The first thing that came to your mind once you watched the video was probably: “That’s a great video. The shooting must have been very smooth.”
Well, not really. NOTHING WENT ACCORDING TO THE PLAN because of the weather. And you know what they say, the weather is the only thing you can’t control. Everything that could have gone wrong because of the weather went wrong, but as a team, we powered through to release this great video that you’ve just watched.
This story is for all passionate music producers out there that are looking for helpful tips on their video shooting projects in nature when everything is against them. Scroll down to find the tips! I hope you’ll laugh and share my pain - let me know what you think in the comments!
The plan that never worked out
In March 2022, I released my first deep house EP called Euphoria. My idea to promote it was to play and film my EP set on the top of a famous French lava dome called Puy de Dôme. The filming was in the hands of my mate Ben - a talented video maker who masters both the camera and drone shooting. I planned to shoot this video during the sunrise, around 6.30 am. I was supposed to play my set 4 times: two camera shots to get the most of me doing the music set. The remaining two takes were supposed to be done by a drone to capture the landscape around the lava dome. Jules, my other friend, was in charge of the neon lights that were installed around me to bring some action and colour to the set.
Sounds like an easy and smooth plan...don't you think?
But as you'll see below, NOTHING went according to my plan …
The real story of the video shooting
I Everything was falling apart
I knew that having Ben as a video maker and Jules helping with the lighting animation and the set installation was the winning team. So as planned, we arrived at the top of Puy de Dôme around 6 am to conquer the video shooting. The only thing we didn’t really expect was that the temperature was below 0°C, and more importantly, it was windy as hell! We thought that the installation of the set would take about 15 min, but the reality was very different. I installed the table, installed my pioneer controller, and the laptop stand. While turning behind to grab the speakers, I heard the laptop stand crashing hard on the ground. “Ok, I’ll have to do it without the laptop stand,” I murmured. In the meantime, Ben tried to install the neon lights around me, but they kept falling one by one… Action - reaction! He quickly secured their base with bricks to ensure they were standing still in this crazy wind. I was installing my speakers on the table. When I bent down to plug them, a gust of wind dropped them on the ground! They got damaged, but fortunately, the sound was working well. Action - reaction! I asked Jules to grab the duck tape in the car boot, and we started to fix everything on the table with the tape (the speakers, laptop, keyboard,…)
II The almost lost video maker and drone
The installation took 45 minutes instead of 15, so it was about time to start shooting to catch the sunrise. Ben grabbed his camera, and we started the first take. We did 3 min of shooting when suddenly, the music stopped! My laptop shut because of another gust of wind… “Ok, that's fine. We have 3 minutes of shooting, so let’s grab the drone and do a 15 min of drone shooting while the sun is still rising!” Ben started his drone, and I launched my music set again.
The lights and the view were amazing! It was an incredible experience to play on the top of a lava dome with the sun rising to the sky. I was freezing to my bones, but I didn’t care because I was enjoying the moment so much and knew the takes with the landscape would be bloody amazing. I was 7 minutes to my set when Jules interrupted me to tell me that Ben had lost the drone! Jules told me: “I don’t know where Ben is! He lost control of the drone because of the wind, and the battery got frozen!” I couldn’t believe him. I thought it was a bad joke. I asked where Ben was, and Jules replied: “I don’t know! I saw him running after his drone, trying to gain control of it! I hope he didn’t fall by the cliff while running after it because he was looking at his iPad instead of where he was running!”
At that moment, I thought the shooting was over. I was praying that nothing happened to Ben. We looked for him everywhere, but couldn’t find him. I got back to the set 20 min later to pack everything and was ready to call the emergency services. But out of nowhere - Ben appeared in front of us (but without the drone)!!! Jules and I were so happy and relieved to see that he was alive !
III Action - reaction!
Ben was determined to find his drone and used an app to track its location. In the meantime, the sun was up, and I knew we’d missed the sunrise. 25 minutes later, I saw Ben coming back from the bottom of the mountains with the drone in his hands! Its battery was dead, and one drone propeller was damaged. But he had everything in the car to replace it. He asked me if it was a good idea to start the video shooting again even if the sun had already risen or if we should postpone it and come back for the sunset. With no hesitation, I told him: “No, let’s do it now! We’ve just faced all these crazy things, so let’s do it now!” Ben changed the battery and propeller, and I launched the set again. This time it was already 7.45 am, I was freezing to death, but I was determined to do it. We did the shooting with the camera and drone, and everything was finished half an hour later!
As you can imagine, we were all cold and tired, feeling all kinds of emotions. In the end, we were happy to be alive, proud of powering through all the obstacles and completing the set for the Euphoria EP.
4 takeaways for your video shooting
- Bring duck tapes & bricks: the first thing that saved our set was that we brought fixing supplies in case things went wrong (which they did). These were our lifesavers to our equipment (neon lights, speakers, etc.) A strong wind can ruin everything, so none of the video shooting would be possible without having these two simple things.
- Bring some spare equipment: in our case, we used a second drone battery and a second drone propeller. Ben and I would definitely recommend doubling up on the vital parts of your video shooting equipment to avoid interruptions and rescheduling.
- Choose the right people: a successful video set in this kind of condition wouldn't be possible without having passionate and dedicated people to help you. Ben, Jules, and I - the only 3 guys that stood against the weather! We stuck together in every situation, as you saw. I think we can all agree that many video makers would throw the towel in the ring and postpone the shooting to another day. That would take a load of time to reschedule and cost additional money for the material I rented for that specific day. But Ben was passionate about making this video a success no matter what was happening. Also, Jules’ support in organising and coordinating the set was priceless. The video set for my Euphoria EP wouldn’t exist without the resilient team.
- Stay strong: last but not least, my advice is DON'T GIVE UP and try to adapt to every situation. Even when you think things are getting impossible, there is always a solution, even though you might think that everything is doomed.
If you experienced a similar thing during shooting make sure you share it with the community !