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5 Microbudget Music Videos That Made a Big Splash 26.01.2021

"Lotus Flower" Radiohead's music video still / www.youtube.com

Often artists and filmmakers lose sleep over small budgets and the problems having limited funds entail. How many wild visions had to be drastically cut down after coming head to head with austere production realities! Often enough, however, it’s not money that’s the problem, but a lack of an interesting idea.

Efforts underpinned by an original idea demonstrate considerably greater staying power—and the notion holds particularly true for music videos. Many have made quite the splash despite their limited budgets. Below, we're focusing on the most prominent examples of originality and creativity. All our picks can be used as a source of inspiration in the course of preparing for the upcoming Papaya Young Directors international contest, especially the Music Stories category. PYD organizers have teamed up with Kayax label again, allowing the contestants to make music videos for top Polish artists and bands—Kayah, Julia Wieniawa, Krzysztof Zalewski, Barbara Wrońska, Bloo Crane, and Karaś/Rogucki duo. This means choosing from variety of different music genres: from folk, through dance and pop to alternative sounds. Our contestants will be free to pick from the songs and styles presented in the Music Stories creative starters. The competition starts on February 15th. 

Gotye – Somebody That I Used to Know (feat. Kimbra)

We’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know the video in question. The international chart breaker, which grew so popular in 2011 that you could easily expect it to play when you opened your fridge, was accompanied by a music video that pulled in over a billion views on YouTube, its original visuals long outlasting the single’s overnight popularity. In the video, a naked couple is singing the lyrics, “clad” only in the colors of the backdrop behind them—a visual metaphor for the complicated relationship between them. Notably, Gotye, who is one of the most recognisable Australian indie rock artists, himself financed the production and, in an interesting twist, never allowed YouTube to place ads on the video, thus depriving himself of at least a couple of millions of dollars in ad revenue. 

Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra) - official music video / autor: Gotye

Keaton Henson – You Don't Know How Lucky You Are

Keaton Henson is kind of famous for making videos for pennies. The small budgets, however, in no way temper his ability to infuse the clips with rich symbolism and his distinctive, subtle sensibility. One example can be found in his work for You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are—which tells the story of a woman, hurt and vulnerable, who exposes her emotions to give us the opportunity to experience them alongside her. Bolstered by incredible acting and augmented by Henson’s music, the video is quite the experience. 

Keaton Henson - You Don't Know How Lucky You Are (Official Video) / autor: Keaton Henson

OK Go – Here It Goes Again

Music videos do not necessarily have to have multiple layers of meaning. Sometimes it’s enough for them to be amusing—at least that’s what the musicians OK Go decided to go with when they set out to record one of its videos at the gym. Doing choreography on an electric treadmill? Why not. The video itself took the online world by storm and won a Grammy for the best music video in 2006 and an award from YouTube for the most creative use of a chosen medium.

OK Go - Here It Goes Again (Official Music Video) / autor: OK Go

Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues

Well, it seems that Bob Dylan was the one who came up with the lyric video genre. In the music video for Subterranean Homesick Blues, Dylan himself is standing in front of the camera and flipping through cue cards covered with the song’s lyrics. Many of them have spelling errors or misplaced lyrics—a deliberate move on the part of Donovan, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Neuwirth (the latter two can be seen in the background), and Dylan himself. The groundbreaking music video even found its way into the top ten of Rolling Stone’s 100 Top Music Videos List. 

Bob Dylan - Subterranean Homesick Blues / autor: Bob Dylan

Radiohead – Lotus Flower 

"I’m never confident about how I look, but I’m always into being shocking and visually interesting... I was deeply uncomfortable with the Lotus Flower video. I did the whole thing, it was such a crack, and then they showed me the rushes the next day and I was like, This ain't going out. It was like paparazzi footage of me naked or something. It was fucked up. But if it's a risk that’s probably a good thing", said Radiohead's frontman in Dazed Magazine interview. The intimate, black-and-white video with Thom Yorke dancing in a bizarre, ecstatic way, definitely doesn't resemble the classic choreography. The vocalist's improvisation, which was nominated for a Grammy, beautifully corresponds with an expressive, electronic background of the song.

Radiohead - Lotus Flower / autor: Radiohead
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