Shooting A Music Video. On A Roof. Downtown Los Angeles


Behind The Scenes "Goodbye L.A." Shoot.

By: Jared Abrams

I got a call to shoot a music video from Director Darcy Fray. It was for a song called “Goodbye L.A.” by Reagan Browne. There was not a ton of money, but enough to get a proper crew and cool location. I am always game for that kind of shoot. The only hitch was that the band was only available to shoot from 9am till 3pm, very harsh lighting conditions. There was no way I was going to bring a twenty by twenty silk to the roof. No man power, too much risk. We met for the first time at the location. It was a great roof top in downtown Los Angeles. I brought some sunset grads to show Darcy how we could fake it in camera. Give it that magic hour look. On the day of shooting, it was cloudy, with a chance of rain. The sunset grads would not look very good. I went with ND 9’s and a Polarizer to darken the buildings in the background. I decided on a neutral picture style with the contrast and saturation both turned down one click. (See Photo)

My Picture Styles for the shoot.

The hardest part was shooting the band dressed in all black against the white ominous sky. I was trying to keep it at a T4.5 for the Canon 5D Mark II and around a T4 for the 7D. We were both shooting at native 160 ISO. I ended up exposing for the sky and adding a 575W HMI on Reagan Browne’s face for a little eye light.  I had a doorway dolly. Two pieces of track and track wheels. I ended up not using the dolly but shot the last scene handheld with a Red Rock Micro Eyespy Rig. We had a few cameras, four in total, I think. Only the “A” camera was wearing a 7″ Marshall HDMI with a 2-port splitter to another 7″ Marshall HDMI for the Director. We also brought a full set of Zeiss Ze primes. Jason brought a set of Nikon primes. Nancy brought a set of Canon primes and a few zooms. I think she was using a Canon 70-200mm T2.8 IS. I am not sure if it was the new one. We ended up using the Zeiss ZE lenses for most of the shots. We also used a broken Canon Ef 50mm f1.8 for some lens baby type stuff.  Nancy Schreiber, ASC came out and shot second unit for us. Nancy is awesome.  She has embraced the DSLR’s and lent us her expertise for the day. We were so lucky to have her eye for Downtown street scenes of Los Angeles. The Bui Brothers Vu and Lan came over and helped us shoot our now famous “Drop Test“.  We shot some really gorgeous footage on that rooftop. The clouds that seem to never grace the sky gave us a dark and dreary scene that played well with the song “Goodbye L.A. ” I really had a fantastic time working with everyone. Thank you so very much Darcy Fray for making that call! Here are some shots taken by Hunter Kerhart. It was such a fun shoot. Thank you all.

All Photos By: Hunter Kerhart

Darcy Fray & Jason Wawro

Chris Collins, Jared Abrams, Nancy Schreiber, ASC

Canon 7D Zeiss ZE 35mm Arri Mini FF, B&S MB, SV20 Head. Senn MKE400

5DMKII, Zeiss ZE 21mm, Arri MMF1, Marshall 7"

Jared Abrams
Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
  • Alvaro Gutiérrez

    Great article. Is the video done editing? Where can I watch it?

  • Alvaro Gutiérrez

    Sorry, I just checked Reagan’s website for the video.

  • Paige in Need of Roof Location

    Jared, I’m looking for a rooftop location.  Do you happen to have the info for the location contact?  My name is Paige and you can email me at paige AT epiclevel DOT com. Would love to hear from you.  THANKS!

  • Kcafare