Ever wondered what really goes down during a music video shoot? We're sharing all the dirty little secrets -- with some help from the band American Authors, best known for their catchy, optimistic "Best Day Of My Life."
Last Sunday, American Authors filmed the upcoming video for their next single, "Luck." Here's the audio, since the video is still being cut:
We got to hang out on set and talk with the band about the video's concept, a story about a discouraged guy who finds hope by the end of the song.
"[The video shows] me as this character who's at the lowest point in his life," lead singer Zac Barnett told us. "I keep seeing these other, more positive visions of myself ... I'm going through the video in one mental state, seeing what I could become, or maybe where I have been, and then you know, it shows that life can change."
"It's such a personal and emotional song that really it's going to be [Zac's] performance that kind of sells it," drummer Matt Sanchez explained.
Here's Zac looking all broody for the character he plays in the video:
And it really is a performance, because there's more to a music video than meets the eyes. Every music video is different, of course, but here's how American Authors' "Luck" vid (harmlessly!) deceives you:
1. The Voice
What you think is happening: Zac is belting out those high notes.
What's actually happening: He's lip-syncing to a track that sounds like it was sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks.
You probably partly expected the singer to lip-sync the vocals, but the chipmunk part is definitely a surprise. The background track is sped up -- which gives it that chipmunk-y noise -- so that when the footage is slowed down, the singer's lip-syncing matches up to the real song's speed.
2. The Location
What you think is happening: Zac <3s gambling.
What's actually happening: That's a bar, not a casino.
The entire video was shot at Sandilly's S & W Saloon, a smokey roadside bar in Dickson, Tennessee, about an hour outside of Nashville. Sandilly's has hosted several music videos over the years for country artists such as Jerrod Niemann and Colton James, probably because the bar has an authentic, uniquely Southern feel to it. I mean, the place is located on a street called "Livestock Road." You can't get much more Southern than that.
But Sandilly's is just a bar -- and the video's setting was supposed to be a dusty combination bar AND casino. The production crew transformed the location by carrying in blackjack tables and setting up slot machines. Extras pretended to be card dealers, gamblers and prostitutes to create the kind of atmosphere the band and video director wanted.
The casino setup makes sense, considering that the music video is for a song called "Luck." In keeping with this spirit, we asked the band what the luckiest thing that happened to them in the past month was.
"We were in Vegas a few weeks ago...at the beginning of our tour," Zac said. (American Authors is currently performing in the Honda Civic Tour.) "I put a quarter into a quarter-slot machine and I won 80 bucks. How lucky is that?"
3. The Drinks
What you think is happening: People are throwing back beers like they're water.
What's actually happening: Most of the beers ARE water.
Some of the beers were real in this shoot, but most of the bottles were filled with good ol' H20. The shoot began at 5 AM and went till around 4 PM -- not exactly prime drinking hours.
The few people who did start boozin' circa 11 AM were definitely more than a little buzzed by the afternoon. Maybe this added to the authenticity of the video?
4. The Time
What you think is happening: It's the middle of the night.
What's actually happening: It's 1 in the afternoon.
Huge black covers blocked light from coming in through the windows, and a smoke machine (plus a whole lot of cigs -- gross) filled the place with smoke so thick it was difficult to see across the room. BAM, suddenly it looked like it was 2 AM.
5. The Makeup
What you think is happening: Rock stars want to look flawless on camera.
What's actually happening: They look like s--t on purpose.
The video's director asked the makeup artist to give Zac bags under his eyes, even though he already looked exhausted. The band had performed in Atlanta the previous night, and Zac needed to be in Dickson, Tennessee, first thing the next morning to film a sunrise shot. Understandably, he didn't look very bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when he arrived at the shoot circa 5:30 AM -- but that's exactly the kind of vibe his character needed.
"Fortunately the role that I'm portraying in this video is a little kind of tired and haggard and almost to the point of being strung out, so it was perfect," Zac told us.
6. The Hair
What you think is happening: Rock stars' hair naturally looks perfect. They woke up like that.
What's actually happening: A hair stylist constantly touches up the musicians' hair throughout the shoot.
When Zac's hair had to transform from a ruffled mess to a sleek 'do in between scenes, there was no time to wash the gel from the previous style out of his hair. Axe Hair's stylist Natalia Bruschi trimmed, flat-ironed and coiffed his hair into whatever style his character needed for the scene being filmed.
"[I'm shown as] different characters throughout the video, so there's a bunch of different hairstyles to go through and a bunch of different looks that need to be taken care of," Zac said. "From, you know, kind of the messy, disheveled look to the slicked back [look] to spiked-up and natural [looks]."
7. The Extras
What you think is happening: They're struggling actors or models.
What's actually happening: They're normal, everyday people just like you.
Pretty much everyone in the video (besides Zac, Matt, guitarist James Adam Shelley and bassist Dave Rublin) was a relative or friend of Sandilly's owners. Using local residents -- who'd probably be at the bar anyway -- as extras helped create "the natural environment that we [were] looking for," Matt told us.
Maybe someday you'll be in a music video yourself. Hey, a girl can dream, right?