Actually the request from the management of the Jamaican R’n’B / Dancehall band Voicemail was quite simple: “Can you shoot a music video in Jamaica or do you only work in Germany?” Frank Roller, Jonas Herzog (both former SAE students) and Dennis Nagy, who met during their studies and went into business for themselves, didn’t see any difference to previous projects – in the end it was an entirely new production experience for the young team.
Text: Frank Roller & Chris Merz; Photos: EFFER Media und Dejo-Media
As a low budget production, they agreed on a crew consisting of only three people. Their equipment, a DSLR ready-to-shoot package consisting of camera, rig, Matte box, tripod and monitor flew with them from Germany to Jamaica. Everything else should be arranged locally.
For the three graduates, who were on the lookout for such opportunities, the project was a completely new challenge. Such things as customs clearance for the equipment were tasks they didn’t have to face at this stage. Everything had to be done at high speed because the time between ordering and departure was only a few days. The song is called ‘Tonight’ and a story had to be told, showing people partying on various locations in Kingston. They kept open, exactly which locations would be used, since no location scouts were available. The plan was simple: The idea of the story was clear, the rest had to be set on the way to Jamaica or even improvised.
On the train to the plane the management of Voicemail came up with the question, is it possible to shoot a second music video titled ‘My Money’? The number of shooting days will remain the same, the material to shoot doubled. It quickly became clear that this effort must be placed into post-production where there were no specific deadlines.
For the video ‘My Money’ only one day of shooting was available. The filmmakers opted for a kind of ‘making of’ video that shows the band songwriting, recording in the studio and about the sale of CDs. To give it a more creative flavour they decided to incorporate motion graphics or animations. The idea that the musicians sing in a dollar-bill seemed impossible, since no one had packed a green screen let alone lights.
Once in Jamaica, first the band had to be convinced by the proposals. Details were discussed with them and locations were visited. The country and people surprised the three Germans again and again. For a party scene in the ghetto of Kingston – special approvals, roadblocks, security, etc., would be needed.
It’s not possible in this short time – the film crew thought. Somehow, it was always possible to implement the ideas of the filmmakers. They had an idea – the guys from Voicemail pulled out their cell phones and made it possible through their contacts. Even a scene with huge speaker towers, flame-throwers and people dancing in the street, was cordoned off by police. So the dollar-bill idea was palpable again because a green screen studio was located.
The video production was therefore a mixture of location scouting with the guys from Voicemail, storyboarding for breakfast and long, improvised shooting days, running late into the night.
The equipment was suddenly enlarged by a crane, lighting and other things that made it possible for far more spectacular scenes. Otherwise, the scenes were shot mainly with available light. Thanks to the high-aperture objective very good shots could be done and were subjected to only minimal colour correction. Light and colours in Jamaica helped the crew to create a visually handsome video.
On the topic of extras, the crew had to rely on help from the band again. And they were not disappointed. Voicemail is such a favourite band in Jamaica that almost everyone was willing to support the production in any way possible.
The Jamaicans motto “no problem” is not just a cliché but a fact. What normally has to be requested mostly working days in advance and must be approved in Germany, gets done very spontaneously and easily in Jamaica.
During the post-production in Germany amazing events happened. The songs were being partially rearranged and completed after the filming programme. But then, what really delayed the whole production, was when one of the three band members was shot in front of his home. The release dates then moved into the unknown distance. Nobody knew if all the work was no longer of use and even if the band would continue any further. But then the other two members, Kevin and Craig, went on a European tour featuring singer/songwriter ‘Alaine’ a few months later.
The work of the three German guys in Jamaica must have left an impression. During ‘Voicemail’s stay in Germany they shot a third video for the single ‘Wrong Number’ – this time under normal conditions of a planned production, that was finished and released in 2012.
About the production team and some project facts
Co-production between EFFER Media (Frank Roller) and Dejo-Media (Jonas Herzog, Dennis Nagy). Media Agency for moving pictures in Herrenberg and Tuttlingen (Germany). Video/Film, 2D/3D-Animation, digital interactive
Jonas Herzog and Frank Roller studied together at SAE Institute Stuttgart and Munich until 2010. During their studies they founded two companies, which worked together as a successful co-production. Their portfolio consists of commercials, industrial and corporate movies, music videos and 2D/3D-visualisation and animation. They are always looking for motivated artists in all special fields.
Music videos: ‘Tonight’, ‘My Money’ (not released yet) ‘Wrong Number (featuring Alaine)’ (shot in Munich, Germany, watch it on youtube)
More info, pics and videos and release-updates: