Well, Tuesday night was an interesting experience. Bell had approached the NAC a few weeks ago about getting the orchestra to record the song “Believe” with Suzie McNeil and film a video. The project is designed to get Canadians involved in supporting Canadian athletes leading up to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
For those who don’t follow popular culture, Suzie McNeil came to prominence a couple of summers ago when she participated in Rock Star: INXS, a reality show on CBS that featured singers auditioning to become the new lead singer of INXS. B and I were big fans of the show, and Suzie was an audience favourite (although the job eventually went to another Canadian, J.D. Fortune).
After a few weeks of planning with Bell, the director, and the arranger, we were primed and ready to make a rock video on Tuesday night. We only had 4 hours, which isn’t a lot of time to record both English and French versions of the song. The orchestra was in place at 6:00 pm sharp, the stage was set, and we were all ready to go.
Or so I thought.
See, TV and film crews work a little differently. There seems to be a lot more “hurry up and wait” than I’m used to. There were a lot of people around – best boys, key grips, gaffers, etc. – but no conductor, no singer, and no real sense of urgency (aside from my nervous pacing backstage).
After 28 minutes of waiting around, the orchestra finally did the first run-through of the song. Four minutes later, it was time for a break. So, in the first 45 minutes of the session, we had done exactly one take.
Things did pick up after that, and it was pretty cool to watch. They had a camera on a crane that swooped in on Suzie at various angles. There was a big lighting rig at the back of the stage that would flood the hall in blinding light at various stages. After every take, a crew of hair, make-up and costume people would descend on Suzie to get her ready for her next close up.
Watching Suzie perform was an experience in itself. She was lip-synching, but she certainly threw herself into each performance. Even after four hours and about 15 run-throughs, she was still full of this infectious energy.
Inevitably, the last few minutes of the session were a mad rush to get the shoot finished. With seven minutes left, we agreed to do one more take, and then a camera battery failed. We ended up going four minutes into overtime, and believe me, some people made sure I knew about it.
I saw some of the playback after, and it really looked amazing. It’s funny what some simple lighting, a bit of movement, and some really expensive cameras can do. The actual video will be released sometime in the Fall, and the song will be available for download (you will also be able to get a copy as a ringtone).
If you want to see some behind the scenes footage, be sure to tune into CTV’s eTalk next week. They’ll be doing a segment on the video (along with segments on the next Canadian Idol cast-off, Ashlee Simpson’s plastic surgery nightmare, and Lindsay Lohan’s love triangle).