Artist Claudia Georgette and director Ricky Lloyd George talk about the joys and perils of making a music video. With sheer determination – and some baby oil – you can create mini-movie magic.
By Charlotte Mountford
he music video created for performing artist Claudia Georgette’s song Signet Ring has finally been launched, and the singer is thrilled with the finished product. Georgette has just flown in from performing at a festival in Scotland, “and I am completely exhausted” she warns Tea Time – “I hope I’m making sense!” Making the video was no less tiring: “it took months of planning and a whole weekend to shoot, it was such hard work,” she explains, “but I’m so happy with how it’s looking now.”
Georgette hails from London where she performs live in concert while working on her upcoming album, of which Signet Ring is a key track. She released an EP a few years ago called Solenca with a flamenco funk group by the same name, and an album The Naked Elephant. This upcoming album will be Georgette’s first as a solo artist. Singing has always been her passion. When asked why she got into music she retorts “for fun.”
The Signet Ring music video is creative, colorful, full of beautiful youths, and above all very funny. It tells a loose story: a group of friends arrive at a pal’s house in the country and proceed to party the weekend away – in ridiculous fashion.
Inventive costumes abound, mostly designed and made by Georgette herself: neon ruffs, flower power headdresses, raving gear, and even an Elizabethan wig, expertly constructed by hair and makeup. During the filming of the video, there were long-legged girls dancing in churches while well-honed male torsos, lathered in baby oil, gyrate in the rave scene. In this video, there’s something for everyone.
“It’s all supposed to be very tongue in cheek in the video,” says Georgette. “The song Signet Ring is equally supposed to be ironic, but because it’s so wordy I worry that the message gets lost. Therefore we needed something bold and over the top in the video to compensate. It means you don’t have to listen to the song so hard anymore to understand what’s going on!”
Planning the shoot was a massive operation, involving multiple cast and crew, choreography, costumes, and the sheer logistics of getting everyone to the country house location in Derbyshire. “Just working out how to feed people was so stressful, and I am too much of a control freak,” she admits. “I wanted to do everything myself, and took on too much, which took away from creative stuff. I basically forgot I had to perform in it myself!” she laughs, “and I had this horrible moment the week before we started filming, when I realised I hadn’t even choreographed the chorus dance.”
Ideally Georgette would have hired an entire production team to carry out these tasks but because of their slim budget she and director Ricky Lloyd George could only pay key crew members, and had to produce the video themselves.
“Friends helped, but when you’re not paying people you can’t be too bossy,” explains Lloyd George. “The result was loads of our close mates running around this country house on the weekend of the shoot, trying to make it work. I was slightly in despair at first,” he confesses, “I am used to professional low-budget crews in L.A. But everyone tried so hard … it contributed to the fun, laid-back atmosphere in the video.”
“I was incredibly nervous before hand” says Georgette. “I’m used to singing on stage but this was my first video. I had to perform looking right into the camera – very strange. It had rapidly grown into this huge project and suddenly I was responsible for all these people, all there, all watching me. But once we started shooting my nerves melted and it came naturally – thank God – I saw we were all in it together, not just me.”
So did anything go horribly wrong on the day? “There was this one scene where we were supposed to all be dancing on these steps,” says Georgette, “but they were too narrow. We didn’t fit! In the end we had to be tough and let the scene go.”
“The scene on the steps,” agrees Lloyd George, “we shot it last, everyone was exhausted, the light was difficult and we rushed it. This means for the second chorus in the video we have to return to the dance sequence in the church, when I wanted something new for each chorus and verse. But the church scene has proved popular with viewers, and returning provides a sort of anchor in the video, so it has worked out in the end.”
“That was an ongoing theme really,” Lloyd George goes on, “anything that didn’t work out, we found a better solution. We were supposed to have our leading man Paddy Loughman going off in a boat in the last scene for example, not realizing the lake was miles away and the boat was broken and might have sunk! So we ended up with this lovely bit with the champagne fight; a perfect ending I think, the group together, relaxed. It was hard to go wrong with my excellent Director of Photography Adrian Brown on board anyhow.”
For Georgette the best thing about the shoot was her cast. “They were wonderful, so professional and creative. There was one moment when I walked onto set for the decadent dinner party scene; the set was exactly how I had imagined it in my head, and the cast were all sitting round, improvising. I got goose bumps: this little idea I had spent months planning had come to life.”
“I only met the actors once before the shoot,” L.A.-based Lloyd George explains, saying he wished he had had more time with the actors before filming the video. “We could have designed more character-based stuff around them. They are all a talented lot, and again not what I expected. Loughman played his character nerdy when I’d imagined it raucous, but it was way funnier his way.”
Lloyd George talks of the post-production process, now complete: “It’s been fun to cut, it’s a looser style of editing than a traditional narrative short film; there’s less structure so you can be more creative. I would definitely direct and edit a music video again.”
“The video has definitely enhanced the song Signet Ring, given it a life of its own,” adds Georgette. “You can now see the video on YouTube, and we’ll do several online promotions, for example if you watch the video on MySpace you can download the song for free. We want to bring it back to the music – that’s the main aim here.”