We’ve been fans of Lucy’s music for a long time now, so when she approached us about making a music video for the release of her new single ‘Heartbeats’, we jumped at the chance.
Lucy is majorly talented and creative, so right from the beginning this was a very collaborative project. We would bat ideas back and forth, and then with Lucy we would really develop and form them.
The great thing about music videos is that you’re not starting with a blank piece of paper, but rather the music itself drives your creativity.
We simply started by closing our eyes and listening. The imagery and atmosphere that it evoked for us was incredibly similar (perhaps we’ve been spending too much time together), and we immediately had the visual concept of travelling and an outdoor party. Combined with Lucy’s themes of unity and togetherness, as well as wanting to avoid a musical performance aspect to the video, we had a pretty solid concept that was quickly turned into a story.
We really didn’t have a lot of time before the release, so the finer details and ideas were explored whilst we were working out the practicalities.
And a huge chunk of the producing credit goes to Lucy, who pulled together and co-ordinated friends and family to help be in the film, and to set up the garden party itself. Throw in a very short timeframe and a tube strike for flavour, and you’ve got some great organising skills there, from Lucy.
The quick turnaround, also meant that we didn’t have time for fully fledged storyboards. So our approach was more about finding the shots in the moment and returning to our mood board for reference.
We’d planned for the start of the film to incorporate much more symmetry and isolation within the frame and to gradually progress to more and more crowded and interesting compositions, representing connection. We move from wider framing to closer and closer, and we decided that handheld would be our main approach, because we wanted it to feel very real.
The visual language can be very subtle, and not always perceived by the viewer, but we love it because it feels like it really adds depth and meaning to every frame. One of the more subtle approaches to our cinematography was the extra space above a character, implying the presence of God or a higher power. Because Lucy is a Christian and her music is an important expression of her faith, we considered how that threads through this video.
Here are a few incredible films that we used as inspiration, that incorporated really great handheld camera, and also explore the themes of travel or eating/dancing together.
We love this film by the MusicBed, it was a large inspiration for the travelling aspect of our film. (It also has a nice example of on-screen text which was an idea we ended up cutting from our video).
This is an all-round beautiful film, I recommend watching the whole thing. But if you’re saving time, it’s from 7 minutes in that we took our inspiration from for the dancing. It also has a fine example of handheld cinematography.
This film from the team at Variable felt more like the scope of our film, and again, worth watching the whole thing, but we took our specific inspiration from 1min 26 onwards; the food, the people, and the handheld camera.
You might recognise some of our stills on the mood board are taken from these films. And we thought it might be interesting to show you some comparisons of the inspiration to the finished frame:
We filmed ‘Heartbeats’ on a Panasonic GH4 with a variety of lenses (although we rarely went beyond 50mm because of the handheld). We were very intentional about what frame rate we would be shooting at, because we love the detail you get with the 4K and we also wanted to avoid changing our minds and speeding up any 96fps (filmed slo-motion) in post, and getting that high shutter speed look.
We spent the beginning of our shooting day driving around London, from location to location and filming very quickly. Whilst we filmed a lot handheld, we were using the extra time that afforded us to set up lights, reflectors and the odd tripoded shots.
We then spent the afternoon and evening shooting the garden party scene. We had a 3 light set-up to add a bit of filler light and colour, and add a bit of consistency to the quickly changing natural light.
Everyone involved were friends of Lucy’s, and were all genuinely having a meal together and having fun. With a bit of direction from us, and a little bit of encouragement to dance, we’re really grateful for their help and feel like we captured some authentic interactions.