...Before the deal was done with Eveo, I made sure they would pay for as many videos as I could possibly crank out. There was no minimum or maximum number. Each video could be just one piece or broken into several parts. This was key. I had total freedom. The one thing that was important to them is that the video was in focus (most of the time) and that there was audio. Period. I was unsure if they trusted my abilities or were completely out of their minds... Oh, and I got to keep the copyright and they would license the content. Not bad.
Once I got the go ahead, I called everyone I knew who was involved with the NYC art world or had a band that didn't suck. Part of the reason for pitching these series were because I went to a high-school of visual and performing arts in Miami called New World. I was still close with a bunch of people who were now breaking into the art or music world and thought this would be a great chance to highlight their work. Within an few days I had set up over a dozen shoots. It was the middle of winter and it was brutally cold in NY. I packed up my Sony TRV-900, ME66 shotgun mic, Arri light-kit and Russian fur hat and headed to NYC.
Most segments took two days to shoot. The first day was usually shooting b-roll of the artist or musician working... I was able to get familiar with their style and process. This allowed me to formulate questions for our interview which would usually happen on the second day. Most of the time, I realized that there was enough content to support two segments for each artist.
Once I started, I was soon being introduced to other artists, musicians, A&R execs, gallery owners, curators who all wanted to participate as well. It seemed each segment opened the door to two additional people to document.
The greatest discovery however was realizing how much people opened up if they didn't feel like there was pressure on them to deliver. Just being one guy with a camera, I think allowed people to let their guard down and just be themselves. There was an intimacy that I had never gotten before when working with a larger crew. Sure, when you have a team of people, the level of production value goes up (some of the time). I found the trade off was completely worth it. Getting great content from your subjects always trumps production value. Obviously, I tried my best to light things properly, get good audio and shoot with a steady hand and pick interesting angles, but nothing was more important than making sure the people I were taping were dynamic and fun to watch.
I also think my subjects saw that I was having a good time. And if I am having fun, there is no reason for them not to relax and have fun as well. When I would go on other shoots with larger crews, everything was always very professional and serious. Now, it was important to just relax, have fun and get the magic of the creative process.
The other major lesson I learned was that, being the shooter/producer as well as the editor, allowed me to shoot just enough so I could get a great segment. I didn't have to overshoot everything. Once I was in the editing room, the pieces came together fast. I knew where the best shots were. I could sometimes cut together two or three segments in a day.
To this day, I look back on those three weeks of shooting and realize that was the most fun I had creating a series. The initial fear I had that it was going to be crap because it wouldn't feel professional was crazy. Eveo wanted it to feel like an amateur made it. They wanted it grungy and homemade... Luckily, that's exactly what they got.
Within six weeks I delivered 33 segments - 20 on emerging artists, 13 on breaking bands. Eveo, I think was a bit shocked that I was able to crank out so many segments that quickly. They were very happy with the pieces, but more importantly, most of my subjects were also thrilled about their segments as well. That was a great payoff. Not to mention, I made ten grand. I think I was one of the first people hired to create original video content specifically for the Internet.
However, once the videos were up, it was clear that the technology was not yet ready for prime time. Most people still didn't have broadband and most computers took forever to stream a single piece of video. It wasn't long before the Internet bubble burst and many companies folded or changed their business model. It was a shame, because Eveo was really trying to make a great site that was about the democratization of video. It would take another six years till YouTube came along and proved that user generated content was a powerful creative force.
Here are a few segments for you to check out. I will add the complete series shortly. Hope you enjoy!
LOCKOUT: DJ JOE OF LINKIN PARK
STUDIO VISIT: RACHEL LEVINE