In 2017 I toured Europe with NZ Green Party international candidate) Bridget Walsh, hosting pop-up events to encourage expat kiwis to vote in the 2017 New Zealand election. Bridget got used to having my camera in her face, so late last year when the election dust was well settled and we’d resumed our ‘normal’ lives, I took up an invitation to film and edit the maiden live show of her latest songs and brand new band.
I’ve never shot a music gig before, but it was a challenge worth taking. Firstly of course for the filmmaking experience, and secondly to help out Bridget, who had put her music career on hold for many months while championing a change for good in our home country of Aotearoa.
Having at least two camera angles was a given, so thankfully I was able to borrow a second DSLR and utilise Bridget’s GoPro. But all the planning and thinking and widgets can only go so far when the music starts, when you never know quite where or how your main subject will be standing, let alone what the lighting might be doing next.
In some ways it was like observational documentary shooting – capturing the action as best I could as it unrolled in front of me at a furious pace with no setups, no reshoots, no time for hesitation.
My 7D on a tripod at the back of the room captured the essential wide shot, but also meant that I had to lurk in the shadows with the 5D (held arm-achingly aloft on a monopod) to avoid appearing in my own shot – not to mention getting in the way of the audience’s enjoyment of the show.
Post-production was another good learning experience. The ‘promo reel’ is effectively a B2B tool; so the challenge was cutting down and cutting between multiple songs to create something short but with enough content to enthuse promoters. Craft-wise there were tricky moments like getting to grips with the nuances of where to cut a bass riff. Bridget’s ear for (cutting out) moments when things sounded off-key was an eye-opener (er, ear-opener?) – it all sounded great to me!
Editing individual songs was a separate mindset again. The edit of 'Pockets' is not a music video as such, but I brought in as much visual sparkle as possible to try and make it more than just a straight capture of the performance. They’re a fun band to be around, so some behind-the-scenes glimpses from the rehearsal helped add some fun, and break things up visually.
Filming gigs isn’t something I plan to make a habit of, but it was a buzz hanging with the band, pushing the envelope of my editing skills, and gratifying to support great original music.
If you’re in or near London, you can see Bridget live next Friday, 26 February, as part of this launch gig. (Click here for tickets)
Otherwise check out her web page for other upcoming gigs, and her numerous social channels @missbdwalsh. Plus if you’re a musician or artist, take a look at indhe.org, Bridget's pioneering global online community.