This post was written by Claudia Perez.

Creating a high-end music video is a dream for many artists and producers, but it can also be a nightmare when you consider the enormous cost involved. It's easy to become discouraged and think that high production value is only possible with a substantial budget, but that's not always the case although it certainly makes things easier.

In this blog post, we'll explore the techniques we used to create a high-end music video for only $4,000.

This was done primarily as a personal challenge and out of curiosity. We would suggest that you budget music videos carefully and charge accordingly, but this post may serve as inspiration for upcoming music video directors that want to prop up the visuals of their projects while on a shoestring budget in the hopes of improving their portfolios. 

Claudia_perez_bts_music_videoCredit: Courtesy of Claudia Perez

Our desire was to create the cinematic properties that viewers are accustomed to seeing in high-budget music videos. However, we knew that stretching ourselves too thin would not yield the results we were looking for. Our strategy was to opt for fewer, but better-produced scenes and locations. 

One of the most crucial aspects of creating a music video on a tight budget is selecting a story that can be executed with the resources within reach and keeping the viewer's attention with simple but effective elements such as humor.

To achieve this, we opted for a story that would feature picturesque characters and situations to gain and keep viewers' attention. We crafted our story and chose our location carefully, ensuring that each setting could give us multiple plot points, which would remove excessive travel expenses.

For example, we utilized the kitchen in the home location to fake our intro bar scene. We employed creative lighting and a green screen to create the illusion of the bar environment without actually having to shoot on location.

Claudia_perez_bts_music_video_2Utilized an at-home kitchen for a bar sceneCredit: Courtesy of Claudia Perez

For locations we called in some favors, and we ultimately only spent $400 on locations. We connected with a major player (in Miami nightlife) and a friend of a friend and he gave us access to his nightclub cabaret in exchange for a music video credit.

The trick in getting him to bite was coming into our meeting with enthusiasm and having him see the bigger picture “the potential” of just how many people would see this video and how the video being shot in his venue would add to the already strong branding he had created for his nightclub. We pulled another ace out of our sleeve when we got the mini-mansion location which would provide us with 65% of the music video location needs for only $400.

We got the home for one full day by reaching out to an old client, a high-ticket real estate agent, and asking him if he had any million-dollar home listings, and lucky for us he did. We really struck gold because our friend the realtor negotiated on our behalf with the homeowner. This was a significant win for us since we were able to use this location without breaking the bank.

Another technique we used was to invest in renting nimble but high-quality and budget-friendly cameras. We used the Nikon Z9 for our shoot, and it delivered excellent results. This camera is designed for professional use, and it has a full-frame sensor, 8K video capability, and excellent low-light performance, but the reason we chose the Nikon Z9 was that it gave us the cinematic properties we wanted and was more than capable of maintaining a locked-in auto-focus during shooting sequences allowing us to save on a focus puller for the day. 

Also, having a few compatible lenses handy gave it the edge over the Sony A1. It was the perfect choice for our project since it allowed us to capture high-quality footage without going over budget. 

Caludia_perez_bts_music_video_2Credit: Courtesy of Claudia Perez

We also did all the post-production work in-house. We had an experienced editor/colorist who worked tirelessly to bring the footage to life. This allowed us to keep costs down and maintain control over the creative process.

Lastly, we limited the production schedule to just two days. This helped us stay on track and allowed us to focus on getting the shots we needed without wasting time or resources.

In the end, creating a high-end music video on such a low budget was a challenging experience, but we were pleasantly surprised by the end result. We were able to produce a video that exceeded our expectations, and our client was thrilled with the outcome.

We learned that with careful planning, smart investments, and the right team, it's possible to create a high-end music video without breaking the bank.

We don't advocate or expect readers to go with this guerilla-producing method on all music video shoots but just know that being crafty is a good tool and mindset to have in film and video productions.

This post was written by Claudia Perez.