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Risky Roadz - Making a Music Video on a Low Budget

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Published Thursday 13 January 2022

A video is a key part of a music release now, and a lot of our applications to the Youth Music NextGen Fund spend a lot of their budgets on music videos, so we invited special guest director Roony Keefe, aka ‘Risky Roadz’ to hold an online workshop to share tips on how to make a great music video at a low cost.

Who is Risky Roadz? Creator of the legendary early 2000's DVD series "Risky Roadz", Roony Keefe kickstarted many MCs in the early days of grime. Today he's worked on music videos for Kano, Lethal B, Chip, Krept & Konan, Example and Devlin. 

Interview highlights

Can you explain who you are and what Risky Roadz is?

Originally I was a DJ, it was back in a time when it was Pirate Radio and you didn't really see anyone's faces, and I wanted to see what people looked like, and I thought if I wanted to see what people look like everyone does. I bought a cam corder and just started going around interviewing and filming freestyles, and putting the scene out there for everyone to see. My career progressed and started doing music videos, and now treatments and tv.

What equipment did you start off using?

My very first camera was a camcorder -  just one that you would take on holiday. And I just taught myself as I was doing it. And that's probably the best way because you're not robotic and you're not programmed to do everything in a set way. You do it how you want to do it and how you feel is right...and that's worked for me. Be creative with what you have and use everything to the best of your ability.

When it comes to shooting on a budget, what's important to you?

For me it was always my time. Then when that money was there, I'd further invest into more equipment down the line, or you're able to bring in a team. In the beginning it was a one-man-band, filming – directing – editing and I still do it to this day with artists videos as big as Skepta or Kano.

The narrative can often push the video further than having all the singing and dancing, y'know? 

What are the other key things people looking to shoot a video need – would you start with ideas first over equipment?

100% idea. If you look at It ain't safe that I did for Skepta, or Kano's Hail, they were idea led but there wasn't really a budget for everything.They wanted that old grime look so we ran with that - and you make the aesthetic work for the story that you're trying to tell. 

You could spent a million pounds on crew, lighting, cameras, but if the narrative and the idea of the video is no good, then the video won't be good. The narrative and the story is always the most important.

If you've got a budget of £500 the best thing you could do would be investing your time and a narrative, then maybe some props to carry the narrative, or maybe a little bit of lighting.

In terms of lighting, where would be a good point to start?

You can buy LED strip lights that change colour and are effective and cheap, little rigs that you can get that wont break the bank, or even get creative - like someone I saw sellotaped their phone to a broom mop. Test things out, if you think of something try it out, shoot it and if you don’t like it don’t put it in the final edit.

If you can find a way of doing it and getting it out there it will work.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Try take inspiration from everywhere, conversations or memories. Whatever happens whilst shooting try run with it but don’t stick to a plan, if you get an idea out whilst shooting, adapt it and see whether it works.

As Youth Music, we'd be interested to know about the process, like where you get your ideas from, and giving the person who's assessing the application a picture of where you're at - why you make the music you do. The music video gives us more context as an introduction.

Yeah, it’s a visual portfolio you're showcasing to people. If the whole process of this is the way to tell their story, the best way is to be true them within the story that matches the song, adding things that mean something to the narrative.

Watch the video above for the full conversation and more questions Roony answered from people who tuned in. 

black and white photo of three young people with NextGen Fund text written on top

The Youth Music NextGen Fund is for early-stage musicians and wider music adjacent creatives to invest up to £2,500 in their own projects and make their ideas happen. The fund is especially aimed at people who want to launch a project, idea, or business for those whose lack of finance holds them back from pursuing their goals.

Applications for Round 2 of the NextGen Fund are now open. The deadline for applications is 5pm Monday 17 January 2022.

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