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The Fan Made Music Video: Why Elton John Needs You To Be A Director

Since the birth of Youtube, fan-made music videos have been on the rise, with amateur directors offered a seat at the table with the most esteemed music video makers. These videos didn’t start with the internet however; long before the internet was available to most people, pop punk band Feeder released a lo-fi music video for ‘Just A Day‘, compiled of fans’ gritty VHS reels of them singing along to the track in earnest abandon. It was a hit, and paved the way for artists to utilise the creativity of their fans once the webcam, and later the smartphone, made their way into young fans bedrooms and pockets.

Once the remit of cult bands and pop punkers, fan made videos have now infiltrated the mainstream, with pop behemoths like Justin Bieber, Coldplay, and Fifth Harmony throwing their hats into the ring, whilst unofficial fan made videos like this one for Silento’sWatch Me‘ having racked up over 188 millions plays on Youtube. Critics of the trend have suggested that the practice is exploitative – yet anyone who has dipped their toes into the world of music fandom will know that fans are already generating a huge amount of creative material – artwork, fiction, blogs, videos, crafts, music – all inspired by their favourite artists. For people like this, surely the chance to create something that may been seen by the artist, or even used in an official capacity, must be a dream come true.

The latest artist to jump on the trend is pop icon Sir Elton John, who is offering amateur directors the amazing opportunity to direct music videos for some of his biggest hits, including ‘Rocket Man‘, ‘Tiny Dancer‘, and ‘Bennie and the Jets‘. Having joined forces with AKQA, Pulse Films and YouTube for “Elton John: The Cut, the project marks the 50th anniversary of his collaborative relationship with lyricist Bernie Taupin. Speaking on the subject, Elton says “One of the reasons we are doing this project with YouTube is to encourage young filmmakers to create visual ideas for these songs, and it gives us the chance to share [them] with younger fans.

Aspiring filmmakers should apply on the site. If their idea gets chosen by the judges (Jeff Katzenberg, Barry Jenkins, Melina Matsoukas, Elton and Bernie Taupin) they’ll get a full production budget plus support from Pulse Films (Beyoncé ‘Lemonade‘) and YouTube and a $10,000 fee. What makes this opportunity distinct from other fan sourced music videos, is that fans need simply provide the idea, that is then created with a professional budget and production company with the successful applicant getting the opportunity to direct the whole video. There are few stipulations for potential applications, only that each video should incorporate different artistic elements – ‘Rocket Man‘ must be animated, ‘Tiny Dancer‘ should be live action, and ‘Bennie and the Jets‘ must feature choreography.

Good luck and get applying!


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