Substitute - "MANIC" Music Video
I made this music video for the song "Manic" by the Brooklyn band Substitute to support the release of their 2023 album. I'm friends with the band, so I directed and edited the project for free, and by myself. Shanna Polley contributed sound design. The band -- Paul, Ben, and Tarik -- contributed their spaces and vehicles as locations for the video. The video was filmed in Bushwick and East Williamsburg, at Paul's house, Ben's workshop, on the streets of the warehouse district, on stage at TV Eye, and in the practices spaces of Our Wicked Lady.

The Concept
We had no budget, as is often the case for independent projects, so we had to shelve our bigger ideas (such as video set on an apocalyptic version of Jeopardy! hosted by the devil) and come up with a project that could make the most of the environment around us, the iconic, graffiti-covered neighborhoods of Brooklyn.

Paul and I came up with the concept of "the best air guitar video we can pull off," and ironically ended up capturing something very specific, grounded, and real. The feeling of that song idea that gets stuck in your head until you can gather your people together in your practice space to sort it out, only to realize you all already hear the song in your heads. The next thing you know, you're letting it loose at a legendary local venue like TV Eye. The question is, how do you get people to come and listen? We had a lot of fun taking air guitar, drums, and bass as seriously as we could, to the point where you might forget that no one is playing an instrument in the end. It's that "commitment to the bit" that I feel reflects the work it takes to make the music happen, and something I see happening with Substitute as they turn their ideas into reality.
Behind the Scenes
We shot the video with a simple outline that was used as the basis for improvisation at each location. The outline was essentially that we see Paul, Ben, and Tarik on their own. Each of them hears the song in their head, starts "air guitaring," and brings the song in their heads to the band's practice space. Finally, we cut to the band performing, without instruments, on stage. We dolly out to reveal that there are no instruments and no audience members. All the details of what was filmed were decided in the moment on set. Because I was also editing the project, I planned to get enough angles to make the edit really dynamic. 

I shot the video on my Panasonic GH6 with a rig I custom-built myself. I used a stabilizer for some shots, but was pleasantly surprised that the in-camera image stabilization worked so well on its own. I filmed exclusively with the 10-25mm f1.7 Panasonic. The lens was so versatile I didn't need to reach into my kit for anything else.

Editing the video was a joy. I have always loved the problem-solving aspect of figuring out how to make the project "work" in the edit.  The concept of linking the band members through electricity at the beginning of the video, for instance, came to me in the edit phase. Ben's oscilloscope (so cool!) the static fuzz from Paul's TV (where he plays Super Smash Brothers), and the spark plug from Tarik's car, subtly express the idea that the "music is in the air."

In the end, Shanna Polley added some finishing sound effects that helped build suspense at the beginning of the video.

I'm super proud of this video. It works, it has had a good reception, and it looks beautiful in my opinion. Moreover, it is a good example of how to think creatively with the resources that you've got. The air guitar is literally doing more with less. The video works because we built a compelling but simple outline where we could watch Paul, Ben, and Tarik play so believably that you almost forget there aren't instruments.

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