Odds Blog: the unimaginable future….
Posted by indigodream on 10 March, 2013
Sunday 10th March
With the big 5-0 looming, I’ve been musing on the things that I will do, the things that I can imagine doing and the mysterious unimaginable future…
Well, I had an unimaginable experience today……as part of a choir taking making a pop video!
Because of restrictions laid on us by the organisers, I can only tell you that we were filming in a big venue in London, with a male singer, with a choir that shall be nameless – I can reveal more when the video is eventually released
I wasn’t expecting to be taking part in a pop video today – my friend Roma, who sings with a large modern choir, emailed me LAST NIGHT to say that they were short of singers to take part in this video shoot today. I immediately said I’d help out – ok, so I prefer classical music, don’t really do pop and didn’t know the song – but really, how often do you get opportunities like this?
Roma kindly picked me up from Clapham Junction this morning so that we could drive to the venue together – this meant that I could actually hear the chorus that we’d be singing. Luckily I have a good ear for music and it seemed pretty straightforward – phew! The pressure was also taken off when I realised that although we would be singing today, it wouldn’t be our voices on the final track – that’s been recorded elsewhere (probably in the US) with another choir! If I was them I’d be peeved that another choir had stolen their voices for the UK release
We arrived early and at 10am the conductor gave us a good rehearsal with the track – I had no problem with the tune, but knowing when to come in was more of a challenge. However I needn’t have worried – by the end of the day we must have done over 100 “takes” – even the most tone deaf would have worked it out by then
When the film crew were ready, we were led to the set – a vast room of cathedral proportions (but not a cathedral), filled with artificial smoke, giving everything a flattering soft focus. As well as a small orchestra, there were 100 singers in the choir, arrayed on stepped staging, meaning that we were all very visible! I’m not shy when performing, but I was a bit worried by the obligatory swaying – it’s banned in the choir that I run – our motto is “choirs do it with their voices”! But once again, with over 100 takes even I got the hang of singing and moving at the same time!
The set lights were astoundingly bright and we were surrounded by an array of cameras and a legion of technical people – it’s a relatively simple video but I dread to think what it cost….
We had a few takes before the star arrived. He was very charming and treated the choir with respect and good humour – this was a great relief. Being something of a diva myself, I wouldn’t have enjoyed working with a proper one! We found it a bit wearing to stand for hours on end, but the star had to walk the length of the vast hall (around 300 feet each way apparently), miming his heartfelt emotions one way then marching back to his starting ‘mark’ for the next take. I was a bit surprised that they hadn’t got him a golf buggy!
The first session lasted until 2pm – it was, by degrees, interesting, repetitive, tedious and exciting – but by the end of it we were hungry and very cold – being so vast, the set hadn’t really warmed up by the time we went to lunch. There was a certain amount of consternation, because although some singers had brought extra layers, they couldn’t wear them in the afternoon – we all had to be exactly the same for continuity!
We had been warned that there would be a certain amount of hanging around, so lunch stretched from the 30 minutes we were expecting to just over the 2 hours, which was very boring, though we all welcomed a chance to eat and get warm.
Then we were led back into the set – this time to do the close-ups – this took another two and a half hours! However, we were entertained by the star, who came to talk to the choir, and by the interesting process. The frequent takes were not because of our poor performance, but rather because of technical nit-picking over camera angles and lighting. The trouble is, the floor crew gave us very little feedback other than “one more time” which was frequently repeated. I lost track of the number of takes, but by 6.20pm I was losing the will to live! However, this may have made us a little more free in our performance – certainly the floor manager eventually told us that we looked “really awesome” before saying the magic words “that’s a wrap”, which got the biggest cheer of the day
There followed an obligatory photo shoot with the star and we were away – it felt like a long day, though the floor manager assured us that much longer days were not unusual – all for a 3.5 minute pop video!
I don’t know how many of the choir will be recognisable in the final video. We were unpaid volunteers, though they did give us £10 travel expenses – which yielded me a £1.20 profit! Now I wouldn’t normally get out of bed for £1.20 so, would I do it again? To be honest, I’m not sure – I enjoyed the experience immensely, but I’m not so star-struck as to like working for nothing, unless a charity can benefit in some way