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Indie Genre Conventions

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  • 1. Indie Genre Conventions By Kristian Coomber
  • 2. What is Indie? The word ‘Indie’ derives from the independent music record companies that were producing low-budget movies. The Indie genre flows through all different media mediums including films (Layer Cake, Submarine), TV Shows, magazines etc. Indie has many recurring themes to it that makes it what it is. These themes are: Low- Budget, Amateur (not including music), meaningful, adventurous & experimental, personal, and down-to- earth.
  • 3. Colour The colour for an indie music video is very significant because of how colour can change audiences’ view on the video as a whole. As music videos are an art form, their construction in terms of aesthetics has to be detailed in its manufacturing in order to provoke the correct mood for the audience. Pop songs are embedded with an array of bright colours - ranging from pink to light blue - in order to keep their audience (mainly children/teenagers) engages within the video. However, the genre of indie takes a different approach due to the principles that are presented within the products of the genre. For example, Alt J’s Breezeblocks (a video that has over 20 million views on YouTube) focuses on real issues such as domestic abuse, and it is this reality aspect that the indie genre encompasses that effects the colour of the video to make it more real. In this sense then, it can be argued that colour isn’t as well thought about within indie music videos, but this isn’t the case. Indie still has a colour palette that a lot of music videos take use of and it is even existent in independent films such as Layer Cake too. Mostly indie colours aren’t too bright or extravagant because they don’t want to direct the audience’s attention away from the meaning, but they are still constructed with the same detail as other genres and edited in post production as well. The screen grab below is from a video of the band Front Bottoms and as you can see the tint colour is green/blue and it is still relatively artistic - as well as not being too bright.
  • 4. Colour Palette
  • 5. Mise-en-Scène The Mise-en-Scene covers a variety of different factors including location, setting, props, costume, makeup and more. Most Indie music videos won’t be the same in terms of props, as every video is different so it never will be the same. However costume is very similar through a lot of Indie videos, embedding the ‘realistic’ attribute to the costume the actors/artist/members where. This includes straight jeans, shirts, brogues etc. and this is based on what the target audience where too and in this case the ‘tribe’ targeted is the ‘Leading Edge’. Location and setting also takes the factors of the Indie genre into account, and is accentuated through many different music videos throughout the industry. Seeing as amateur, or more so not professional, is one of the aspects for the genre settings in a studio isn’t regularly seen. On the other hand though, what is seen within Indie videos constantly is low-budget places such as in an urban landscape (city), in the woods, or at someone’s house (garage or bedroom).
  • 6. Performance/Narrative There are two types of music videos: Performance and Narrative. Of course though, music video production doesn’t follow a set of guidelines and therefore these two can be mashed up or used in a variety of different ways. Indie performance is very similar to a Rock performance in a music video. There are many instruments (or at least two or more), and there are many shots that show the band off as a collective with close ups etc. However the genre Indie takes the performance one step further and makes it a lot more personal and a lot more friendly. Based on Indie principles of low-budget, but personal and realistic, many indie music video performance are based in bedrooms or garages to show those meanings. Narrative in terms of a music video is a visual story that presents itself through the art of filmic techniques (acting, camera angle, mise-en-scene etc.). An indie narrative does just this but I would argue that it focuses on more powerful messages in the video rather than just a love for someone or a tough breakup. For example Breezeblocks by Alt J does this with the major theme of domestic abuse as well as many other themes, and the video Just by Radiohead also has a powerful message because it is so ambiguous that it leaves people wondering afterward, and therefore showing that music videos aren’t just about advertising for indie, it’s more about the music and the message.
  • 7. Camera Camera techniques is an aspect of production that is very similar throughout all the genres of music videos. The most familiar are these: • Close Up • Wide Angle Mid Shot You could use these two type of shots to produce a whole music video, but because music videos are supposedly pieces of art, Directors tend to put there own style on the camera angles side of things but still linking it to the genre and the meaning of the video. In a rap video there will be a lot of close ups of the artist because the video’s purpose would be to advertise the artist much more – ‘star image’. This is similar to Pop videos as well, but within rap videos there are many more titled-up shots to show how the artist wants to come across as superior. In an indie music video there are many close ups also but equally on the instruments (if performance) and the artist/band members. Indie videos are very low-budget and artistic in the camera angles. There are very little cranes or rigs moving the cameras and you will often see shots where cameras have been put in odd places and have produced aerial shots for example or point-of-view.
  • 8. Editing Colour Correction is used a lot within music videos to give that artistic look that is so vastly seen within many videos. Although this is a technique used within most videos, most Indie music videos aren’t alike and they all take different style to their own video - trying to express that theme of being experimental and adventurous. Breezeblocks takes the effects of using slow motion and turning the video backwards to express the meanings in its video in a very different way; especially twisting the concept of time and yet still conforming to Todorov’s theory of narrative. Vampire Weekend’s ‘A-Punk’ music video also uses a twisted concept of time throughout. The performance shots are sped up and yet the lip- syncing is still accurate. The speed though gives an almost robotic look to the video as well as making it unique.
  • 9. The Other Side to Indie Although there are many music videos created from bands such as Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys, and The Editors (whereby the construction of them is very down-to-earth), there are many videos that don’t follow this concept and are still considered to be Indie. There are many Indie music videos that incorporate a lot of computer animation or Sci-Fi costumes etc. However although this may contradict what has been established about Indie videos, these type of videos that are part of the ‘other side to Indie’ still incorporate the same founding principles. Most of these types of videos are done for humorous purposes only as that’s the type of message the band/artist wants to show. The videos are still experimental, adventurous and quirky within their production of shots and they still incorporate the fact that the video is meant to look low budget and slightly amateur.
  • 10. The Other Side to Indie Although there are many music videos created from bands such as Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys, and The Editors (whereby the construction of them is very down-to-earth), there are many videos that don’t follow this concept and are still considered to be Indie. There are many Indie music videos that incorporate a lot of computer animation or Sci-Fi costumes etc. However although this may contradict what has been established about Indie videos, these type of videos that are part of the ‘other side to Indie’ still incorporate the same founding principles. Most of these types of videos are done for humorous purposes only as that’s the type of message the band/artist wants to show. The videos are still experimental, adventurous and quirky within their production of shots and they still incorporate the fact that the video is meant to look low budget and slightly amateur.

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