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Career Research: Music Video Director

Art and Fashion
Art and Fashion

  I was researching some television jobs and I job a whole list of them. The one that happened to stand out most for me was a music video director. So, I started researching music video director specifically. I found a lot of information on it and it was quite overwhelming. Then, I decided to break my research down into categories. Here are some of the categories I chose: What do they do, Responsibilities, Skills, Why I would fit this position, Things I would need to improve on to fit the position and Educational requirements.

In this blog post I’m going to talk about why I like this job and why I think I could do it well. I’ll also talk about the definition of the job, salaries made yearly and some things I could improve to make myself a little more prepared for it. I guess I’ll start with the definition so I’m not confusing anyone.

Definition: Music Video Directors are film directors who specialize in creating short films driven by a given music track. The music video director and the producer work together to create music videos for record companies, artists and other employers.

Now I’ll explain the things Music Video Directors do for their jobs. I’ll start with one of the main jobs. They need to be concerned for the look, feel and sound of the video. Typically, they focus on the business related issues like electricity, catering and logistics. They are always involved in pre-production, production and post-production. In order to be considered for a job, the Music Video Director and Producer have to give a written estimate of how much money will be needed to shoot and complete a video. Along with that written proposal, they will also have to write up a treatment to the recording executives, which is usually a video commissioner or marketing director. (I will explain in the next paragraph what a ‘Treatment write up is) Before the estimate and treatment are approved, the Music Video Director and Producer meet with the Music Video Editors to discuss the objectives of the video and the best way to present it in the artists’ image or vision. Once this is completed the Music Video Director and Producer submit the written estimate and the treatment to be approved. After it is approved, they start right away to create the video. They create a script and a storyboard as a guide to assist in creating the video. Music Video Directors hold auditions, select and rehears the talent, while overseeing set designs, costumes, what backgrounds and/or special effects should be used and where the scenes should be shot. The Producer may handle some of these jobs, so the Music Video Director can focus more on the artistic side of things. During all of this, the Producer and/or the Music Video Director work with the Director of Photography and Cinematographers, organizing and implementing the actual camera work. After the shooting has been finished, the Music Video Director assembles the shots according to what the Director and the Producer or their own artistic sensibility wants. The Music Video Director also synchronizes the film with voice and sound track produced by sound editor and music editor. When all is said and done, the video is submitted to the employer for a final review and approval.

One of the main responsibilities of the Music Video Directors is creating short films with music tracks. Last semester in Media Experience I created a short film (not for a music track) for an assignment and I was the director. I happened to really enjoy directing the short film.

To sum up the first paragraph here are there responsibilities. Music Video Directors are held responsible for working with the Producer to develop the final project and the look, feel and sound of a video. They take care of issues with the production team (arguments and things like that), create written proposals for money to support the video and create shooting scripts and storyboards. Other things are creating rehearsals with the talents, background and special effects, working with photographers and cinematographers, editing sounds, using their own artistic sensibilities and submitting work to be approved. Seeing that they have a lot of responsibilities gives me a feel for how important a Music Video Directors job is to the artist who created the track.

While I was researching I found a bunch of skills needed to do this job. I also wrote down a couple I feel will be needed. Here are some of the skills I found. Music Video Directors need to know how to work under pressure and meet deadlines. They also need to use really well communication and interpersonal skills in order to keep the production going smoothly, like keeping the team in good terms with each other and negotiating with each of them to keep them calm. Artistic visualization is a given, considering they are responsible for the look, feel and sound of a video. Having a good ear for sounds is another skill that will come in very handy, also attention to detail. In music videos its all about the little details that make the viewer love the video. You need to be able to work well in a team, be organized and able to write creatively. Writing a shooting script is very technical but also creative, different shots and cuts will catch the viewers’ eye and make the video visually attractive. The creative eye for design, fashion and background is very important. In music videos the talent likes to look good while also influencing others with their new and updated fashion sense or style. An eye for photography is needed, and knowing how to use software relevant to music video creation. (I used Final Cut Pro to edit and add a sound track to my short film. It’s a very easy to use program) Editing is definitely a given, the Music Video Director needs to place the scenes in order to make the video flow and go properly with the music track. You have to be prepared to work really long hours and be very dedicated to your work. Leadership skills and negotiation skills are extremely useful because they are in charge of a production team. Also, time management and working within a budget is a required skill. Managing your time well helps you to meet the video deadline without rushing around and creating stress for the whole production team (which would be a major disaster, even if you got the video done on time. your team will remember how much stress you added to their plate and they probably won’t recommend you for another video) Working within a budget is important because if you go over budget, the money comes from some very angry people or out of your own pocket. (NOT good)

Now that you know what Music Video Directors do, their responsibilities and the skills necessary, I will give you some reason why I would fit this job position well.

All my life I’ve been involved in some kind of art class. In public school I remember drawing one picture everyday for my grade one teacher, Mrs. Hamilton. I can never forget the joy I received in seeing her face everyday when she received a new picture. In middle school, I remember my classmate asking for my help on an assignment that required you to draw yourself in playing a sport. They all asked me to draw their faces (shhh, don’t tell!) and I felt so proud. I’m very artistic and I know I have a good eye for design, I know what looks good and what doesn’t. I’ve always listened to and enjoyed music, currently I’ve been working on developing a wider knowledge base of songs and artists. Listening to all this music gives me a good ear for sound. I’ve worked with a DJ at a bar in the town I live in and he helped me to study the audience and watch their reactions to the different beats per minute and pitches. It was amazing; I know this helped me develop a great ear for sound.

Over the years I’ve been through lots of counseling, and during my sessions I spent more time listening to how they talk to me and how they go about asking me, which made my communication skills superb. I’m love talking to people and helping them through their issues, and this is skill much needed in this career. I have also done many assignments in a team and played on sports teams. So I know I can work very well in a team.

Writing creatively is something I’ve always done as a coping mechanism in my life as well as for assignments; definitely something I really enjoy doing. While creating my short film last semester I realized I am very able to visualize things and write or say them to someone in a way where they can see exactly what I see. I’ve always had an interest in photography, I love seeing other peoples’ pictures and asking the favorite techniques, constructive critism is something I like to receive when people look at my pictures.

During my last short film, I used Final Cut Pro, so I know at least one of the many software involved in editing a video. I have an interest in knowing more software for editing. Doing a lot of job hunting online involves really knowing how to write professionally. Also, my teachers have helped me to learn to write an excellent professional email to a manger. I also work well under pressure, I’ve noticed that I’m able to calm myself and go get the help I need to reach my goal.

Those were some reasons I feel I would fit this position really well. Now I’ll go through some things I think I’ll need to improve on to get this job.

In school, I’ve always had a hard time meeting deadlines, because there is so much to do and see outside with friends. Socializing is a weakness for me. (While I’m working anyways) I have been working on improving that by changing the way I think. I always feel I ‘have’ to get things done instead of I ‘want’ to get things done. Also, although I know I have a great eye for detail, I would like to improve it. I feel in this job, attention to detail is extremely important. Being a creative, right-brainer I tend to be dis-organized. I’ve always been that way, but there IS organization in my messes, believe it or not! Another thing to improve on is my knowledge base of software used in this industry. I know I will get a chance to learn about more software and I’ll pick it up easily. So I’m not too worried about that one. Another thing that needs improvement is my ability to work long hours when I’m not exactly interested in a project. Everyone has had a job or project they didn’t really want to do but they complete it to the best of their knowledge anyways. I have to just do it! Will power and motivation will help me with that one. I’ve got to learn to be more authoritative in leadership positions, I’m a people pleaser, so I hate telling people they have to do something they don’t want to do. It’s something I’ve noticed I’ve been improving on.

A big one is time management, and that’s one of the most important aspects of being a Music Video Director. I’ve always had trouble managing my time, because there are so many distractions. I can’t miss out on fun, I just need to learn that if I work hard and get things done, the fun I have can be much more entertaining. I’m usually stuck worrying about assignments I need to finish and work on. Or things I say I’m going to do for myself and I don’t. I’m sure I’ll develop greater time management skills as life goes on… I just hope I don’t wait until things get really tough and I’m stuck in a rut. Those are some things I feel I need to improve on to be a successful Music Video Director.

Now I’ll tell you about the educational requirements needed to be in this career. I found out that there are no specific educational requirements, but acquiring a bachelor’s degree in Arts Management and Film and Video is recommended. Many film and video degree programs include courses in production studies. (Very useful!) Also many Colleges and Universities are beginning to develop specific degree programs and concentrations in the field, including Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in film and video production. That is all the education recommended by professionals in the industry.

In these paragraphs, I’ll talk about the salaries made by Music Video Directors; I’ll start with Non-Union videos. Non-Union music videos productions are created by independent and/or unknown directors. Non-Union music videos provide substantial salary opportunities for directors. Record labels or artists generally have control over the amount of compensation the director receives. One of the main reasons an artist or record label company engages in a Non-Union shoot is to save large amounts of money that would be used for production costs. Well known Non-Union directors have a stronger negotiation position with artists and record labels. Most unrecognized directors accept the budget requirements of the record label to ensure consistent work.

Directors presented by aUnionhave a minimum salary requirement. As of 2010, minimum salary rate for a Union director is approximately $1.229 pre day. This also applies to commercial length work produced by networks and music video fall within this category when produced by a major label. Many Union directors work for well above this rate, and in most cases, the budget for the entire video is less than $500 for independent artists. The director may choose to produce this video, or secure all the equipment and organize the shoot, in effort to write himself into the budget more than once so that his salary rises to a comparable day rate.

Independent music video directors-for-hire commonly earn $0-$500 per video shoot. Production firm salaries (based on average day rates) range from $50.000-$100.00 each year. The actual amount is based on the experience and talent of the director. These are the different salaries made by each type of director.

This is all the research I have done for this write-up. I hope this has been as informational to you as it has been to me!