by JJ HellerTweet
Of all the aspects of my career, one of the most fun and the most nerve-racking is the making of music videos. Dave and I have to not only develop a concept for the video, but it’s also my responsibility to take care of the all-important (to me) details of what I’m going to wear, how will my hair and makeup be done. And then I stress out about whether I’ll have a clear complexion that day, or a major break-out!
I love dressing up as much as the next girl, but making a music video is the equivalent of having one of your year-book photos viewed by thousands of people over the course of the next several years. The unfortunate side affect for me is that I put an unreasonable amount of pressure on myself to look my best. So my challenge is to enjoy the process instead of trying to achieve perfection.
The other big question that we face is how much money we’re willing to spend on the video. So far we’ve made four official music videos, and today we debut our fifth. The cost of production has spanned a couple hundred to several thousand dollars. Do you want to hear something funny, and by funny, I mean ironic? The videos we spent the least amount of money on are the ones that have been the most watched and the most shared.
When I think about this phenomenon, it makes sense. It seems that what draws people to us and our music is the familiar, comfortable, homegrown quality. That’s not to say that we don’t love collaborating and creating elaborate and beautiful things, but sometimes it’s nice to keep things simple and relatable.
When brainstorming video ideas for our song, “Loved,” we decided that homemade was our best option. We came up with the storyline, scouted locations, bought the wardrobe (outfits for our daughter, Lucy, and me), bought 60 gerbera daisies, and planed for Dave to shoot and edit the footage with our own gear.
Our outline for the video went like this:
• Lucy walks by a couple of the nostalgic-looking homes in our neighborhood
• Lucy walks into a flower shop to purchase dozens of flowers.
• Lucy gives away the flowers to strangers and brightens their day!
In our neighborhood, there is a particularly picturesque home with a beautiful garden in the front yard. As our car approached the “perfect house,” we were disappointed to see one of the owners gardening out front. I assumed the shot was ruined and that we would simply keep driving in search of another not-quite-as-pretty house, but Dave did something unexpected. He pulled our minivan over and started getting out.
“What are you doing?!” I asked nervously.
“Let’s just talk to her and see.”
Here’s a little background on my husband:
Dave got his degree in photojournalism, and therefore isn’t afraid to speak to a stranger or event stick a camera in their face. I, on the other hand, have a deep fear of interacting with people I don’t know and loathe the idea of being scolded and rejected.
I watched from a distance as Dave struck up a conversation with the kind-looking middle-aged woman. I wanted to get back into the minivan and drive away from my awkward feelings, but I decided to be brave instead. Lucy and I began to walk toward Dave and the smiling gardener. As it turns out, she and her husband have lived in their home for years, have 12 grandchildren, and were genuinely thrilled that we wanted to feature their front yard in our music video. Even more than that, she offered to let Lucy pick some flowers to take home with us!
That got us thinking… what if we canned the flower shop idea, and implied that all of Lucy’s flowers came from this magical garden instead? Yes!
When we shot our very first music video (for What Love Really Means) in 2009, our only vision was to capture live performance footage of Dave and me in a moody space. When we arrived at the location, I noticed a giant chalkboard wall, and all of a sudden, ideas started to flow. What if I wrote lyrics on the board? What if before I wrote lyrics, I wrote lies that we sometimes tell ourselves? Everything started to fall into place. At the risk of being melodramatic, it felt divine. Before we knew it, our simple live performance video had turned into something special and powerful.
As we stood in that beautiful garden, creative lightning struck again. After shooting footage in the garden, a quick snack, we bought 5-dozen flowers and drove to our next location with a plan to give them all away to strangers. You would not believe how excited Lucy was to hand out her flowers, but I wondered if she would change her mind when we arrived at our destination. Time would tell.
We parked our car, filled up Lucy’s basket with flowers and gave her the simple instructions to hand out the flowers to whomever she wanted. She amazed me. Our little girl had no fear. She handed out flowers and joy wherever she went. I would never have been that brave as a child. To tell you the truth, I would struggle to be that brave as an adult!
When one woman asked Lucy why she was giving daisies away, Lucy replied, “Because you are special.” I can’t tell you what a proud mama I am. The name Lucy means bringer of light, and from the moment she came into the world, she has lived up to her name.
I’m often tempted to stay in the safety of my minivan; to stay tucked away in my seemingly safe, non-confrontational life. I’m realizing that lives are changed when I have the courage to step into the unknown. The more I know that I am loved, REALLY loved by the Creator of the universe, the more I can share that love with others. Thank you, four-year-old Lucy Love, for showing me how to be brave. By God’s grace, I hope to be a bringer of light too. All it takes is getting out of the minivan.
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