I did a good job as a Production Assistant the first time around I guess! I was invited back and this shoot was way more massive than the Knots video. Funny story, this was my first time being in a strip club. That is where this video actually takes place, Club Lust NY in Brooklyn.
I’m from New Jersey and at the time I had no car or any means of transportation. I was actually just using my mother’s car to get around from shoot to shoot. But this time she had work. My dad was also working so I had to take the train. Before I left my house I took my sister’s longboard and was off. Once I got to Manhattan, it was all about how I was going to get to Brooklyn. Crew call was for 4 o’clock. I left New Jersey at 1 pm so that I had time to fuck up. Long story short my phone died, I got lost about 3 times and ended up taking the subway in circles. It’s now 3:45 pm and I just touched down in Brooklyn. I was afraid of getting lost again so I got off the subway ASAP. I just assumed that the Subway was in the area that I wanted to be in. I don’t know why I forgot how big Brooklyn was.
I had to buy a new portable charger and when I finally got my phone to turn on I saw how far away I was. I was at the Barclays center and I had to go all the way to the club which was on 47th street. That would mean I had to travel 3.2 miles and I was already late. Now my heart was racing. I would have no issues with taking an uber. The only problem is that the only transportation money I had was for the trains and that’s all. I had no money for an Uber. The only thing I could do was skate. And so I did.
If I walked it would have taken me an hour to get to the club. Now it’s about 4 o’clock. The time that the crew was supposed to be on set and I get a call from the producer asking where I am. I tell them that I got lost and I am on my way. It took me about 35 minutes to get there on my board. Skating nonstop street after street having to go up hills and all. By the time I walked in my legs were on fire, I was sweating bullets, and everyone had already started setting up lights. They all laughed at how I got lost and let me catch my breath before I got started.
TIME TO SHOOT
Talent walked in one by one and was ready to shoot. We ended up with about 40+ extras, some of them were some pretty popular social media influencers. While we set up on the main stage we held all of the talents in another massive room in the club. They all sat down and exchanged information and just chilled. There was food, drinks, and snacks for them and when it was time to film they all flooded to the main stage.
We set up lights all around the club so that by the time the artist arrived we could just turn on the camera and get moving. We filmed in 5 main places: The stripper stage, a wall in the hallway, an elevator, a bathroom, the DJ booth and the overall club itself.
The Stripper Stage Lighting Set up
We shot all the Broll for the strippers first. It turns out that we could not use the lighting that the club has to offer because it was all broken. So we had to get creative. We used theatrical lighting to light the models (strippers) on the pole and then used regular tungsten lights to shine it in the mirror. I’m literally in the background with one of the
lights just swinging it back and forth. This was supposed to emulate the robotic lights that clubs usually have. Then everything was shot in slo-mo and it made everything look sexy.
DJ Booth Lighting Setup
After filming the strippers, that set the tone for the rest of the shoot so we moved on to film Megan Ryte’s intro when DJ Envy passes off the headphones to her. This was a simple set up and all it really was was a 500w tungsten with a red gel boomed up high because her booth was overlooking everyone in the club. Then inside the booth to add color contrast we added a blue lightbar and had it placed behind Megan.
So a part of the video was inspired by the movie JUICE (1992). Desiigner was there and he was acting in the music video. In one of the scenes, he is supposed to run into an elevator and its supposed to close only to have Megan block the elevator and confront Desiigner, like Tupac did in the movie. The lighting in the elevator was horrible so we got one of those little pocket LED lights, they were throwing off a nice soft look.
The only issue was that there was too much bounce. In order for us to direct the light we had to create a makeshift skirt out of Gaffers tape and it went a long way into making the shot look a bit more cinematic. To add some separation someone outside of the elevator was shining a light into the elevator and that’s how we have that blue and orange light separation going. I actually uploaded a BTS video for this scene on my Instagram (@TheCinematicHitman) story. Click my @ name to see it.
There is a scene before the elevator where Desiigner is in the bathroom and he shoots someone. The bathroom lighting was really simple as it was a very tight space. All it was was a simple red tube light that illuminated the bathroom to kind of make it look a little bit surreal. And that was it.
THE CLUB LIGHTING SETUP
NOW, THIS WAS THE MONSTER SHOT! We had to make sure that all of the dancers were lit! What we ended up doing was create a modified version on the way we set up the stripper scene. We had two 300w watts imitate the robotic club lights since the real club lights were not working. One of them moved randomly in the background while the other one moved randomly in the foreground for depth. Then we took a 500w (The same from the DJ Booth) and gelled it red. Towards frame left of the image below you can see a hint a blue light adding contrast in the foreground. That is a PA hollywooding a blue light bar following the main people that are dancing. And that was it. Hollywooding means that someone is following a subject with a light, bounce board, anything that requires tracking. That was the look that we used to light every single person in that room.
The scenes with Tory Lanez was on a completely different day at a completely different time. He never showed up to the club. So to be honest I can’t really tell you how that scene was lit.
It was a fun shoot and I admired the way that the director was able to keep everything fun and still keep control of all of that talent! There were so many people in that room!! Since I had to take a train back home I ended up leaving a bit early.
If you liked what you read don’t forget to subscribe to my blog! I made another post like this where I broke down the lighting to another music video I was a production assistant on Wifisfuneral – Knots!
Owner, Founder, Director, Editor Producer of Kaylex Productions.
Full-Time freelance filmmaker from New Jersey.