It was a cold afternoon in the middle of the desert. I was about to begin filming day 1 of 3 of a music video trilogy. It was truly a picturesque day, the dry river beds were glistening in the sunlight. I hoped on the back of a moped that we were using as a picture vehicle to transport to our location. My 2nd Assistant Camera and one of my best friends, Brett Solem jumped on the other. We cruised down an empty road, we watched a crop duster fly over us, it was almost mesmerizing how close to the ground it was. I wasn’t paying much attention and as I took a turn too fast, I dropped the moped and slider about 10 feet on gravel with the moped still between my legs. I got up from the ground and laughed my ass off at the fact that this happened just before filming. Luckily I wasn’t too hurt, just covered in blood from a bunch of abrasions. We shot over the next 3 days, me with a bandaged arm, and it was one of my favorite projects I’ve been a part of. Below is a photo just after I dropped the bike giving my lead actresses a bit of direction about how to not eat it on a moped.
Needless to say, filmmaking is my extreme passion and ever since I started directing videos in college I knew that this would be my life’s path but was honestly not sure how to make this a full time job. Being a video director is all about vision, patience and the willingness to always be ready for a new challenge. You can read all the books and watch all the videos in the world, but you’ll never truly learn it unless you do it.
Through all of various jobs in music, film and major life commitments, I was directing music videos in between work hours. During that time I made videos with artists like Emery, Demon Hunter, As I Lay Dying, Stick To Your Guns, and more. It was my passion. Music was too. But, I decided I needed to put all of my focus, drive and energy towards filmmaking. I then put on my entrepreneur hat and founded Anthem Films in 2009, a music video production company. It was a rocky road for a while, but I used all of my music industry connections from over the years to forge relationships with people to partner with us on projects.
If you want to direct music videos, go for it. Don’t wait for some record label to hire you. Find a friend who’s in a band, (we all know someone), and make their first video and then their second, and then their third. Get creative. Use your limited resources to be the catalyst to push you to do something extra creative. Once record labels and other people get involved you no longer have the ability to do everything and anything you want, so seize the opportunity and just do it.
It’s a lot of work and takes a lot of commitment to keep a business going and to continue its growth. That can also be said for a filmmaker, it takes a lot to keep it going. It’s your business, develop it and let it grow.
DJay Brawner also plays in the band Good Knives, a rock band composed of British and American musicians Shaunny P, Duffs, DJay Brawner, and Ray Blanco. They released their self-titled album in 2010 to critical praise on tastemaker websites and active rotation on Pandora. In 2014, the band announced a UK tour in support of their newest album “A Place Called Doubt.” Purchase a CD or buy concert tickets here.