The wildly popular Rockford rock band, Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts, premiered their new video for the song “Heavy Metal” on May 25, 2016.
The video was directed by Rock Valley College Mass Com student Melissa Revels. We caught up with Melissa to talk about her experience.
How did this project come about?
Timing worked in our favor. The band needed a music video because they were releasing a new album and I needed a music video for [my advanced video class at RVC]. Miles approached me about collaborating and he really liked my idea for “Heavy Metal” so we decided to go ahead with the project.
Did you have any previous connection to Miles Nielsen or any of the band members that led to this opportunity?
We’ve been friends for several years now. I was the lead in a film with one of our mutual friends and that’s how I met the guys. I also did “merch” for them a few years back when they were on tour. We just got back from an 11 day tour starting in Saint Louis and ending in Louisville. I’m shooting a few things for them including a Behind The Scenes doc-style video. They’re unique guys and I think people will like seeing who they are off stage.
Talk about the video shoot and how it was to work with the band.
The band is Miles Nielsen, Jeff Werckle (drummer), “The Dark Lord” Adam Plamann (flutter), “Fast” Dave McClellan (bassist), Daniel James McMahon (guitar) and then we have Bill “Skicat” Olson the roadie who is featured in the video as well. All of these guys are so easy to work with. They didn’t need much direction because they’re naturally just great on camera. Like the drummer, Jeff Werckle. We put a fan on him during the shoot and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I made. He has fantastic hair. Since we shot for black and white every shot needed to be well lit for it to work. So while Sean Tyler (another RVC alum who gaffed on set) set up lights and I set up my shots, the band would jam and learn new songs. It was a very repetitive process having to play the same song over and over but we made it fun in between takes.
Is directing music videos something you see in your future? If so, who are some artists you would love to work with?
I have a few more ideas I’m working on so yes, I do see myself directing/shooting more music videos in the future. As far as musicians that I’d like to work with, I’d love to work with Father John Misty. I tend to lean towards darker humor, sarcasm and honesty and most of his music fits that description. For instance, his video for his song “I Love You, Honeybear” features two paramedics getting wasted then having to respond to a call to save a couple. They end up only saving one and go home depressed but they have each other. It’s an incredibly pretty song in contrast to the video and I really like that kind of thing. Or whatever.
What are some things you learned by working on this project?
I’m big on planning. The more pre-production you do, the easier the shoots will be. We shot over the course of two days in downtown Rockford. A buddy of Miles’ owned a building and let us have free reign of the place for two days which is incredibly useful when you’re working with smaller crews and don’t have to load out/in every day. Feeding people on set is important. Especially when they are working for free. It’s something I learned being a talent on other productions but shooting tends to mean long hours and it’s important to have snacks on set to feed cast/crew so they don’t get moody. The Snickers commercials are on to something.
How did your training and education with RVC Mass Com prepare you for this?
Most of what I know of video and audio production I learned from the projects I’ve had to do through the Mass Communication program at Rock Valley. I learned I really like shooting and directing from taking the MoPic course last summer and that air conditioners are the devil. I also discovered that I enjoy shooting documentaries from taking COM 296 Documentary Production with Paul Stalter. The Mass Com teachers are pretty great and I think I’ve been spoiled a bit because when I take classes outside of the Mass Com department I realize just how unique the department and even the industry is. Like Jerry LaBuy, Kevin Cagnolattiand, Paul Stalter, in particular. Everyone tends to be chill and easy to respect and I feel like they make me want to work harder and learn more. Which is probably why I got a 4.0 last semester (shameless brag). I cared what they thought about my projects. Now if the school will just offer the associates in mass communication, I’ll be set.