Some people think that the Music Video world has died out, or it’s only for the big timers with the record deals.
However, the Music Video Scene, especially in Detroit, is booming. We’ve got major directors winning awards, and we’ve got up and coming directors that are planting their feet in creativity that no label would initially agree to concept wise.
Today’s highlight comes from Marguerite Wasinski of Stargazer Digital Media, the director of Stories Untold’s newest video “Mrs. Blues.”
ACRONYM: I have been waiting on this video for a minute because I got to see a sneak peek at it, and I’ve loved the concept since day 1. Watching the video and how it seemingly plays backward, how hard was that to film, coordinating the band to run backward, and the rest of the players in the video itself?
Marguerite Wasinski: I’m so glad you liked it! It was definitely a process. Every time we went over things in real-time, we had to say, “Okay, but how will this look backwards?” and we would make adjustments based off that. Some of it came together naturally, but some hurdles came up on the day of shooting: like making a lower number of people work for what we wanted to accomplish. There were groups of people I coordinated to show up for one part of the video, and then SPRINT around the camera to get in position in a later part. Someone (I wish I remembered who) came up with the brilliant idea of everyone freezing after they hit the band members with paint– otherwise you’d see people standing around awkwardly in the background. When the band was running backwards into the water, we had to remember to shout out directions so they wouldn’t run into trees (which happened during a practice take, haha). But nothing was more nail-biting than burying them at the beginning of each take. Everyone had to be in position first, and move fast, because they would begin to freeze in the ground. Once the dirt was over their faces, filming had to start immediately. So it really all came down to timing, too. We shot multiple takes without paint, and then two takes with paint. I can’t tell you how incredibly cooperative everyone was– everyone was in high spirits, went with the flow, and delivered every single part so well. We’re all so thankful for everyone who showed up that day.
A: When you begin to work on a concept with a band, what are the things you target/map out with them prior to hitting record?
MW: In this case, Stories came to me with the concept of everything being in slow motion, reversed, one long take, with paint and extras involved. Then it was my job from there to figure out how to coordinate that vision into a reality on camera. Every band and song is different though, so I have experience developing bands’ ideas into fully fleshed-out concepts, too. Depending on what the video demands, I always make sure to lock down locations and actors (if needed) first. I then think about what camera and other equipment I’ll need (I used a steadicam, for instance, for the Stories video), crew, and props, if any. I’m big on communication, so I make sure every single person on set is on the same page before I hit record. I often like staging run-throughs without recording because it helps save time and money.
A: Do you color grade and edit all your own work, or do you work with a team? Is there a difference when working with a team how the visuals come out, or do you prefer to have your hands on all of it at once?
MW: It always depends on the project. For my Stargazer team, if you got the gig, you get first dibs on what role(s) you want to play on the project, and the rest of us fill in whatever else may be needed. That method has been working very well for us so far. For music videos, I always choose to color grade and edit all of my own work, and then I’ll send out drafts to my team for their feedback. As far as commercials, weddings, and things like that, sometimes I’ll edit the clips together and send them over to my partner Andrew to color grade, or vice versa. Sometimes I’ll only be on set for shooting, and never edit it. Sometimes the opposite happens. I always feel personally way more accomplished and proud when my hands were the ones on the camera and also on the computer editing, but to be honest, video is such a collaborative medium that nothing I do would ever be as good without the input of my team and the clients themselves.
A: For all the gearheads out there, what do you film with? Do you have a specific dream camera you’d like to get?
MW: We’re big Sony fans! Stargazer uses a Sony a7III, a7sII, and an a6500. We also have a Zhiyun Crane v2, a DJI Mavic Pro drone, beautiful LEDs, and several wireless Sennheiser lav mics. The DREAM would be owning an Arri, definitely. Like an Arri Alexa one day, or whatever may be out when my company is finally making that kind of money!
A: And finally, the most hard-hitting question: What do you snack on when you edit?
MW: My favorite kind of questions! I’m more of a sugar-fanatic than a salty snacker, so when there are suddenly boxes of Meijer cookies, empty bowls of ice cream left on my desk, and cans of energy drinks in the fridge, you know I’m working on a big project.
Thanks to Marguerite Wasinski for letting us get into the mind of the creator! You can watch the video for “Mrs. Blues” from Stories Untold here: