7SII. “He’s used to shooting bands in a live environment,” Yamagata explains. “He has intuitive manner with how he moves with the music. He and dancers, at certain points, were very close, and you expected a crash, but it never happened.”
Adam Bogus also served as DP and chief lighting tech.
Yamagata did much of the editing in Final Cut Pro. “That came about because the original editor we had in mind had a schedule conflict at the last minute,” she recalls. “I sat on my porch for 12 hours a day for six days straight, learning how to edit, matching clips and experimenting. I have such a new appreciation for this world. For me, as an artist, I had no idea how time consuming the editing part of it is, and how important it is to shaping the story and the message you want to convey with the song. It’s fascinating to me and I love it.”
Out of Town Films editor Rocco Avallone used Adobe Premiere Pro CC to complete the final edit, and Murray gave the video its color balance.
“I wish we had more time to spend on that,” says Yamagata of the online. “He did it in a day. I wanted to blast out the windows of the studio as much as possible to make it an ‘angelic’ situation. We spent a lot of time going back and forth on my lighting…At the end of the day, the untouched footage and natural lighting in the setting it was shot worked best for my close-ups.”