The art behind music videos

AudioOpera’s “Forever”  a staff pick on Vimeo

Winnipeg filmmaker Avery Stedman is changing views that music videos are not artistic with his latest piece for AudioOpera’s “Forever.”

“For me, as a filmmaker, there’s no film organization or grant organization that I can go to that I can get support for myself,” Stedman says.

He says he could get funding for a 10-minute comedy or drama no problem, but his work loses its artistic merit if he calls it a music video. 

For his most recent video, Graeme Barrett – the solo musician behind AudioOpera – had to apply for the funding. The two friends don’t work together the way most musicians and music video producers do.

“The way I work with people is extremely collaborative,” Stedman says.

This method works well for Barrett, who says he likes to have a say in the creative process. He says he usually comes in with a pinpointed idea of what he likes and what he wants it to look like.

“I’m very aware of what I want to do, and I have a clear cut idea. And Avery really helps to mould that into the best thing we can do for it,” Barrett says.

“Forever” was a combination of locations Stedman was interested in using and imagery Barrett had in mind.

The video ended up being a comedy about a divorced dad, played by Kevin McDonald, who finds a mysterious business card on his car’s windshield and then goes on a short adventure of self-discovery.

“Kevin’s a superstar, baby! He’s not a diva or anything,” Barrett says.

Getting him on set was a great learning experience for both Stedman and Barrett because McDonald is an Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) member.

“With ACTRA, you technically can’t have a performer who’s in the union be in an indie production that isn’t ACTRA-certified without getting an IPA agreement, which is an Independent Production Agreement,” Stedman says.

ACTRA employees helped them get through the paperwork, of which Stedman says there was a lot.

“We’re getting insurance for actors who are doing all these incidental claims for something where he literally eats a mustard sandwich, but we have to go through this because of the legalities of it,” Barrett says.

Once McDonald was on set, however, Barrett says the shoot was easy.

The video had an unexpected debut on Much Music, Barrett says. He sub-mitted it, not expecting it would actually be played.

It was after that they put the video up on Vimeo, where it became a staff pick.

“I know staff pick of Vimeo is a good thing,” Barrett says. “The way Much Music validates me as a musician, it validates Avery as an artist.”

Stedman says now that “Forever” has been endorsed by Vimeo, his work has been recognized as artistic, and he may have an easier time getting funding for future music videos.

Published in Volume 71, Number 7 of The Uniter (October 20, 2016)

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