Takeaway Music Video - Production Story


“Do You Remember Your First Business Trip To New York?”

It was 11pm, I just sat down in my hotel room after traveling all day. In 30 hours I would have the entire Vessel at Hudson Yards blocked off to produce a music video for The Chainsmokers. And I was experiencing more stress than I ever had in my entire life. 

My to do list was endless–I had to tour the site, secure rentals, finalize a call sheet (with 40 people), create a down-to-the-minute schedule that was flexible enough to accommodate delays. 

And we were shooting in 30 hours. 

Somehow, in a survival attempt to defeat my stress in that moment, the phrase came to me: “Do you remember your first business trip to New York?” I repeated it a few times, because I liked the way it sounded and I enjoyed the perspective it brought in that moment. This was my first business trip to New York, and it was shaping up to be a memorable one. 

Whether this trip lived in sentimentality or infamy was up to my ability to defeat my stress and stay focused. 

Everyone would be there. 3 times the artists (The Chainsmokers, ILLENIUM, Lennon Stella). 3 times the management, hair, makeup, and style. Friends of the bands, friends of the Vessel, friends of friends (of friends). All asking me questions. 

Most intimidatingly, the Commissioner of Music Videos for Columbia Records. I had produced three videos for The Chainsmokers before and had never seen him. Today, he was on site.

“Do you remember your first business trip to New York?”

I imagined myself as an older man being asked this question, and looking back on the moments I was experiencing right then. That question brought me so much peace and perspective. It reminded me that I’m building a life, not just working for it’s own sake. It reminded me that I’ll live through this experience, no matter how it goes.

A few deep breaths later and we were back to work. 

I finished up the next day at 12:30am. We began filming in only 5 hours. My alarm was going off in 4 hours. Way too soon, the alarm went off at 4:30am. We packed up and took a cab to the Vessel. 

The rest of the day was an absolute whirlwind. 

Radios beeped as I scanned the shot list, phones rang as I guided freelancers to their positions. The Chainsmokers’ helicopter to the Vessel from the airport got rained out, so they called a police escort at the last minute. They were going to be an hour late, so I pivoted to an alternate schedule I created and had ILLENIUM shoot instead. We cleared the Vessel to have Johnny FPV fly his drone through the passageways. Then we filled it back up to shoot The Chainsmokers running up the stairs. 

In the end, of course we made it. Nothing went too wrong, when things came up we adjusted, and when things were stressful I took a deep breath and reminded myself of my phrase. 

In the end, the Commissioner of Music videos said, “You run a tight ship Reese, I’m impressed.”

“Do you remember your first business trip to New York?”

Joshua Reese