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Tips for Directing Music Videos – by Bob Gallagher

Bob Gallagher

Bob Gallagher is an Irish director and cinematographer who has worked on a number of short film and music videos. Here he shares his tips for directing music videos.

Work with artists you like

It’s probably obvious to say, but if you have a natural affinity for someone’s music and you respect what they’re doing it will likely yield good results. It’s the kind of relationship where you each need to compliment what the other is doing. In a good video the combination of the music and visuals complement each other in such a way as to create something better and more interesting than the sum of its parts.
 

Collaboration

Collaboration with the band or artist is also really important. Ultimately the video is to represent them how they want to be represented and to help them promote their music in a way that fits their style and aesthetic. I think any good music artist will have a good grasp of how they’d like to be perceived and part of the job is accommodating that.
 

Balance

It’s good to challenge the artist too and see how you can play with someone’s image or aesthetic, but ultimately you do have to be respectful of how you are representing their work.
 

Tone

Let the idea come from the song itself rather than imposing yourself or your own pre-existing ideas on a song. Again, that comes back to respecting the music of the person you’re collaborating with. It needn’t be a direct literal interpretation of the song’s lyrics or meaning, often it’s better when the visual has a very abstract relationship to the song. It’s more important to match up the tone of the visual to the tone of the song to make it congruous. The song and the video can communicate different ideas but with a singular tone that unifies everything.

Music video for Easter Morning by Myles Manley and the Little People, from the Album Rocknroll Vicar/ Rocknroll Priest, directed by Bob Gallagher and Produced by Tony Flynn

Music video for Live from the Elaine Mai's Dots E.P, directed by Bob Gallagher

Music Video for Gilgamesh by Tramp Artists (Lewis Lazar & Simba) from the Gilgamesh E.P., Directed by Bob Gallagher