John Butler Trio – Music Video Production Case Study

Photos by Jarrad Seng –

John Butler Trio are one of Australia’s best-known blues and roots acts and this is the second music video Sandbox has created for the band.

The first major challenge with “How Do You Sleep at Night?” was translating a dream John Butler had into a music video narrative. John had dreamt about an incident that revolved around a circular camera motion and the talented Ben Young created two music video treatments from this dream.

The treatment selected cut between the band playing and a bullying incident played in reverse. The treatment presented various production challenges revolving around equipment, casting and locations.

The music video has two locations and both of them had to be large enough to accommodate the circular track as well as a crew of 30 people plus actors and the band. Suitable locations are found in the most unusual of areas and this video was filmed in a church’s overflow car park as well as the inside of the Midland railway yards.

A lot of young actors were auditioned to find the right combination for the 3 bullies and victim, in the end the band went with Director Ben Young’s casting recommendations.

Art department and costumes also had their work cut out for them during pre-production with the creation of a bus stop and bench that replicated what you would see on the street in Perth. A mobile phone that would look good smashing into pieces when filmed in reverse slow motion was also harder than expected to track down.

To ensure the authenticity of the music video costuming was vital. The three bullies needed to look like thugs without being clichéd and there needed to be multiple versions of one costume as the actor was having water thrown in their face.

The music clip was shot over a blistering hot February weekend and crew safety was a paramount concern with plentiful water and fans provided to keep everyone cool and hydrated.

Multiple high-end cameras were used over the weekend to ensure the highest quality and the video was filmed at 50 frames per second instead of the standard 25 frames to help give the clip a dream like quality. What this meant for the band is that they had to play their song at double the normal speed in order for it to look good on camera, Sandbox provided the band with a speeded up version of the song so they could practice before the day of filming.

Now you know what went into the video, press play to see the end result!

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