Why the Ibiza Music Video Festival is supporting the browbeaten music video industry.
For two days in October just after the tourist season finishes, as Balearic revellers slink off the island to nurse their party wounds, the Ibiza Music Video Festival appears, bringing with it an altogether more diverse crowd – anyone and everyone with an interest in music videos, from record label commissioners to aspiring young filmmakers. With day tickets only €30 and €50 for the full festival, with offers on accommodation too, it’s a few notches more inclusive than other festivals in the industry.
Now in its second year, it promises to pack as much content as possible into those two days, including workshops on practically every aspect of music video production and promotion from industry leaders, an award ceremony to celebrate the best work in the medium internationally and plenty of room for rubbing shoulders too.
Rupert Bryan, a director who also runs the production company Motion Picture House, and his collaborative partner Elizabeth Fear, launched the festival last year. “It’s not that complicated,” he says. “It’s just getting good, interesting people together and telling them ‘share your knowledge, share your skills, let some other people know about it, give them your time and maybe get a job out of it.’”
But simple doesn’t always mean easy. Rupert’s willing to admit that building a unique global event from the ground up is no easy task. So many different variables have to line up for it to work, he explains, with panels, workshops, submissions, flights and accommodation to organise. “It’s like trying to piece this massive puzzle together,” he says. “You kind of know what the end is going to look like, but all the bits are absolutely everywhere and it’s taking far too long.”
Meanwhile, he’s also trying to run a production company, making the festival organising an uphill struggle, trying to grab moments for it whenever he can. “When something good happens, that motivates you,” he says. “Then you suddenly realise you’ve got all the other 980 things you’ve got to be doing.”
The biggest challenge for the event is funding. As great as the idea is, it won’t get far without some capital behind it. That’s no great surprise though because music videos are hardly the most lucrative medium these days. Decades on from the heyday of MTV, the promo is downtrodden and somewhat sidelined by the production industry.
But that’s sort of the point for Rupert. He relishes the challenge to build something despite this adversity. “Let’s choose a business where there’s no money,” he suggests. “Let’s choose a business where people don’t want to support it because they think there’s no value in it. Brilliant idea.” Despite his sarcasm, he’s genuinely defiant. He’s done crazy things like this before, once organising a concert in the middle of the Costa Rican rainforest for no good reason.
It’s not normal for someone to want to do this kind of thing, but the idea of creating something unique that people enjoy exhilarates Rupert. “Every time I catch a glimpse I stop for a second and go ‘we’re actually doing this.’”
In a time when music videos are at a low ebb, both financially and in terms of industry support, Rupert’s attempts to build this festival are simply his expression of love for a medium he’s always had a passion for. His first ventures into filmmaking were putting music to moving image and he still directs videos when he can find the time. “Oddly I think the first music video I did was when I was about 14 or 15 to a John Barry score,” he remembers. “I still enjoy it but it takes so much time and effort that I couldn’t make a living from it.”
People in production have generally still got big love for music videos. If they didn’t none would get made, considering the piles of favours that budgets demand are pulled in for each one, the long hours working in unglamorous locations without the luxuries of a commercial shoot. The contrast is quite stark to Rupert. “Doing a music video it’s 18 hours and you’re on the coast and it’s wet and you’ve just got some biscuits,” he laughs. “And you’ve got to carry on.”
People do though. An animator might dedicate two weeks of his life to a track because they love it so much. “That’s something they’re really proud of,” says Rupert. “In a commercial sense that would have been their wages for three years.” That’s what music videos do to people.
The sheer man-hours put into these projects are remarkable. For a three-minute video it could be 20 or 30 people dedicating a day or two of their life, often for little or no pay, to make something creative and exciting. “How much creative time gets spent that doesn’t get recognised,” he wonders. “If we can recognise a little bit of that, that can only be a good thing.”
It’s incredible that anyone would bother until you remember how fun, creative and cool the medium is. “It’s actually great fun,” Rupert insists. “Ask the costume designer at three o’clock in the morning when she’s been standing in the cold in the woods. But cut to that three-minute version two weeks later and you forget all the pain.” That’s why music video still attracts so much talent.
The music video has been on a tumultuous ride since the age when the Gondrys and Romaneks of the world first ran riot, but despite the decline in budgets, many changes have helped the medium. With the relentless march of technology, access to entry has been made easier. The tools you need to make a music video can be cheap, allowing bedroom auteurs to emerge. “Someone with a 5D, a good set of lenses, understands light, with a little playback system,” suggests Rupert. “Suddenly you can get something good. They can have a go at it.”
And that’s another reason the music video genre is so vibrant these days. With video sharing an integral part of online behaviour, three-minute videos about music are ideally poised to spread. Remember, Gangnam Style – the most popular thing on the internet ever – was a music video.
From this perspective, music video has never been riper for an event like the Ibiza Music Video Festival. The passion is there, along with the talent. The festival has no fee to enter work, so even the smallest-time of directors can get their work considered. But, in part due to that, all that’s missing is the money.
This is mirrored in Rupert’s experience. He and his team have been inundated with entries this year from around the world – almost triple last year’s number. And the quality has blown Rupert away. “This is incredible stuff,” he says.
“When I’m looking our budget and our deficit sometimes I think ‘why the hell are we doing this?’” admits Rupert “It’s a challenge but I’m determined to make it work. We’ve come so far. It’s a good idea. But sometimes good ideas don’t pay the bills.”
Rupert’s hope isn’t just to put on a good festival for his own satisfaction. With the right people involved he hopes the Ibiza Music Video Festival can drive the medium forward in all sorts of ways. With awards to support people in their careers, the newest talent will be allowed to flow into the industry with greater ease.
And maybe it’s a vain hope, but Rupert suggests it might even bring more interest and thus more cash into the music video. “Ultimately the music video is undervalued,” he believes. “There are lots out there, but the ones that grab your attention and make you want to watch it again – planning and normally a lot of experience goes into those.”
Find out more and buy tickets on the Ibiza Music Video Festival website.