On Set With Burn So Bright
Putting it bluntly, when I heard that Burn So Bright were planning their first music video, I was pretty excited. I’d been an avid follower of the band since the early days – I had watched the band try and find their sound, and experiment with different musicians. I had even considered auditioning for the vacant singer role once, but was lacking time and energy. And talent. The band, consisting of guitarists Matt O’Neill and Shane Rawdon, bassist Danny Jenkins, drummer Elliott Grant and singer Millie Peters are beginning to carve out a reputation as one of the most interesting Alternative Rock bands in London right now.
It is this reputation that saw Kerrang! list them as one of their 5 Bands To Watch For 2014, and lead to them being the first band to have a lyric video played on Kerrang! TV.
I messaged Danny to ask him if I could have a quick chat about the video. “Yeah, alright,” he said. “Actually, you can be in it if you want.”
Not gonna turn that down. Who doesn’t want to be on TV?
The video that ended up being shot on December 20th was for Burn So Bright’s single, Sit In Silence. The song has been featured on XFM. and the video ended up becoming Kerrang! TV’s Video Of The Week. Making it was a lot of fun. But it wasn’t easy…
It’s the 19th of December, 10am, and Danny and Shane have been at the location of the video shoot for 3 hours shoveling hay. So much for glamour. The video is taking place at a barn in Hertfordshire. It’s a big enough location to accommodate large shots of the band performing, and the surrounding buildings are creepy enough in the dark to allow them to achieve the type of ambiance they want for the video. The only drawback? It really looks like a barn. Which is why Danny and Shane have had to stack all of the hay into one giant pile, out of shot, and out of mind. After another hour of hard work, the set is ready. The floor is clear and with a backdrop and some clever photography, the place is transformed into a creepy circus rather than an old farm house. Danny sits down to admire his hard work, while Shane searches for his pockets for his new phone. After a few minutes of searching, Danny rings it. Listening carefully, they can just about hear Shane’s ringtone, ringing out from within a 8ft pile of hay.
It’s the 20th December. The band have asked Lawrence Hardy (who’s directing credentials include videos for Young Guns and Don Broco) to direct, with assistance provided by Mikee Goodman of Sikth fame. I arrive at 1pm, with photographer Aaron “Crooks” Hindes, who has been asked to document the video shoot. Mikee, Lawrence and Danny are in the midst of a discussion, so I walk over and ask if they need a hand with anything.
“You don’t happen to know someone with a van, do you?” I’m asked. Sadly I don’t. It transpires that as part of the set, BSB have ordered two large fun house mirrors, which along with a selection of other mirrors provided by bandmates and friends, will form the part of the backdrop to many of the video’s scenes.
“Matt’s gone to pick up the mirrors, but they’re too big for his car.”
We spend the next hour and half searching for last minute van rentals on our phones, in the middle of a farm with no signal.
It’s now half 3 and finally the fun house mirror issue is sorted. The farm owner Alan has kindly offered to send his son to pick up the mirrors for the band in his van. Elliott arrives on the set and is immediately pushed into the van and told to help Alan’s son with the mirror. Lawrence and Mikee make adjustments to the set’s lighting, while Danny, Aaron and I are sent off to pick up a girl named Paris Andrea, who will be doing make-up for the video. Though the shooting doesn’t begin for another 4 hours, all the make-up must be done before 6 o’clock due to her other engagements.
Four o’clock now, and we’re back. Elliott still hasn’t returned from his quest, but Shane, Matt and Millie are now here. Things are starting to fall into place. In the back of Shane’s car are a collection of mirrors gathered from friends and relatives.
“I was driving down here, with about 8 mirrors in the back of my car,” he explains as we pull them out from the boot. “And I drove over a bump and heard a crunch. But it should be ok as long it’s not my mum’s old family mirror”
We pull out the last mirror, which now features a large crack down the middle. It is, of course, his mother’s old family mirror.
“Ah well. May as well smash it up in the video now.”
Getting near 5 now, and things are starting to take shape. Make up is nearly all done, and the other extras have arrived. The video, which channels the vibes from old 70’s horror films like Don’t Look Now, features 5 extras in total, including Hayley, the band’s manager, and Lily, a particularly brave three-year-old. Myself, and the other two extras have our faces painted to resemble eery circus-folk. It is at this point I realise that I haven’t shaved in 3 weeks, and am rocking a patchy beard that a 13 year old would be ashamed to display. Paris tells me it won’t be a problem, and my harlequin face paint is applied. With my moustache, I’m more Cesar Romero than Heath Ledger. While this is going on, Lawrence is shooting some individual band footage. We’re still waiting for Elliott to return with the fun house mirrors.
7 o’clock. The priority at the moment is to get the footage of Lily, the three-year-old, before it gets too late. I choose to stay away while this is being shot; I’m now fully kitted out in a bizarre jester outfit, and the last thing I want to do is traumatise a child. I kill the time by playing with a particularly excitable sheep-dog which has turned up on set. We name him Haystacks.
Elliott finally turns up with the two mirrors, and a group of us begin the task of moving them from the car to the set. The video cost around £1300 to make, but if we smash these mirrors that’s another £1000 on the bill. Not to mention seven years bad luck.
Nine o’clock now. Finally time for me and the extras to shine. One of them juggles and spins fire around his head. The other one unicycles in circles around Millie. My job is less impressive.
“Just move around and be weird.” Lawrence tells me.
I can do that.
It’s now midnight. I’ve been here now for almost 12 hours, Danny and the others, even longer. Filming continues at a brisk pace, but I’m discovering how much work goes into these videos if you want to get it looking just right. Lights are constantly adjusted, and lots of spare footage is shot. A great shot of Shane smashing his mother’s mirror up some more is ruined because Shane forgot he was wearing Nikes – this is a music video, not an advert. Elliott risks freezing to death by insisting on drumming in a vest. Millie shows a strange talent for being able to fall asleep despite sitting up completely straight. Haystacks the dog keeps running into shot because Aaron and I decided to play fetch with him.
2am. Things are drawing to a close, but there is still a bit to do. Heavy rain has meant we’ve had to postpone a few outdoor shots and rush some equipment indoors to prevent it from being damaged. One thing you won’t notice in the video is how absolutely freezing it was at the farm. My jester’s outfit is certainly whimsical, but it doesn’t do much against the cold. The other extras have all left, but I choose to stay with the video to the very end. Partly due to my commitment to journalism, but also because I’d very much like a lift home.
3am. It’s a wrap. We’re done, but it’s not over. All of the footage we need has been shot, but there is one more tedious task left to do. Packing away all the equipment, including cameras, lights, drum kits, instruments, amps and over £1,000 worth of mirrors. I go home, go to sleep and go to Tesco the next morning, forgetting that I’m still made up to look like a Cirque du Soleil extra. At least I get to be on TV.
All photography is accredited to Aaron Hindes. If you’re interested in more of his work head to aaronhindes.co.uk