Behind the Scenes: Your Own Name

It takes a lot of work to perfect a music video. In fact, I still don’t have the knowledge needed to tell you everything there is to know. However, as someone who has shot and starred in multiple of my own pieces, I can give you tips on what I do know.

My favorite video I’ve done so far is also for my favorite song I have, “Your own name.” The concept of this video is to show that I’ve been rapping since a very tender age, and I’ve grown bitter after years with no return. It depicts a younger me, played by my little sister Delani, writing lyrics (and sometimes getting distracted, drawing, or falling asleep). The words tell it all: I’m done being patient, and I’m ready to create my own path even if the world isn’t planning to help.

I chose a few frames of this video to give you some behind the scenes comments, and tips on creating your own video like this. I’m so pleased with how well these shots turned out, and how deep they were able to show my true emotions in the music industry. Unfortunately, the message is clear. Many people will tell you that they support you, but only a few actually do. Even with this, it’s important to never give up. If the world needs you to prove it, prove it.

I recorded this video in a vacant house my older sister owns. This desk was actually used for an office when my sister sold RVs. With that being said, the desk was originally in the main entrance way. In order to get the desk into the bedroom, we had to take off the door frame and turn it in awkward directions. I don’t think my sister has ever tried getting it out.

The purpose of this location was to show seclusion. I wanted the feeling that I was all alone, trapped in my head like a tortured artist. If you’re looking for the feeling of seclusion in your video, you could shoot in the following places:

  • A woodland or forest

  • An abandoned building

  • An alleyway in a small town

  • A backroad 

  • Or, of course, a vacant house

Although, I know most people don’t have the luxury of a vacant house to film in. Luckily for you, music videos are all about illusions. The majority of this video was shot in one room, with scenes in a bathroom and hallway. You could make you own house fit this description if this is the image you’re trying to capture. Empty out a room and get to work. It sounds like a hassle, but it makes for great shots.

This was not an easy scene to shoot. The fire spread rapidly and was at my hand in seconds, and I had to act calm even with the possibility of being burned. I also had to make sure to not burn down the house, so I turned on the water and dipped the paper in as soon as the director yelled “cut!”

Special effects are awesome, but you have to be brave enough to act them out. Although the editor might be able to tweak scenes a bit, you have to do some crazy things to create effects like this one. You also have to be prepared to shoot them a few times.

Getting a child to act isn’t always easy, but my little sister was, surprisingly, extremely professional. This scene depicts that although lyrics have been my forte, I started very young, so my mind wandered and got distracted. When shooting a video like this, you have to remember to focus on the smallest details. Videos are interpreted completely by the viewer, and the details are what make the people who are watching think. Sometimes, what they think isn’t necessarily what you want them to think, but you have the power to steer it the best you can.

I know scenes like these have been done a ton of times. Rappers depicting their younger self isn’t new, but I felt that using my little sister in this video was special. I looked just like her as a child, so this whole concept really made sense to us. Showing her writing in this scene proves that I was stuck in this vacant room as carefree kid, and I’m still stuck today.

The fog machine was my favorite effect in the video. It’s the simplest thing, but it added so much to the finished project. To me, it symbolizes power. Even though I’m speaking about being fed up with the music industry, the smoke shows that I’m still on fire regardless. It means that I know my truth.

In this part of the video, I’m surrounded by wads of paper with lyrics. If you’re trying to show the same frustration as I did, you can also:

  • Throw a (cheap) laptop

  • Slam down headphones

  • Stress out in a recording studio

  • Drink while writing

Honestly, showing frustrating while writing lyrics is easy. If you write yourself, I’m sure you’ve felt this frustration first hand. Just show the camera exactly how you feel, and the crowd will appreciate it.

The video ends with my younger self falling asleep. Without saying it, it’s common sense that I’m probably dreaming about the fame. Fast forward to my older self, and it’s apparent that the fame wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. If you noticed, my younger self looks much more confident and happy, whereas my older self is angry.

It’s strange to rap the same song over and over for a video. It gets repetitive, and you may get annoyed. You know your producers, and you make jokes behind the scenes. The energy is fun loving and not so serious. Even with all this, you have to remember to show your emotion in every word your spitting when the camera is rolling. You have to channel the energy you had when you wrote the song. You’re an authentic person, and you want your fans to know it. 

When making a video, it’s important to overreact. React in a way that you would normally never do. It looks a lot more mellow on camera, and it brings out your emotions much more. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to look mad, be mad. The best way to sell your emotions is to actually feel them.

If you want to check out the video behind this post, I have posted it below.


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