Home » Uncategorized » Anatomy of a Music Video 2: Making $15,000 look like $50,000

Anatomy of a Music Video 2: Making $15,000 look like $50,000

Today we are going to break down Junior Gordon’s Hit Music Video Country Lovin, and see what it took to create it. We will look at the tools, the crew, the actors and the budget. In breaking down the details of this video shoot, you will be able to see how we were able to make a $15,000 Music video look like a $50,000 video.

The video was broken down into 2 parts a storyline and the bands live performance. The storyline is about a young Country Couple’s struggle between their love for each other and the male leads love for Rodeo and Bull Riding. JT is a rising star on the Rodeo circuit, his Girlfriend Kourtney has to deal with other women, fans and friends creating times of doubt and distractions from their relationship.

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We had 5 major scenes, with 3 main locations to shoot in 3 days. The crew consisted of Roy Schneider- Producer/Director, Cheramy Gordon- Co-Producer/Location Coordinator, Jim Coulter- Director of Photography, Jaime Carreon- Key Grip, Focus Puller, Martini Lighting and his crew and 4 interns from the local college for extra hands. Cheramy Gordon  was a major key to getting that big budget look for less. She was able to secure all the locations, bulls, bull handlers, rodeo personnel, show cars and actors without taking money out of our budget. This allowed us to use the budget for equipment, crew, and post.

Aside from a quality professional crew, there are numerous aspects of a Music Video that gives it “Production Value” and that “High End” look. First is the quality of the camera, lenses (and types of lenses) and gear used. Another aspect is camera movement and tools to create clean and fluid movement. Great Lighting is essential as well.


For this video, we were using the Red Scarlet camera, Stedi-Cam for moving the camera with a floating feel, A jib to smoothly lift and lower the camera smoothly, and a Dolly for Left to Right Camera Movement.


Jib Movement Sample

Stedi-Cam  Movement

Dolly Movement


Day 1 was slated for the Picnic Scene and for the Late Night Make Out Scene. Because we wanted to use Golden Hour (the couple of hours right before the sun goes down) for the picnic scene, as well as, various production tools (Jib, Stedi-Cam, Dolly and Video Drone) we needed to work fast and highly efficient if we were to get all the shots we needed before the sun went down. We need a dolly shot and drone shot of the couple coming over the fence, and a Jib, then Stedi-Cam shot of them walking to the island. After that we need the kiss shot as well. All in about 2 hours. In Post we wanted the golden hour feel, but wanted to keep skin tones close to normal with just a little golden glow.


Above was the initial set-up shot on a Dolly/Slider then picked up by the DJI Phantom Drone. From there we moved to the other side of the lake to pick up the jib shot of them walking to the island for their picnic and eventual kiss. This scene also used stedi-cam, drone, and regular tripod. Now was this time we had to really work with the actors to get them comfortable enough to get a realistic kiss.



Here is the scene…



Once the scene wrapped we went right into the night time Makeout Scene. This scene was shot on the frontside of the pond making for a quick transition. We used the Jib as our prime movement here, and lit the scene with soft lights and reflectors. We were looking for a very Dark looking night scene, but wanted our actors to stand out. We wanted it to feel like moonlight with a touch of blue.



Here is the scene…



Crew for that day included…

Producer/Director    $800                                                                                                                          

Director of Photography (Camera Op/Director)   Package deal with Cam and First Assistant  $2,100

4 Interns           $100    



Day 2 was an early call. We were slated to shoot Rodeo Riding Scenes, reaction scenes, The Bands Performance and Junior Separate from the Band.This footage would be shown throughout the video and it was important to get the exact look we were going for. For this shoot we brought in Gaffer Troy Webb’s Martini Lighting to help us with this set-up. We were in a covered outdoor rodeo arena. The look we wanted to create for this scene that was blown out beyond the main action with a cool tint. Some Blue skin was fine for the look. DP Jim Coulter worked closely with the gaffer to get the look we needed. Lighting consisted of numerous large HMI lights to match the outdoor lighting color.

Jim was using all the tools here, Jib, Dolly, Hand-Held and Stedi-Cam. We started with the Bull Riding and reactions…



Once the riding was finished, we quickly brought the band in and reset. the band was set up spread deeper back than normal to create the depth of field we were looking for. On the close-ups of Junior we tightened them back up. Were were looking for some quick movement to go with certain hits of the son. We wanted it to look intimate, but big. We wanted you to really feel close to the singer, using slow moving Extreme Close-ups.







Crew for that day included…

Producer/Director    $800                                                                                                                          

Director of Photography (Camera Op/Director)   Package deal with Cam and First Assistant  $2,100        

Gaffer/Full 4 ton Lighting Truck       $1,500   

Rigging Grip     came with lighting truck                                                                                                                                                          

4 Interns           $100     


Day 3 was shot at an old Country Drive-in Burger Joint. There were a number of Hot Rods in the parking lot to make it look like it was the local hangout. We had numerous extras to fill out the scene. We shot with Jib and Stedi-Cam. The look was again the blownout tinting to blue.


Here is a look at the Scene…



Crew for that day included…

Producer/Director    $800                                                                                                                          

Director of Photography (Camera Op/Director)   Package deal with Cam and First Assistant  $2,100

4 Interns           $100    



As for the budget, this video is for an independent artist and mostly coming out of his pocket, so we try to keep the budget as low as possible. That being said, you want the quality to be such that it can air on National TV Networks. I only use Professional folks in Production positions and pay a fair rate. That is how they make their living. Cheramy Gordon did a lot of the leg work and hustle that saved a fortune for the artist.

The breakdown of the budget is as follows

Pre-Production– $500.00 (creating storyline, scheduling talent and crew, scheduling shooting times and locations, working with DP to create look and style, working with crew members to make sure all equipment and people are in place

Shoot- $10,500 broken down above

Post- $4,000 (40 Hours Editing and Color Grading) Because this was shot in the RAW format all files had to be color graded before editing could start. Post was highly discounted to bring the video in on budget. I would have loved to had another $2,000 to use an outside colorist.



The take away from this is that we can create a wonderful Music Video in all price ranges. It is not that you are getting ripped off if the price is higher in most cases, it is that the Producer is adding more production value to the shoot. In a $5,000 video you won’t get all the toys like Stedi-Cam and Jib, but that does not mean we can’t create a great piece, it just means we have to take a different approach.



As always when considering investing in  Music Video, as with any type of Marketing, you should decide what you want to accomplish with it. How are you going to use it, where are you going to use it, what do you expect the fans to get from it? Once you can answer those questions deciding on the type of Production and Production Value will be easier to choose.









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