Having directed and filmed videos in the past, I know that the communication between myself and the performers and camera ops is very important. I have a vision in my head and I want to get as close to that vision as possible. Usually with the right communication everything turns out fine - but not being able be in the same room as the performer AND not being able to control the camera shot has proven difficult for the music video I had planned for the track My, my.
The initial idea was to have Krystal Lowe (professional dancer & choreographer) dance her way around a storage warehouse whilst the lights flicker. However, we are unable to visit the warehouse and it would be unsafe and unfair to expect Krystal (and crew) to create the video as it isn't 'essential'.
After a re think on my end, I decided to approach Krystal about filming herself around the house. The purpose of the video then being around the mundane activities we do day to day which are emphasised now during the lockdown - how can we make the mundane a bit more FUNdane. Creating hilarious puns is a good example of this.
Before the phone call I prepared some questions - Krystal and I are friends already, so there was no need to be overly formal with my approach. I wanted to know A) would she be ok with her house being used, B) What phone camera she had and C) is this possible.
Luckily she was up for it and her phone camera is of high quality. Then we discussed shots, But I found it hard to describe over the phone. I explained how I like symmetry a la Wes Anderson, she then went away and took some photos of possible angles. I told her which ones worked well and which ones wouldn't be suitable.
She then sent some test footage of her dancing in the space, asking if the shots were good and the dancing was suitable. At this point I suggested that she used more 'traditional ballet' moves - which made sense to her! I have zero knowledge of dance in all senses - I knew I wanted it to be ballet around the house, and Krystal definitely delivered this.
The process was a challenge and a lot harder than if lockdown want happening, but the experience of adapting my skills and communications was worth while to develop a good video.
I am going to start planning how I want my show to look and what it will consist of. I have made some decisions based on my past live stream experiences. Firstly I will not be telling many stories - I will save those for a later time, mainly because my audience at the moment still isn't expecting it of me and I'd rather play more songs to get the music out there as I feel that is a more universal medium and more easily absorbed by viewers. I will still tell at least one story and I will most probably blabber on about some things too. Secondly, I've decided to stream on Facebook and YouTube rather than a zoom call. This is because having experienced zoom gigs before with lots of participants, I find it distracting as a viewer and as an admin, I'd have to mute people and it would feel too formal.
So I started with a napkin pitch that looked like this -
I then took this to my fiancee and we both applied the Disney Method of design thinking, here is what we came up with.
ARABY LIVE - #1 - the outsider.
- This sounds like a nice bit of escapism for an evening. If it looks good (like a tv show) then it would even feel like things are back to 'normal'.
- I hope it's funny, I good do with some light comedy in light of everything that is happening.
- Where will this be available?
- I hope I don't have to pay to gain entry, as it will be on the a digital screen, I don't feel like I'd want to pay in the same way I feel like I don't really pay for the TV shows.
- Will there be a way of interacting with Araby? Could I ask him questions about the music he is playing?
- I hope there is a clear and simple way for me to not only watch the show, but also to purchase the songs I am listening to.
- What will the show actually consist of? Is it just Araby singing some songs? Who TF is Araby anyways?
ARABY LIVE - #2 - the dreamer.
- "Wow, that was like watching top of the pops or Jools Holland or Singer songwriters at the BBC!"
- The multi camera angles and changing lights made it look so professional - plus it sounded so good!
- That guest performance by Damien Rice was amazing, he is clearly very VERY good friends with Araby.
- It took me back to feeling normal again. It was emotional and funny, I loved every song.
- It was great that it was streamed on UK television, now lots of people will know who araby is.
ARABY LIVE - #3 - The Realist.
- Local artist as a guest will be good. No one is expecting you to have a superstar guest.
- HD is certainly possible given the right equipment - is it available?
- Streaming live online is more than adequate - choosing the right platform(s) is crucial for traffic.
ARABY LIVE - #4 - The Critic.
- Who will watch? Nobody knows who Araby is or what they do.
- People definitely wouldn't pay.
- I've seen a million live streams - what makes this different from the others?
- I don't have access to YouTube or Facebook... now what?
The restrictions of the lockdown have moved most performers into using live stream as a way to continue interacting with fans and performing. There are restrictions as a particularly unknown entity with this as if I stream on facebook, only my friends will see it, so I need to find new audiences online.
From a dabble of research I have found several groups that are helping promote music, here is some info.
SOFA SHARE WALES (SSW).
Run by Fez & Justin in Newport, South Wales.
This is the first live stream platform that made itself known to me in the lockdown. I am friends with Fez and he approached me asking if I'd like to perform. SSW have three streams a day - 3pm, 6pm & 9pm and initially there was no preference for performance type in the time slots, but it has since been organised and there are certain recurring slots for specific stream. For example, Sundays at 3pm are now food/cooking based and Tuesday at 6 is always yoga.
I will talk about the performance experience for SSW in another blog post HERE.
BIG BEAR SOCIAL CLUB / COVAID LIVE
Big Bear Social Club hadn't long started as a platform for music videos a live music videos to be released on facebook as well as promoting gigs for artists, but the lockdown hit so they adapted by co-curating daily streams. I'm not 100% sure who is running the show and the scheduling as there isn't that much information online other than the posters for specific days. Plus some of the video streams seem to be linked to Forte Project - of which I think is a similar project to BBSC. I was on the list for a live set but had to re-arrange, so I'm hoping to be back on the books for them soon.
This is the first platform that hasn't used a 'live stream' approach, but rather a 'Zoom Meeting' set up. This makes it much more personal, but more restricting for the audience. The performances have evolved so that it is now also broadcast on Twitch, which is great. As a performer I much prefer the zoom feeling which I will talk about HERE.
The Utilipub audience is a small community friends and I know that they are trying to expand from that. I'm happy to ride the wave with them.
Live studio coming soon - very much in the works but very very exciting - A different league in terms of equipment and set up. One to watch.
TactileBOSCH have set up streamed gigs over the lockdown and although my music doesn't tend to fit with their vibe, I think Pablo may be able to get involved.
Sofar Sounds are a global company and are letting artists live stream onto their facebook page. I've been looking for a way in but can't get very far. I think that maybe you have to be of a certain calibre to get in. The streams look pretty basic, like most streams these days. I'll keep you posted in this one.
I've worked at schools delivering workshops based around filmmaking, animation and music before and always have so much fun. Most of my work is in collaboration with Upbeat Music & Arts. I've been thinking about getting Lockdown project up and running, in the hopes that it helps with homeschooling and bringing families together. I've emailed Dave at upbeat and he is keen to give it a blast.
I started creating the structure for a workshop delivery over zoom which looked something like this -
I am on zoom to the whole family.
I ask them to pair up (or individually, there are many variants depending on family size and ages)
In your team, find 5 items in the house/room and bring them back to the laptop.
Let's look at what we have found, how would we best describe these objects to someone that cant see them?
In your teams this on 3 separate places, now pick one and tell me about it - what is the weather like? Is it hot or cold? etc
No let's place one of the 5 objects in this environment. Why are they there? What are they doing? Are them inanimate, of have they come alive? - very freeform imagination.
No what happens if another object enters the environment? how does it get there, what does it do etc...
Should they travel to another place?
This is where the participants really take the story to a new level - just letting them decide whatever they like.
After a while, I will ask the teams to swap stories! Letting the other team finish the story (in secret)
After 15 mins ish, Each team returns the story to the other and they read it out loud.
This would be a good natural ending, but there are areas to expand if needed - ie illustrate the stories, create music based on the story etc..
I'm looking forward to giving it a go!
I think the video has turned out well. I made the green screen just bad enough to be comical (hopefully). And if that wasn't enough, the 'walk' into the bedroom is fantastically bad. I've also got Cat Stevens and Vincent Van Gogh to act as the backing vocalists which is pretty cool. Plus there's little things all over the room that represent me and my interests. The animations grows through the video and I hope you like it!
The audio for the track has been mixed and mastered by Tobias and I am chuffed with the outcome. I have uploaded it to Bandcamp as they have the simplest set up for an artist and lots of people use it and are raving about it and it's contributions to artist during the lockdown.
So I am going to write some things out just to help organise them as there seems to be a lot going on.
I have decided to try several 'projects' that all fall under the Araby umbrella.
1 - Live Show.
What: A live music performance that will be streamed.
Why: Araby needs to perform music and tell stories, if we weren't in lockdown then I would be pout and about doing lots of this. Creating a single high quality live stream will hopefully gain more followers on the social medias and eventually lead to more interest when we come out of lockdown.
2 - Track Release
What: 3 new tracks (minimum) to be released online for peoples consumption.
Why: I haven't released any new music in so long which is RIDICULOUS considering I am a musician. I'm hoping to share these tracks to help promote the upcoming live show too, it will all build my social media following.
3 - Video Release
What: Music videos for the 3 tracks above.
Why: I think the visuals are going to be very important in my future work. I have always loved the music video medium as a story telling platform, so I am going to utilise this within the aesthetics of Araby.
4 - Writing Workshop
What: Delivery of an online Zoom/skype workshop aimed at primary aged children (and their parents).
Why: It could lead to work after lockdown and it will be nice for either the parents to take a break from home schooling OR it would be a nice way for the parents to 'go to school' with their kids.
So at the moment I feel like I am walking on stilts at the edge of my mind.
There are obvious limitations with my planned project that I've mentioned a little before, but the purpose of this post is to lay it all out and I'm hoping that by doing so I will be able to come up with some other ideas or plans... or something.
Obviously I will not be in a theatre anytime soon. There is the potential of streaming a performance but I feel that it won't have the same effect as I know that I rely SO much on audience participation. I can't imagine a stand up comedian doing their normal stand up routine to a camera - they will adapt it into a sketch or 'vlog' style performance. And after my discussion with Glesni, I really don't want to throw my plans into a different medium simply because the lockdown has forced me to.
My Immediate line of thought is to just resort back to my comfort zone of just performing music - This will be way easier to do, because I don't have to gauge the audience's reaction to work from. The stories are still being birthed and I need to make sure they are tested out and developed with audiences before I perform them 'properly', whereas my songs are just songs, people expect a 3-4 minute song and they already have preconceptions of what they would sound like from me too, so there is a nice comfortable area to lie down in here.
I feel like I still need to poke out into my writing a bit more though, I am just unsure how to at the moment.
I think I will attempt a story live stream and see how it goes. because why the hell not. Who cares right? Only my mum will be watching anyways probably. And she loves anything I do, so getting a 5 start review straight out the bag from my mam might be worth streaming.
I think it depends how that goes, but I'll probably just plan a normal livestream gig on a platform other than my Facebook, maybe. Speak to Liv and Glesni about maybe streaming on their Facebook pages (Riverfront & WMC).
I spoke on the phone to Glesni Price-Jones who is an Assistant Producer at the WMC.
The WMC have an 'Open Office' scheme in which artists can book in a 20-30 minute slot for a conversation with a producer at the WMC to discuss their ideas and gain feedback.
I wanted to find out how I can get my show from my head and onto the stage. Here are some of the key points that Glesni raised.
The WMC host at least two scratch nights per year and told me to keep my eyes peeled and to apply as soon as it comes up. The WMC scratch night gains a large audience and there's plenty of opportunity for feedback - plus its a 'pay what you feel' with the money going to the artists.
They have a small stage area in the cafe where they tend to put on smaller productions. This is the space that I would most realistically be able to get into first.
They do offer production support (similar to the Riverfront) however they wouldn't look into my project as they start with projects that are already drawing crowds of 200-300 people. So that kinda sucks, but I guess it's something to aim for!
I recently had the pleasure of having a good chat with the Liv Harris the Creative producer at The Riverfront Theatre in Newport. I wanted to pick her brain about the audiences that visit her theatre and how they go about attracting more people.
They key points from this conversation were the following
1 - The 'main' theatre must be commercially viable (big name shows, popular tributes etc) so that they can be more experimental and take bigger risks in the studio theatre.
This is important because, knowing that they take risks means they are more likely to put on an original and unheard of show (me).
2 - They are trying to produce and co-produce more in house productions.
This was potentially very positive for me - if I could put myself in the position for them to want to produce this show then that would be fantastic! I just need to figure out how to get from where I am (just ideas and the odd video) to where I want to be (being produced by them).
3 - 'I will always have coffee with someone and listen to their pitch'
Liv said that she will always have a meeting with a performer no matter who they are, just to listen to their idea(s) and see how she can help. She said that the riverfront might not be able to help, but she will more often than not find a more suitable venue or company that would be able to.
I have already booked myself in for a coffee meeting with her in regards to my show.
There was a lot more that we discussed but these are the main points.