While taking time out from editing and filming, I thought I’d spend a few minutes giving a sneak-peak behind the curtain, just to show what goes into making the Fractured series.
As each film (usually) focuses on one band or artist, the starting point is quite simple – finding the right band and approaching them about filming. What exactly do I mean by the right band? For me, it’s about showing the broad scope of Irish underground music – as a music fan, I’m an all-rounder, and on any given day could go from listening to doom, death, punk and electronics, and I’ve a feeling a lot of people are the same as me. If I was only going to make a series on Death Metal, for example, I’d imagine the scope would be even more limited than it already is – besides, our music scene is too small to focus on just one particular sub genre. So, variety is definitely the spice of life.
After giving extensive thought to each individual band, and what sense of freshness each could offer, I do the hardest part – actually asking them if they want to give up time and energy to help me make one of these films. Surprisingly, I’ve had a great response from the bands I’ve approached – they see the merits in the series as a whole, and it’s something that genuinely interests them. Not every band I’ve approached has jumped on board, though; and that’s absolutely fine. A lot has to go into doing it, and some bands are busy enough with their own schedules and gigs without allowing me into the circle. Also, image can be an important factor to them too; would you really want me pointing a camera at you behind the scenes of what goes into making the music? It’s a tough one, and not something everyone would feel comfortable with, and that’s why I fully understand when you get that resounding ‘no’. Other times, there’s bands I really want to work with, but I just know it won’t actually work out; either I know I’m not available on their few dates of live shows, etc, or that they just don’t get together as a band often enough to allow it to happen. It’s a pity, but sadly the way it is sometimes.
Luckily enough, the ‘yeses’ outweigh the ‘no’s’, so the series is able to exist. Once the band have agreed to be part of it, trying to figure out the film is the next step. What can we actually film? Are we available on dates that suit both the band and myself? Usually, we start with a rehearsal, with me popping along and doing my best to hide in the corner while filming, with causing as little disruption as possible. In the case of the film with Brian Conniffe, this was more difficult, as he usually works alone in his own space, so blending into the background was next to impossible, hence why I used a slider for one of the opening shots. FRACTURED THREE also contains elements of filming with one person, and you just have to do your best not to draw attention away from what they are doing – never easy, as I can seldom keep my mouth closed long enough. When it’s a full band, things are a bit easier; they have each other to distract from the strange man who has invaded their space, with only a few moments that bring me out into the spotlight.
It’s obviously quite different when they are performing on stage, with a full audience – I can vanish easily among the crowd, and generally I just look like a photographer to most of the bystanders. Helping me out with all of this is obviously the camera gear I use. DSLR’s – specifically, the 5D and 7D – really have helped change the way we shoot this sort of thing – they work well enough in low light conditions, and with the right set of lenses, you can get away with most club and dingy rehearsal room settings. It also means that I don’t have to draw too much attention to me while filming, meaning neither the bands nor the audience feels uncomfortable. It allows me to capture everyone in a natural state, resulting in footage that feels just that little bit more intimate.
Other times I’ve found myself filming in different locations outside of rehearsal spaces and venues. Recently, I had the pleasure of filming in the recording studio with a band, hard at work on some new tracks. This can be tough, as not only is time tight for the band in a studio, but getting things 100% right without distractions is the most important part for them. Once again, I just did my best to ‘hide’ – using lenses that allow me get up close from the opposite side of the room was the best way to go about it. Thankfully the band rarely noticed I was there, and I quietly snuck out while vocals were being recorded without them even noticing. You really do have to be a filming ninja sometimes…