How to (really) Make a Music Video

Mar 04, 2015 | 9:35 AM

The radio experts on my team selected the single “Never Satisfied” as a good option for AC radio. I had to make a video to accompany it, and, truth be told, I wasn’t sure where to begin.

start where?HOW DO YOU EVEN START?

The song was originally penned by a terrific songwriter and performer, Bianca Mancinelli. The general gist of the lyric has us thinking that the singer is in a relationship with a guy she can never please no matter how kinky things get, but the twist in the bridge let’s us in on her sassy secret. “You may think that it’s strange, or that I’m really bad,” the lyric goes, “but I like that way!”

 

When I played the song for my producer, Bob Rock, he loved the strength but said he couldn’t see me “in that scenario.” So we cut the bridge, and the song took it’s first turn off it’s original path: it became a statement of indignation; a plea for understanding. “Don’t sound too angry!” Bob kept warning me while we recorded. “No one likes to listen to an angry woman.” I reminded him about Alanis Morissette and we compromised at “annoyed yet amused.”

 

With Bob’s words in mind, I decided to avoid video plots or imagery that focused on anything kinky, bondage-oriented or angry.

 

I was drawing a real blank, so I listened to ideas from potential directors. Here are a few samples:

 

PITCH 1.

You drive to a weekend house in the woods dressed glamorously in a chiffon gown. We then cut to a strip club where we see you pole dancing…

 

PITCH 2.

We see a quaint suburban house and find you in bed in a chaste nightie. Your husband, in suit and tie, gives you birthday gift. You open it and your eyes go wide in horror. We never see what’s in the box. The husband leaves and you make a witches brew (you’re actually a witch) and turn your husband into a hedgehog.

 

PITCH 3.

At the start of the video we see a guy tied to a chair wearing nothing but little girls party socks . He has a ballgag in his mouth. We see you pacing in the background wearing black leather spikes…

 

“Can we possibly create something that has nothing to do with relationships between the sexes?” I asked.

 

Winning pitch from director Steve Willis:

You’re on your way to a red carpet event and the people who are never satisfied with you are the critics… you don’t know what to wear. You imagine yourself copying some of the iconic outfits of the past— Cher, JLo, Bjork— but none are really you and the critics can tell. It’s still not -enough to copy others.

 

BINGO! We were in business.

We had two weeks. That’s not a lot of time for a project like this. After finalizing the budget and securing the location, we dove into the toughest part: creating the costumes. Super-genius costume creator, Kyle Kupres , took my measurements by phone and began work in LA. One week later, he flew to NYC. He went from the airport to the studio and began pinning.

bjork dress

In between fittings, my stylist, Lisa von Weise Shaw, and I ran to Albright Fashion Rental house and went through their stash of accessories and shoes. When they asked what we were looking for, Lisa said, “Things that will look good with Isabel’s naked body.”

The next morning I woke up at 4 am and hit the arc machine for a hi-effort 30 minute cardio workout. My make up genius, Tracy, arrived at 5 am and set about the task of transforming me into a movie star.

make up lessons

We left for the set at 7 am, and my hair stylist got to work. And at 9:30, the first shot was supposed to be up, but wasn’t. At 10:30, I asked how things were looking. And at 11am, I went down to the street and sat down in a limousine wearing nothing but a blanket, a necklace, a few rings and a pair of shoes.

It was a long day and a longer night. My make up guru had to put make up in places I never thought anyone would. At one point, I was adding Wild Turkey to my Chamomile Tea. By 8pm, I was tossing peanut m&m’s by the fistful into my mouth, and by midnight I simply couldn’t stand up anymore.

never satisfied video

I got home at 1 am, wondering what on earth we would do with the footage we shot. We had shots of me pretending to fall off a cliff, we had shots of me crawling across the red carpet, we had shots of me flipping the bird, we had shots of my stark naked looking happy, looking sad, looking anxious, looking bored.

If you think the real work happens on set, you’re in for a major surprise when you go through your footage and try to tell a story with it. What you thought would work in concept, rarely works in actuality. And you end up with all kinds of shots you never thought of during your story boarding.

I worked with Yossi Kimberg, a veteran and genius who’s worked with Jerry Seinfeld for many years and won all kinds of impressive awards. Yossi was patient and focused on telling the right story. He tried everything I asked, even when I insisted that he make it look like I was jumping in the air in my chicken outfit and landing in an outlandish position— two completely unrelated shots.

After many color passes and glazes and endless searches for Getty stock images of Paparazzi on the red carpet, here’s what we made. I hope you like it!

3 thoughts on “How to (really) Make a Music Video”

  1. Marc Van de velde     Reply

    Why transform into a movie star? You ARE A MOVIE STAR !

  2. Tom Canaday     Reply

    Satisfied !

  3. Shannon     Reply

    Awesome! Love your Cher moves!

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