Technical Demonstrator in Film Fred Reed walks us through the anatomy of his music video for the Spindle Ensemble
Some events in life are just kismet. While creative collaborations are often hard work, as any Bath Spa staff or student can attest, sometimes things fall into place a little easier than usual.
Recently an event came together that I think represents just this kind of kismet. Bath Spa’s Technical Demonstrator in Film Production Fred Reed got in touch with me one day to share a music video he had made in collaboration with local Classical music quartet the Spindle Ensemble. When I sat down with him to discuss the process of creating this video - made with the help of Bath Spa students and facilities - he seemed in awe of the fluidity of how it all came together.
Like much of the staff at Bath Spa, Fred was itching to make something creative. During a Q&A session with the group after a recent performance, the opportunity presented itself - they were looking to collaborate and make some music videos. Did anyone want to help? It was the universe, it seemed, offering a calling, to which Fred responded. He approached the band with an idea of making a video that would envision Classical music in a different way, matching the energy of the band’s performance with the charisma of a rock video.
A Bath Spa affair
The resulting video of their work 'The Chase' was the product of a one day shoot in our film studios in Commons. Fred worked with a team of four others; two students - Cameron Reed (camera operator) and Chessie Sharman (camera assistant/playback) - as well as project manager Liz Christie, and Jeremy Hogg on lighting. The students helped to pre rig the studio lighting the day before, to ensure an early start for the following day.
Cameron and Chessie discussed their experience of being on set and helping out with the filming:
Cameron: "The group and the video's crew were proactive and always keen throughout the process of production, right through to our shooting day back in July 2019. I always like learning on the job, my camera skills and attention to detail have only been benefited from this experience; we were able to harness the fantastic facilities that Bath Spa University offers, using them to the best of our advantage."
Chessie: "I was on playback so I would play the music track from where the band needed it for whichever bit of the video we needed to shoot and I would also help set up shots and plug HDMI leads from the cameras to the TVs so everyone could see the shot clearly. All in all it was a very useful and such good experience for me going forward in my degree."
Fred’s envisioned simplicity as the order for the day. He saw the video as a study of beauty in minimalism - a focus on the act of creation of the music as opposed to what the music makes you feel, or the status of its performers. Unlike a typical multi camera studio production, the video primarily used a single camera to film, with a second camera only operated occasionally, which made Fred’s choice for shots more considered and deliberate. The video was also constructed to mimic the narrative of the song, with a dreamy middle interlude to mark the bridging point between the start and finish.
One thing I noticed right away? The musicians were all wearing varying shades of green. Was this a considered choice? When asked about the symbolism of this, Fred explained that the beauty of the spring landscape at Newton Park offered him inspiration - which he passed onto the band. They in turn developed the idea of a green and brown palette that would suggest the harmony between the leaves of the trees and the soft wood of the bark - providing both highlight and contrast to the instruments. An autumn release for the video completed the story - with every shade of green and brown all around under a blue sky. Kismet seemed to strike again.
What Fred’s video highlights for us is that works of creative collaboration at Bath Spa are often a combination of luck, work, and vision. Great pieces of art are created by working across boundaries and disciplines, by converting sound to the visual and back again, and by leaning on the expertise of people from all stages of life - student, staff, or spouse alike. In order to continue to create, we have to reach out into the community, like Fred did, and take a risk, or embrace a project that might be outside our scope. We hope everyone at Bath Spa will take note.
All images courtesy of Cameron Reed and Chessie Sharman.
Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.
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We go behind the scenes with Fred Reed and Film Production students to create a music video for the Spindle Ensemble