Bessemer Saints, 'Another Night with Whiskey' BTS

There are typically two kinds of music projects that I shoot, music promos and the music videos. Shooting 'music promos' in a live scenario is what I call, a guerilla shoot. It's dicey business. You have a challenging one shot at everything, good or bad in a matter of a brutal 30-60 minutes.

So in post, you just wing it as best as you can with the content that you have. Video cheat here and there, audio scrub, taper, crossfade & pitch correct whatever you have to make the band look and sound good. Then there's the 'music video'. Shooting staged music videos is significantly better than live for the reason that you have huge amounts of control over everything to create a better product & the time to do it doesn't have to be a limiting factor.

Local Cleveland Ohio band Bessemer Saints asked me to shoot their staged music video in a very cool little bar that we had full control of. It was a perfect setting for their hard hitting original single, Another Night of Whiskey. I had known Terry 'the Bull' from some previous projects where he had approached me about doing this for his other band. I was more than eager to take this on. With the general idea of the video laid out, we gathered our forces, aligned our schedules and got to work on a real slick home grown slice of American rock 'n roll.


Bessemer Saints

Old-school original rock out of Cleveland, Ohio. Basically, if we dig it, we do it! And we dig a lot of different stuff.

Terry “Bull” Johnson-The Skins

Tommy "Whiz" Packard-6-String

Dave "Shags" Snodgrass-The Low End

Cory "Pipes" Wooten-Soulful Sounds



A swanky little bar with old school, hard working blue collar rock 'n roll vibes depicting a typical work week ending in copious amount of whiskey imbibing. 



Pretty much the title describes it. A group of buddies go down to a local watering hole, lock down the car keys for an evening of heavy whiskey drinking while shooting the shit and jamming out to some fine rock 'n roll. Make no question though that what they're drinking is whiskey though, nothing else.  



My first step in anything is learning the existing light, where it looks bad and where it looks good. Next how to fix it with the lights that I have. Then have a general idea where my camera angles are and where I'll shoot from and if I have enough space. After that, I move on to what lenses will be best suited for the scenes. In this case, I added (3) overhead LED tube lights to the existing ceiling grid mounted magnetically. This provided a little hair light and a general lift in overall illumination. I matched these tubes to around 3500K to the existing house light. I then added (2) 12x18 panel frontal fills with diffusion and color gels. This worked out nicely. I believe I shot everything around ISO1600 possibly into ISO3200 for a few shots, so my noise levels were pretty good. The R5 was setup for 60fps and 120 shutter speed for the possibility to slow thing down in post if I wanted. Bessemer Saints had a PA set up for lip sync reference playing back their already mixed 2 track audio master while I shot the video. I shot the entire song (6) times, each time a dedicated coverage of each band member and twice for the frontman. This was only the first or second time using the Ronin RS3 Pro stabilizer and I have to say, I love it. Solid, light and super smart. Carbon fiber is amazing.


Being in some close quarters I opted for the Sigma Art 28mm wide open at f/1.4 for each performer and the Sigma Art 50mm wide open at f/1.4 for the extra take of the frontman. Cory's lipsync to the reference track was spot-on and solid. The sync always works better when they actually sing the part rather than just mouth it. There was a hot flash moment when while standing in the center of the band members I thought to do a standing rotate pan as the guys played right in front of me like a quick fun talking head type look for a few seconds. Had a moment when I was on Cory's second pass when in my peripheral vision I saw that Tommy while playing guitar, had lost a string. He just kept pumping through the number regardless of the spangly mess. I jockeyed over and got focus, there was no way that I was not going to get at least a few seconds of that good stuff. Shaggy was all show and his gregarious presentation was absolute gold & had to actually watch my shooting positioning so I didn't get plowed over. Tommy burning the fretboard up (and strings), had that 70's acid rock wizardry unlocked and there was no slowing him down. While it was a little harder to actually shoot Terry behind the drums, his energy kinda doubles his presence. Cory's vocals & timing to the sync track were absolutely perfect. Everyone did really well with the sync track with just a handful of misses. We really didn't run into any issues at all through these 6 passes of the performance parts. It really was perfect. The patrons & cast were eager and did their part very well. Some basic instruction and sufficient amounts of alcohol got them in the zone for some authentic enjoyment.



Camera / Technical

Canon R5

Format - 4K DCI 4096x2160, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 59.94fps, 120fps, ALL-I 10-bit, S-LOG 3

Rendered to 4K 30FPS

Ronin RS3 Pro gimbal stabilizer, motorized 20" slider

Sigma Art 28mm f/1.4 and Sigma Art 50mm f/1.4 lenses

Location - local watering hole

Principal shoot & B-roll - 5 hours


There were basically (3) non-performance scenes -

Band members entering the bar in slo motion, approaches the bar and drops keys into a jar on the bar countertop. Ambient light only.

Scene shooting from behind the bar at the bartender and the band members at the bar selecting their drinks. Here I mounted the tube LED's magnetically overhead and directing on the countertop firing up at the patrons faces. It's hard to deny the versatility of these types of lights. Thankfully the magnets held here as they were definitely questionable if they would drop down on some noggins.



Here I set up the motorized slider and had it track panoramically 120 degrees across the bar countertop. I just let this run for a while picking up patrons working the camera, toasting each other and just having a good time. I thought that this could amount to some real life, fun candid B roll. There is a moment during this take that a special cameo appearance of yours truly is in there doing a shot of Jack Daniels Single Barrel Rye 130 proof with the boys from the band in a celebratory 'that's wrap' toast. I think during this scene I also shot a quick, special take of the barkeep pouring a drink in 120FPS for some super slo motion footage.



Special thanks to our gracious hosts, Gino’s Cento Anno for letting use their space while we did our thing. Also thanks to our tolerant and accommodating barkeep for playing along with us. She was a doll and such a good sport. Behind the scenes imagery and set assistant, Adam of Adam Begin Photography, thank you. It was a great location and fit perfectly to the video's vibe & purpose. I had such an excellent time shooting Bessemer Saint's music video & it was a real pleasure doing this for them. These guys are truly a dynamite bunch of chaps who were ridiculously easy to work with. Easy going, fantastic musicians who just turned on the mojo each a every take as if they were performing their first. These guys are the real deal and definitely showed up for business. Bessemer Saints has a very impressive thing going on and it'd be absolutely criminal to miss out on one of their shows. Make sure to send these guys some love and check out their kick ass material. Stay tuned for the imminent release of the video. Cheers!


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