Before picking up the video camera, Bryon Evans, director, cinematographer and editor for Bryon Evans Films of Reno, struggled for a decade to make a living as a musician in Southern California.
That’s why Evans is keen to the needs of music professionals — especially the importance for artists to grow their audiences through video exposure such as the first-ever Reno Music Video Night in a couple of weeks.
There’s scant money in the music video business in northern Nevada, cinematographers say, unless they are working with bands that have signed with a record label that can provide financial backing for a high-end video. Many local bands and musicians have garnered a strong following locally, but that recognition usually doesn’t translate into big budgets for costly video productions.
As a result, Reno-Sparks video production companies that make music videos typically have several other avenues of work, such as shooting advertising spots or sporting events, from which they draw the bulk of their revenue.
Evans has filmed several of the more notable music videos produced for regional artists, including “Long Way Home,” a blistering classic rocker from the Bizarre Guitar owner Greg Golden and vocalist Paul Holdgate that has more than 3.2 million views on YouTube. He’s also filmed and produced videos for budding young artist Whitney Meyer at the Grand Sierra and well-known breakbeat/dubstep artist Bassnectar.
Evans says most musicians in the region just can’t spring for an expensive production.
“The more established bands understand they need a high-quality video production to put themselves out there professionally,” he says. “The ones that do understand that budget for it. They know that they have to have a good music video if they want to have eyeballs on them.”
Costs for producing music videos varies with each production, says Steve Mehler of Vid-Tek Productions and a 28-year videographer. It can be less expensive to shoot a concert performance such as Golden’s “Long Way Home” than a video that tells a story, such as “Storey County Line,” another well-known video shot by Bryon Evans Films that’s set in a Storey County brothel.
For those shoots, videographers often are on site for several days with multiple cameras and spend equal amounts of time editing footage. Intricate editing can significantly could boost costs, as does securing the necessary permits when shooting in public locations, such as under the arch in downtown Reno.
Though Mehler has shot music videos, he’s found a more steady income stream filming legal videography such as depositions and legal documentaries used as courtroom evidence.
“If you are truly doing music videos that are going to have a budget, generally you will be in a much bigger city than Reno, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco or New York where they have record labels — that is where lot of that money comes from,” Mehler says.
Costs aren’t set in stone, Evans notes, as rates often are negotiated between performers and cinematographers. Though music videos may seem a thing of the past — MTV airs far more reality TV programming these days than it does music videos — it’s still crucial for bands and musicians to have music videos to boost their exposure to wider audiences. Shooting music videos is a small part of gross revenue at Bryon Evans Films, but he’s pushing to increase it.
“With the online world and online video becoming more and more important, it’s still relevant,” Evans says. “Locally, we have lot of amazing bands. But the music business has got to be the hardest business to break into — I tried for 10 years. Working with musicians can be very challenging compared to working with a national company with a budget to put together a high-end production. But I truly do love doing music videos and video production; I am willing to work with musicians on a creative and budgetary level to make things happen. It is a medium I really enjoy.”
Music videos from local bands will be showcased at the inaugural Reno Music Video Night at Studio on 4th on Sept. 26. Promoter Mike Sion, who wrote “Storey County Line,” agrees that serious musicians need an online video presence to market their music. Sion’s video has garnered more than 339,000 views on YouTube.
The event showcases 20 music videos from Reno-area acts produced primarily by Reno-based film studios. The purpose of the event is to generate increased regional interest in bands performing at venues throughout northern Nevada.
“Reno is a microcosm of the world’s music scene,” Sion says. “Serious musicians nowadays need an online presence to market themselves, and music videos are as indispensible as putting your music online.
“This night is a chance for musicians, videographers, actors and fans to see some of the great music videos being made in Reno and to network amongst each other for future projects.”