Lighting and shooting Slash’s music video. A look behind the scenes.
The “LEDZ” lights & Slash’s “Gotten” music video
Recently I had the opportunity to DP a music video for the legendary guitar hero Slash. The music video was for a song that was a collaboration with Adam Levine (Maroon 5) called “Gotten”.
The project is intended to benefit Slash’s longtime charity “LA Youth Network” therefore the budget was very small. The cast and crew donated thier time and we were lucky enough that the vendors came onboard and donated some key equipment. The camera (ARRI AlexaPlus) and slider (Panther Ubangi) came from Camadeus Film Technologies, the lenses (Zeiss Master Primes) came from Radiant Images, I donated my steadicam and Cmotion Cvolution lens Controler. Finally CineMills saved the day and donated the use of thier brand new LED lights the “LEDZ”.(Superspot, Brute 9). So first and foremost I want to personally thank the sponsors. Right after reading the treatment for the first time I realized there would be no money to close streets, condors or 18k’s. While there is a portion of the video that occurs indoors the majority of the video was to be shot at night in downtown LA with limited permits and locations.
Due to the aforementioned lack of budget, I immediately realized I needed small, powerful, battery operated LED lights. A few with broad coverage and one with more punch. We also had a few car interiors to light so a small led would also be great. Immediately I thought of Litepanels as I had used them before. Unfortunately the one place I could rent them from didn’t have them in on the dates I needed it. Then I thought of CineMills line of led lights “LEDZ”. I had seen them on my facebook since I was friends with them. I checked out their website and took a look at their line of led lights and got excited! I contacted Carlos de Matos(owner) and arranged a visit to their Burbank factory and headquarters. Carlos and Mike welcomed me and walked me through their product line and were incredibly friendly and helpful. Thankfully were gracious enough to let me try out a couple their lights for the weekend on my shoot. They provided me with 2 lights.
First was their brand punchy new “Superspot”. It is the first in Led lighting as it provides a sharp, powerful circular beam, a throw that easily exceeds 40 feet, the SUPERSPOT is comparable to current 575w HMI fixtures, including the 5500k color temperature whilst only drawing a single amp. It is extremely robust with an all aluminum housing and yoke system with junior mounting pin. It has a slim profile so can be used in a multiple of lighting setups utilizing minimal space. The fixture produces no sound and very minimal heat, making it friendly in tight spaces. There are two built in dimmers on the fixture which allow for 100% – 0 output control with minimal color shift. It comes complete with a switchable power supply unit. There are additional accessories available including the LEDZ Speedframe, Chimera, filter frame, DMX capabilities and 12v battery options for mobile applications.
It has a double Anton Bauer gold battery mount which provided power for many hours on set. In addition we had the optional “Chimera” softbox option. Which I used alot in some of the interior scenes.
The second light was the small but surprisingly powerful “Brute 9”.
The Brute 9 provides an extremely bright, spread beam and comes with a Gel frame. The BRUTE 9 is a modular system and can be set up as a duo fixture with a conversion kit. It incorporates an on board dimmer for full intensity control. It equivalent to 200w HMI. It has a single Anton Bauer gold battery mount which provided power for us all night on a single dionic90!! For the night exterior scenes we mounted it on a gobo arm, slid a gel in it and mounted the battery. I would have an assistant simply hold this light in place during the scenes. In addition I would frequently diffuse it further as well.
Here it a close up of our workhorse for this project. You can also see the dimmer knob in this picture.
I would of loved to have one more but I was more than happy to get what I did. The rest of my lighting package consisted of a Kino “DIVA” …..and that’s it ! Even then to my surprise I only used the Kino in one scene. It honestly did surprise me how much I was able to accomplish with just these 2 lights and……..lets give credit where credit is due, also thanks in large part to the amazing ARRI Alexa and the beautiful Master Prime lenses. I think the best way for me to share how crucial the LEDZ lights were to our project is to just show a few of the frame grabs off the Alexa footage and a few behind the scenes of the same images. I managed to snap a few production and my friend and photographer Myron Parran also was on hand to take some key stills of the project. Lets highlight some of the lighting setups and their results.
Opening Scene – Slash Poster Closeup
I used the BRUTE 9 behind Slash with no diffusion to edge him and separate him from the background. It also illuminated the poster so it could be reflected in his Aviator RayBans.
Here is the result
Scene 1 – Living room
Slow push in on our lead actress and her birthday cake. The SUPERSPOT with a chimera was overhead above and to the left in the kitchen and way our key light for the parents in the background. I had the BRUTE 9 next to the camera dimmed down to provide our main key light on our actress. To augment the candle flicker we added 5 votive type candles at the base of the cake out of frame. These additional candles remain unseen by the camera and gave us great warmth and candle flicker. You can see here the BRUTE 9 to the left of camera (before we added a gel) 1stAC Daniel Schade and 2ndAC/loader Jazz look on. You can also see the Panther Ubangi slider we used for the “push in”
Here is a frame grab from the ALEXA footage showing the results of this setup.
Same shot on a 75mm (was used in the video)
Later for the parents coverage of thier argument in the background I bounced the BRUTE 9 off the ceiling at full power which worked great.
There are 3 main scenes that occur in the same bathroom. While I changed a few things to differentiate the scenes the basic setup remained the same. You can see the SUPERSPOT w/ chimera softbox giving us our key, we wrapped overhead light with blackwrap and created a “skirt” to give me some warmth and also a uglier downlight during one of the scenes where the keylight is off.
I used the BRUTE9 this time gel with some 1/2 CTO and controlled it with some black wrap to serve as my edgelight on the actresses blond hair.
…..and here is results…..Some Alexa frame grabs of this scene.
Scene 3 Bedroom
I this scene I used the SUPERSPOT to give me my colder light coming from a hallway entering the room thru a open door. This is the light you see on her face. We positioned the actress with the light alomst splitting her face in half. This way the light from the hallway creating a shadow from the door frame. This was for 2 reasons. First was a indicative of the character duality and struggle and more importantly when the abusive boyfriend walks into frame his shadow then covers her face in darkness and his whiskey bottle enters frame. Warmth was added back into the scene by placing the BRUTE9 w/ CTO behind and to the left of the actress. This gave us our backlight and glow on her hair and was also bouncing off of the yellow wall behind camera providing us with her FILL light. Furthermore we placed a practical lamp in shot to motivate the backlight from the brute9.
For the reverse on this scene on the boyfriend, we hardly had to change anything. We had the SUPERSPOT in the hallway giving us our backlight and we just bouced some of that light onto his face. The intention was for him to be a bit colder in color temp than her so this worked perfectly.
Scene 3 Steadicam sidewalk
Finally, moving onto one of the many exterior night time scenes. We find ourselves with a moving steadicam shot tracking our actress in a profile shot as Judd Nelson tries to get her attention in the background. Unfortunately the location I scouted for the shot had to be changed due to safety. None the less we found a great spot nearby to our basecamp. We took our workhorse the BRUTE9 gelled and diffused and mounted it on a gobo arm. An assistant walked in front of me doing his best not to change the direction of light (too much). This setup worked incredibly well and after a few takes we moved on!
…and here is the Alexa frame grab and I was happy with the results.
Scene 4 Slash Playing on the 6th St. Bridge
The first night I scouted this location I imagined slash playing with the defocus lights of his city in the background. We were lucky enough that we were able to pull it off. As I’m not so sure our permit would of held up on this one.
I had the assistant position the BRUTE9 about 10ft. off to camera right. this gave us the exposure we needed on Slash to give him a bit of an edge and pull him out from the background a bit. Luckily his signature leather top hat and leather jacket helped by reflecting some of that light.
Scene 5 Runaway sleeping next to dumpster
Another great simple example of us moving around the Brute9 on our gobo arm keeping us very flexible. You can see in the picture below the diffusion we wrapped around the light to soften it a bit.
The result was a very natural looking composition. The light you see on on face is the brute9 and the more orange light seen on her jacket and background is the overhead sodium vapor street lights.
Scene 6 – Car Interiors
There were a few car interior shots. I just used one of the car’s dome lights and the Brute9 in the back seat. You can see in the shot of Judd Nelson below the light coming from the back of the car.
Scene 7 – Motel room.
I used the SUPERSPOT outside the window thru the blinds at full power to give us the raked shadows we see. Then used the BRUTE9 off to the right.
I used the Panther Ubangi to push in towards the actresses face over the bed.
here is the final frame in camera…
Scene 8 – Under the Bridge
The last scene I leave you with is probably one of my favorites of the shoot. We shot this underneath the 6th st. bridge in downtown LA. The Alexa and the master primes were able to pick up and incredible amount of available light (1000iso & F2.0) . So all I had to do was fill in the actors face with the Brute9 once again diffused.
Here it is….Our director making a cameo here as well….Clifton Collins Jr.
All in all, by the end of the shoot I came away very impressed with both lights. I ended up using the Brute9 a lot more than I though I would. For that reason I was surprised that the Anton Bauer Dionic90 that I was using lasted all night in downtown LA. The SuperSpot is not as focused as a Fresnel but a lot more focused than any LED that I have used and played a crucial roll on the shoot. Lights like these open up a whole range of possibilities to every level of production.
It’s time take this opportunity to thank Carlos and everyone over there at CineMills for providing me with what I needed to use this perfect opportunity to try out their lights in a real world situation. I’m now left trying to figure out how I can afford to buy a few! Last but not least I’d like to thank the amazing cast and crew of the video who all donated thier time in hope of creating something can might change a few peoples lives for the better.
Director – Clifton Collins Jr.
Cinematographer – Pedro Guimaraes
Producer – Slash
Executive Producers – Clifton Collins Jr. – Talbert Morton
Slash as Himself
Runaway/Daughter Amanda Milchalka “AJ”
Street Thug 1 Sevier Crespo
Street Pimp-Jacob Vargas
Runaway Street Worker – Megan Ozurovich
Mother- Kristin Bauer
Boyfriend- Jack Rubio
Teacher/John- Judd Nelson
Gun Dealer- Clifton Collins Jr.
Operator/steadicam Pedro Guimaraes
1st AC Daniel Schade
2nd AC Nick Lantz
Digital Loader Jaswinder “Jazz” Bedi
Stills Myron Parran
Editor Alex Kirkwood
Colorist James LaViola
Original Recording of Gotten produced and mixed by
Camera provided by
Camadeus Film Technologies
ARRI & PANTHER Rentals
Lenses provided by
Lights provided by
CineMills – LEDZ
Cvolution remote lens control provided by
Post Services Provided by
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and watch the finished video here.
LINK TO VIDEO
Link to Behind the scenes video
Donate today on Slash’s website and download the song!!!
enjoy some behind the scenes photos!
Photo Credits Myron Parran, Pedro G.