Rick Macomber on Shooting the Music Video "Ready or Not" by Air Traffic Controller

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  • Rick Macomber on Shooting the Music Video "Ready or Not" by Air Traffic Controller

    Exclusive Q&A with Rick Macomber

    Crafting Music into a Visual Story

    By Wynona Luz, Contributing Writer, StudentFilmmakers Magazine

    How did you get involved in the making of the music video "Ready or Not" by Air Traffic Controller?

    Rick Macomber: I'm a musician, and I play at some bars now and then. I met singer-songwriter Dave Munro, lead singer of ATC at his brother Jeff's open mic in Malden about 8 years ago. We became friends. I've shot a few other music videos for ATC in the past. When I heard Dave sing "Ready or Not" solo acoustic one night at the bar, I knew it was a very personal and emotional song, and it touched me. When the new NORDO album recently dropped, and I heard the studio version on the CD, I knew then and there I wanted to produce and direct the music video for it. I had developed an emotional attachment to that song.

    Being one of the writers, how did you come up with the concept?

    Rick Macomber: My original idea came from the opening words "Ready or Not." It reminded me of the childhood hide-and-seek game. So my vision was to start the video as a narrative short film with children playing the game in the woods. Then it blossomed into another parallel story where two adults have an argument, and the guy chases after his girlfriend.

    Dave and I kicked this premise around over some beer in a bar in South Boston one night, and we decided the video did need the adult backstory. So now, there were the children and the adults involved in a search. From the start I had planned only to use the performance video of ATC for the chorus segments, as I liked the way the chorus slams at you with lots of energy compared to the rest of the tune, which is softer and more emotional. I also wanted the ending to be unusual and different than the happy Hollywood-style ending, so I decided to do something to the two parallel stories to surprise you at the end. It's very ambiguous and open to interpretation. By design.

    What was your pre-production and development process like?

    Rick Macomber: I wrote a simple film-style script using the the lyrics and my camera shot ideas next to each line. Then I developed a shot list, which is crucial to moving the shoot along quickly on production days.  For instance, having scouted the mansion ahead of time where the kids hide, I worked the shot list around getting the lights set up for each floor and executing each shot, starting in the attic and moving down each level of the property and out to the exterior shots. All the shots would be completely out of order in relation to the linear timeline of the story, but it makes it so much easier for the setup and breakdown of each scene. When there is no budget you want to move as quickly as possible because everyone on board is pretty much donating their time on their days off from their day job.

    What kind of technologies did you use to shoot the music video? How did they contribute to the video overall?

    Rick Macomber: I shot the video with my Canon Cinema C300 using an assortment of fast lenses for a film look and a Tilta rig with mattebox. We also used Kessler sliders and cranes and a Glidecam 4000 HD. In post we gave the video a retro feel color grade.

    There was a scene where the girl hides in the unfinished attic. It comes at a lull in the song, and I wanted the viewer to be suddenly surprised at that moment by bats or pigeons flapping in front of the camera as she enters the room. I had contacted some New England homing pigeon guys hoping one of them might work with us and release their birds in the attic on cue, but I was told the birds could only be released outdoors. Instead we used a pre-produced animated bird clip, which I keyed over the attic scene. I added some foley of wings flapping and if you suspend your disbelief for a split second, it looks quite real.

    Did you encounter any issues while shooting or editing? How did you overcome those obstacles?

    Rick Macomber: The only obstacle we had was the fact that the band was busy until it became too cold outside to shoot their performance scenes. We overcame that by shooting those scenes in a studio. We actually shot the entire narrative portion of the script first and laid that into the sequence in post production and left black holes for the band performance shots to be inserted later. We even shot the string section separately and dropped that scene into the sequence independently of the band performance shots. We were finally able to nail down the band performance shots after their tour ended in January. By then it was freezing outside.

    How did we make it look like the band was outdoors in the same location as the string section and stay warm and dry as well? The day I shot the string section in the forest, I had rolled the camera on a sunset timelapse as we were wrapping up for the day. I ended up projecting the moving image of the forest sunset on a large curtain behind the band in a studio. It worked out pretty damn good I think.

    Do you have any advice or insights for filmmakers trying to get their work recognized?

    Rick Macomber: Best advice to get your work noticed? Market yourself as much as possible. Use social media. It's free. And it's a fantastic way to advertise your brand and your product. Build a good website, and push it. Network with other creatives on Twitter and Facebook. Go to events where you will meet other filmmakers, DPs, producers, directors, editors and actors. And above all get out there, and make films. Stop all the shop talk about the latest gear, and stop shooting tests on this camera or that camera, and just create compelling stories that will be interesting to watch.

    ___________________________
    Jody Michelle Solis
    Editor-in-Chief
    StudentFilmmakers Magazine
    HD Pro Guide Magazine
    www.studentfilmmakers.com
    www.hdproguide.com

  • #2
    Thank you!
    Also Sign up for Global Filmmakers Network!
    https://networking.studentfilmmakers.com

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