Sofar Sound is an international brand of pop-up music events hosted in cities all around the world. I joined the Sofar Bath team back in 2017 and have been their lead video producer ever since.
If you’ve never been, Sofar Sounds is all about discovery. It is hosted at secret, bespoke, boutique venues and these can range from anything from someone’s flat, a bus, art galleries, sofa shops… you name it. The line up also remains a secret and is predominantly new singer/songwriter types, but you also get the odd curveball act.
From a videography stance Sofar always presents a challenge. First of all you’re in a brand new location every time, and one that isn’t designed to work as a music venue. So right away you need to deal with the logistics of where to set up cameras and what you can do in terms of lighting. When I film (live events in particular), I like to dress in black, wear trainers and generally creep around like a ninja because I don’t want to be one of the jerks who jumps up on stage and gets in between the performance and the audience, which is no mean feat when filming in smaller locations. In some instances I will utilise the wi-fi remote monitoring feature of a camera in combination with remote controlled gimbal allowing me to operate both the camera I’m stood in front of and the one on the other side of a room full of people, as was the case with this video where I was controlling the motion of two cameras at the same time.
In addition to logistical solutions you’re also forced to think on your feet creatively. You must immediately analyse the venue for any points of visual interest that could act as cutaways, but also something that could visually complement the music of the artists you are recording. And this is music I will never had heard before. Filming a song requires a live interpretation of the song being performed so that you can anticipate when to centre on the instruments or the vocals, when to zoom in for intimacy and intensity or when to go wide for the big finish.
Filming Sofar competently is a real skill all of its own, something that you have to develop a feel for and it has definitely been a place where I been able to sharpen my own skills, as well as experimenting with new ideas, equipment and techniques. Above all that I love the team. James, Sarah, Jonny, Luke, Dani and Ben are just the best people to work with, and I don’t just say that to be complementary. When you’re lucky enough work in a team of people who are fun, chill and so totally competent at what they do there’s never any real hassle or stress – everything just happens as nature intended. Never a frown with Sofar Sounds.
To see a whole bunch of Sofar Bath videos click here