Here's 20 Can't-Miss Tips to make your early-90s Alternative video the BEST early-90s Alternative video!!! Or at least the early-90s Alternative video-est:
Show the band performing in a grand, classical-style opera theater, but there's one catch: This theater is KIND OF WEIRD. People will be like "Hm, stage, curtain, that all seems normal... ONE LADY WITH FISH HEAD, WHOAAA!!!" Yeaaaah, now we're cookin'.
Surround your band with three to seven wind machines and crank them up to full power. Then get a bunch of little pieces of stuff -- feathers, garbage, little pink puffballs, etc -- and have them blow around the band at all times. This will help create a distinct sense that it is windy.
You'd think any band would have their amps impeccably calibrated before shooting a music video, but nah -- have the band members constantly cranking up their amps mid-video because they want MORE VOLUME. Not enough volume yet? Keep crankin' it. If the shot of the amp is all shaky and blurry while you're crankin' it, all the better.
Fields are pretty cool -- there's like grass and flowers and shit, but they're even COOLER when the colors are all jarring and off. So just keep screwing with the Tint balance on the video and pretty soon your boring ol' "Windows Default Desktop" field will turn into an awesome hellish dreamscape of slightly-too-redness.
Have some tvs in your video, but make sure they're 1) Really old 60s-looking tv sets, possibly comprising a wall of tvs, and 2) Displaying nothing but static, or on special occasions, a closeup of a news anchor's mouth. Then it's cool and dystopian instead of uncool and the opposite of dystopian.
A lot of videos in the 80s showed the lead singer singing. That's all well and good, but why not take it to the next level and have your lead singer be like, 20% zombie-er? Paint em with some pale makeup and make them either a carnival emcee or a theater-usher you wouldn't trust. Now when you show shots of the lead singer singing the song, instead of being "literally what is happening," it's BADASS.
The rules of gravity probably apply as normal in this video, right? BZZZT! WRONG, Person Watching This! Now someone's friggin FLOATING in this video. They'll never see it coming.
If your song is on a motion picture soundtrack, make sure to throw some clips from that movie into your music video. They don't have to be noteworthy clips or synch up with the rest of the video in any way; the first 4-5 that you find are fine. The opening credits? The Production Company's logo? Sure, whatever, toss em in there. No one's keeping score.
Have you SEEN these "Green Screens"? They're amazing! Put your band in front of one, and all the sudden they can be in the middle of a crazy storm, and everyone watching will be like "whoa, that band sure is really standing inside a storm!" But they won't actually be, and no one will be the wiser!
Why even FILM a friggin music video if every shot isn't super curved and oblong and the lead singer isn't singing 80% of the lyrics while wrapping around the camera lens in an impossible three-quarters fashion? If that doesn't sound cool to you, then feel free to go hold your camera steady with a stupid regular lens and stand at a proper distance from what you're shooting, POINDEXTER.
There should be a crowd watching the band, but not their actual fans at actual concerts (that's lame 80s crap). Instead, make it a crowd of old opera patrons clapping very politely, or alternately, a group of weird, expressionless supermodels with futuristic makeup. There is nothing less cool than showing your band being enjoyed by actual, live fans of them.
After you shoot the video, go back and make 1/3rd of the shots Black & White. Doesn't matter which ones. Black & White is cool and old, and it's like, more meaningful than color sometimes, y'know? Then take the colors you saved from that 1/3rd of the video and spread them out over the rest of the video so it's way too colorful. Now we're gettin' somewhere!
Your target audience of 14-year-olds in the early 90s will be vaguely aware that movies used to be played on old projectors that made cool projector-y noises and the film would be really choppy and have lines on it and sometimes burn, so like, have your music video do that from time to time and everyone will be like "how movies used to be! Coooool."
Did you know if you run around while holding a camera, it's all frantic and feels like the person WATCHING it is running? Make sure this happens at some point in your video. Where's the person running and why? Somewhere cool. Doesn't matter. It's just a super kickass thing that no one will ever get tired of.
Is your video still feeling a little too straightforward and easy to watch? Take a few shots and invert the living crap outta those colors! Now it'll look like cautionary ad about these dancing girls dying in a drunk driving accident, and that's rockin'.
RELATED TIP: Have a light shine over the whole band and blow everything out:
They're pretty cool, toss some of them in. [IMPORTANT: Spiders are technically 'arachnids' but will work just as well from a music video improvement standpoint]
The most badass KIND of -mation!
Stock footage is cool. City skylines, shuttle launches, industrial factory workers making stuff, you name it. Just adds a little extra cherry on top of your delicious "didn't have enough locations to cut between" sundae.
They won't know what's going on, just that whatever it is is probably cool.
This is an actual shot from the Gin Blossoms' "Hey Jealousy" video. The bar is low, people. Just point your camera at whatever and start shooting. Good luck!
(GIFs by Chris Han)