My Spec Music Video Treatments

Below are four spec Music Video treatments. The first three songs have been generously provided by my friend Michael Bornheim, and are copywrited by Monkeytown Music. The fourth song is by Mason Williams from his album "The Mason Williams Ear Show" (1968).

To hear the songs, please press the play button.

video

“CLOSER TO THE TRUTH”
PROPOSED VIDEO TREATMENT
Edward Neil Bowen

We open on a long establishing shot of the exterior of a small rural roadhouse at night. A sign tells is that this place is called “Pop’s.” The camera dollies slightly to add movement to the static scene. We play this location as being somewhere outside Shreveport, Louisiana. The large gravel parking lot is mostly empty. Spanish moss draped from the surrounding oak trees sways in a light breeze. A neon sign reading “Open” goes dark as we hear the instrumental intro of the song begin, distant and bass-heavy as if playing from within the road house.

We cut to the interior of the roadhouse, and the locale is this – One open room, with wooden floor, walls, rafters, and supports. A bar runs along one wall; a mirror and lots of neon behind. There is a small stage, unoccupied, in one corner, with a small dance floor in front. A pool table occupies a back corner. Tables and chairs fill the rest of the space. Staff are cleaning up and piling the chairs up on the tables. An attractive YOUNG WOMAN is closing out the register, and an older, somewhat grizzled man (POP) is straightening up behind the bar. They are father and daughter, a fact we might never be told, but informs the way they interact.

However, we don’t see any of this yet. All we see is an extreme close-up of a harmonica being lifted to the player’s lips. He begins to play, continuing the instrumental intro. The music is now clearer and brighter, but still sounds live to the room, and will throughout the video.

We pull back from the HARMONICA PLAYER, revealing more of the room, and THE BAND sitting casually in a circle, on chairs and barstools, facing each other. After a night of playing covers of songs they don’t particularly like, they are playing this song for the sheer joy of it, and enjoying every minute. The lyric begins, but we don’t yet see the singer. Instead, we circle the band, seeing one member after another, intercut with reactions from the others in room, who keep working, but are listening, and appreciating.

First time I saw that L.A. freeway was from a Greyhound outtta Shreveport
And it was good to be alive
But then every face I met looked like some movie star who hadn’t happened yet
With desperation in their eyes

Finally, we have seen each band member, and reveal THE SINGER.

They’d say nobody cares about nobody
But they all tell you that they do
With every dirty hand you shake and every lucky break

We see that the YOUNG WOMAN in particular is listening intently.

You get closer to the truth

THE SINGER glances over to catch the YOUNG WOMAN’S eye. She goes back to the job at hand, smiling slightly, coyly. THE SINGER turns back toward the band members and continues.

Then I learned how the neon lights can lure a country boy to those streets at night
And make him lose his mind
How money’s blood and blood is ink they’ll tell you what to say they’ll tell you what to think
When you sign that bottom line


The camera continues to move for close-ups of the band members, revealing that they recognize the truth of the lyrics, intercut with close-ups of THE SINGER, the camera constantly moving.

And nobody cares about nobody
But they all tell you that they do
With all the lies and ties that don’t quite bind
You get closer to the truth

We cut to a wider shot of the room, seeing the whole band, tracking past the supports and tables.
People smile and say hello just to find out who you know
Most don’t stay long enough to say so long


THE SINGER turns sharply toward the YOUNG WOMAN, and what he sings stops her in her tracks. She looks up from the register and listens with care and emotion. POP watches her reaction.

Girl I remember what you said the day I up and left
How I could’ve had your heart for a song

We begin again to circle the band, moving from one member to the next, mirroring the move earlier in the video, but quicker this time, and ending on an empty chair where the SINGER once sat.

So here I am rollin’ down this lonesome Texas highway outta L.A.
Just glad to be alive

We see that THE SINGER has gone over to the register, has taken the YOUNG WOMAN by the hand, and is pulling her toward the tiny dance floor. At first she is embarrassed and reluctant, but soon she slides into the comfortable fit of his arms, and they sway gently together, smiling, as he continues to sing.

To think there was a time I saw my face up on some billboard sign
And thought happiness was my name up in lights

POP throws a bar towel over his shoulder, leans on the bar and watches the dancers happily. He glances at a nearby framed photo of himself as a much younger man, his wife, and a little girl in their arms, standing in front of the roadhouse.

Where nobody cares about nobody
And they all tell you that they do

THE SINGER and the YOUNG WOMAN continue to dance. The band members smile and continue to play.

Thank God I’m headed homeward back to you gettin’ closer to the truth
I’m finally headin’ homeward back to you closer to the truth

During the instrumental close, THE SINGER spins the WOMAN and dips her, slightly and gently. As the song ends he pulls her back up from the dip, their faces coming very close, their eyes locked for a long moment.

YOUNG WOMAN (Quietly, smiling): Welcome back.
SINGER (Quietly, smiling back): It’s good to be home.

There is one quiet beat before they’re interrupted by the sound of scattered applause and even a bit of hooting from the band members. Everyone laughs as we cut back to the exterior, and hear the band start up another tune.

So, what is this all about? It’s about reconnecting with friends and family and loved ones, and with values and ideals. Consider it the last scene of a movie where the hero is tempted by the glitz and glamour of the big city, only to finally realize the error of his ways, and return home to his friends, his girl, his music, and to what’s really important in life.

video

“HARBOR FOR YOUR HEART”
PROPOSED VIDEO TREATMENT
Edward Neil Bowen

First, before we get started, think about the sensation of floating. Through the use of softly drifting camera moves, and slow motion effects, and the layering of shimmering images, and undulating water used as a transition and texture, this is the sensation we should get from the video.

The video takes place in two locales. One is a big city with coastal exposure, such as Chicago; the other a small idyllic town with a harbor on a bay or ocean. The city images are blue, and cold, and sterile; the small town images are warm, and bright, and cluttered.

We open, before the song begins, in a loft apartment, exposed brick walls, hardwood floor, stylishly minimal furniture, and windows looking out over a large night time cityscape. The room is mostly dark. A beautiful WOMAN enters, business dress loosened for comfort, a glass of wine in one hand. She seems bone tired as she crosses to a small tasteful desk, sits, and turns on the monitor of a computer. The light from the monitor illuminates weary, perhaps sad eyes. She opens an e-mail. The message reads simply “I wrote this for you.” There is an audio file attached. The WOMAN hesitates, then plays the file as she leans lithely back in the desk chair and listens. As the song begins, we are in a wide shot of the room, with lots of negative space to one side of the frame. In this space appears a sunlit close-up of the SINGER, layered softly over the image. He sings -

Girl I’ve always known
That someday you’d set sail out on your own

Water begins to pour down over the image. Through a DISSOLVE we see that this water cascades over a piece of sculpture in the elaborate lobby of a large office building. The SINGER disappears momentarily as we pan to follow the WOMAN, dressed in expensive business wear, as she enters the lobby with other workers, heading toward the bank of elevators. As the pan settles, we see the SINGER once again, in a soft edged split screen. Behind him, we can glimpse sunlight reflecting off the water of a harbor. He sings -

Now that your ship’s come in

Again, water, this time gently undulating, covers both images, and the lobby and the SINGER disappear. We are looking straight down at the patterns of light in a swimming pool. The WOMAN, her eyes closed, floats slowly though the frame on her back, lost in thought.

Chances are you won’t be back again

As the WOMAN floats out of frame, she is replaced by the CLOSE-UP of the SINGER, transparent over the patterns in the water. He sings -

Once you catch that wind

We CUT to a wide shot of the indoor swimming pool, on an upper floor of an expensive building, large windows overlooking the city. The WOMAN stands at the windows, pulling a terrycloth robe over her wet swimsuit.. We CUT to a close-up as rain begins to cascade down the foreground glass.

This old town don’t have a thing to hold you here but me

As the WOMAN exits, we shift focus to the rain pouring over the glass window. Sunlight appears, illuminating the SINGER reflected in the glass, ghostly. He sings -

But I want you to know I’ll always be

The SINGER turns. We pick him up full frame in CLOSE-UP as he begins to sing the chorus. The CAMERA pulls back to reveal him standing on the dock of a small town harbor. As he continues to sing, the CAMERA cranes upward, revealing the harbor and the small southern town beyond.

CHORUS
A harbor for your heart
Wherever you are


DISSOLVE to a downward view of water. An old sailboat glides through, leaving the water to once again fill the frame.

If you find yourself out drifting too far from the shore

DISSOLVE to the SINGER (he’s not singing at this point), steering the boat past the coastline, the wind biting at his face.

And you can’t see the moon and stars

In a long shot, the boat drifts past a picturesque lighthouse.

My love will be your lighthouse in the dark

The SINGER appears in a soft split screen, layered over the previous image, and sings –

And a harbor for your heart

FADE OUT, then IN to early morning sunlight shimmering on a body of water. The WOMAN enters, walking in the cold of the morning, along the big city shoreline.

Now girl don’t look so sad

The SINGER appears again in a soft split screen, and sings –

Be glad we had these good times and don’t look back

We lose focus on the SINGER as the WOMAN passes out of the frame. The image of the SINGER disappears as we DISSOLVE to textured, opaque glass. We dolly along the glass until an opening reveals an upscale conference room. The WOMAN is in a meeting with lots of suits. She seems uncomfortable and distracted.

There’ll be angry seas to cross
You’ll need to hold onto the wheel when you’re feeling tossed


We move past a wall that obscures our view, and DISSOLVE to the CLOSE-UP of the SINGER. He passes through the frame, matching the movement of the previous dolly, as he sings -

And if you get lost

Again we DISSOLVE to water. The WOMAN’S face emerges in slow motion. We CUT wide to reveal she’s in a bath. She slides up to a sitting position, and stares ahead, lost in thought. A man in a bath robe passes through the foreground, leaving the bathroom.

I know that you can find some other friendly port

In a CLOSE-UP of the WOMAN, we see the signs of a sudden decision cross her features.

But know that if you’re ever looking for

CUT to a CLOSE-UP of the WOMAN, smiling slightly, sunlight casting a warm glow over her face, wind pushing the hair back from her features.

CHORUS
A harbor for your heart


We pull back and crane up to reveal that she is on the deck of a ferry boat. She is dressed casually, comfortably and warmly.

Wherever you are

As THE CAMERA circles the ferry, an image of the SINGER appears, layered over. He sings –

If you find yourself out drifting too far from the shore
And you can’t see the moon and stars


The ferry passes the same lighthouse we saw earlier.

My love will be your lighthouse in the dark

The other images fade, and are replaced by a soft split screen, the WOMAN to one side, the SINGER to the other, as he sings -

And a harbor for your heart

FADE OUT, and IN. The SINGER is working on his boat in the harbor, cleaning, stowing (He’s not singing at this point, and does not for the rest of the video.) Behind him a long row of masts lean and rock in the breeze. We CUT to the WOMAN, riding in the back of a taxi. The window is down and the fresh breeze reddens her cheeks.

We CUT back to the SINGER, still working on the boat, then to a wide shot of the taxi weaving its way through the small coastal town. As the taxi passes, we boom upward to see the harbor in the near distance, and the taxi heading toward it. We CUT back to the SINGER. He’s finished up, standing on the dock, buttoning his coat against the afternoon chill. He turns to leave and is stopped by something he sees. At the land end of the dock, partially obscured by the setting sun, a taxi is pulling away. The WOMAN is standing there, a suitcase on the ground beside her. The SINGER shades his eyes, and sees who it is. She begins to walk toward him and him toward her. They meet in the middle of the dock. Neither says a word. He reaches out to touch her face, and she falls into his arms, as the CAMERA cranes upward to see the dock, the harbor, and the town, ending with a view of the ocean beyond.

My love will be your lighthouse in the dark
And a harbor for your heart
A harbor for your heart


video

“WHAT’LL EVERYBODY SAY”
PROPOSED VIDEO TREATMENT
Edward Neil Bowen

BEFORE THE SONG BEGINS

We open on a wide, low, distorted establishing shot of an isolated convenience store, thirty years past its prime, a giant dirt parking lot stretching out in front. Tinny Musak plays out of aging speakers. A beat up pick up is parked at the gas tanks. The camera speeds across the parking lot, past the truck, to stop right in front of the store’s doors as the SINGER exits. He pauses, squinting against the sunlight, and we freeze the image.

He’s a bit on the slovenly side, unshaven, unkempt, various stains on various items of clothing, and a bit of a paunch that is emphasized by the low angle of the camera. There’s something of the look of a spaghetti western to the SINGER’S stance and the CAMERA ANGLE. The camera rapidly zooms into the frozen image to isolate the half eaten Slim Jim in his hand, as if it were an unholstered gun in a shootout.

INSTRUMENTAL INTRO

We zoom rapidly back out and resume motion as a convertible blasts into the foreground and slides to a halt right front of the SINGER. He blinks at the cloud of dust and dirt the car throws across his face. From his point of view, we see through the dust a blurry figure behind the wheel of the convertible. The dust settles and his vision clears to reveal a BEAUTIFUL woman, preferably a well-known model or actress. We ramp zoom into the SINGER’S surprised expression and then ramp zoom in to the WOMAN”S come hither smile and wink, which seem to hit the SINGER like a splash of cold water in the face. The Slim Jim falls in slow motion to the dusty ground. We begin to pull back from a smiling CLOSE-UP of the SINGER to a full shot, revealing that he is now clean-shaven, neatly dressed, tidy, fashionable, and has shed the gut.

CRASH CUT to the convertible’s wheels digging into the dirt as it guns out of the parking lot.

FIRST VERSE

CRASH CUT to a close-up of the SINGER. He’s in the passenger side of the convertible. As he sings, we pull back and high to reveal the WOMAN driving, and eventually to view the entire convertible, careening down a country road. Between each line we edit in a quick cut or two of a telling detail of the WOMAN: a provocative piercing, a tattoo peeking from her belt line, bright red lips laughing, bright blue eyes, a beauty spot, a fallen bra strap, her hand on his thigh, blonde hair whipping in the wind, the WOMAN downing whisky from a bottle, etc.

I pulled into the Stop and Go
Bought a Slim Jim’s some gas gonna head back home
When a blonde haired blue eyed girl pulled up next to me
She flashed me a smile and gave me wink
Before I even had time to think

The car speeds past a road sign that reads “New Orleans – 379 Miles” The wake of the car catches the sign, rattles it, spins it, and knocks it to the ground.

I was ridin’ shotgun and half way to New Orleans

CHORUS

CRASH CUT to another CLOSE-UP of the SINGER. We CUT WIDE to reveal that he is standing on the hood of the speeding automobile, singing, the wind whipping at his clothes, holding onto his hat lest it fly away. The WOMAN bobs and weaves in her seat to the music as she drives.

What’ll Everybody Say
How in the hell am I gonna explain

The convertible swerves to pass a flat bed semi. On the bed of the semi is the rest of THE BAND, playing. For a moment, as the convertible passes the semi, it almost appears as if the SINGER and the BAND are on the same stage together.

This temporary lapse in sanity
My morals and alibis are gettin’ weak
It’s too late to turn back now
There’s no way I’m slowin’ down
If I make it home the wife will have ‘em put me away


The WOMAN hits the accelerator with a stiletto heeled, toenail polished foot. The car lurches ahead, and the SINGER falls back into the passenger seat and into a CLOSE-UP.

What’ll Everybody Say

We CUT BACK to the BAND on the semi as they play the instrumental bridge.

SECOND VERSE

We CUT back to the SINGER (He’s not singing on camera for this verse). He glances down to watch the WOMAN shift gear, causing her skirt to rise.

Her black leather skirt was ridin’ up her thigh

They race past a speed limit sign and a whisky bottle shatters against it.

She broke a whiskey bottle on a speed limit sign

The WOMAN twists the steering wheel hard and the car bounds off the highway onto a rutted dirt road.

Dust was flyin’ as we tore down that ol’ dirt road

Dust and dirt are pouring over the top of the windshield like water over a dam.

Well it must have been the look on my face

The WOMAN is laughing hysterically. The SINGER gives her a worried look.

That made her laugh when she slammed on the brakes

She slams on the breaks and the SINGER jolts forward. As dust settles we see a sign that says “Carson County Gorge – Road Closed.”

Hell a blind man could see right where this was gonna go

CHORUS

She hits the accelerator again and the car bucks forward. The SINGER holds on for dear life as he sings -

What’ll Everybody Say
How in the hell am I gonna explain


The car flies along the old dirt road. The WOMAN whoops and hollers and laughs.

This temporary lapse in sanity
My morals and alibis are gettin’ weak

The car blasts through an old wooden barricade. The SINGER looks, and sees just ahead a huge gorge opening up as the car speed toward it.

It’s too late to turn back now
There’s no way I’m slowin’ down


The WOMAN takes her hands off the wheel, grabs the SINGER and kisses him square on the mouth as the car lurches over the lip of the gorge.

If I make it home the wife will have ‘em put me away
What’ll Everybody Say


BRIDGE

Viewed from the hood of the car, we see the SINGER, singing the bridge, and the WOMAN, laughing and whooping, as the car drops toward the bottom of the gorge.

I’ve always been a victim of an active imagination

We cut to a view from the back of the car. The SINGER turns in his seat facing backwards toward the CAMERA, up on his knees, singing.

I had a wild weekend…

Suddenly, the CAMERA stops in midair and the car continues away from the camera toward the bottom of the gorge, receding quickly to nothing but a dropping dot.

… and never left the fillin’ station

There is a puff of dust, like in a Road Runner Cartoon, as the car hits the bottom.

INSTRUMENTAL BRIDGE

The half eaten Slim Jim hits the dirt parking lot of the Stop and Go. We pull rapidly back to reveal the SINGER, once again slovenly and paunchy. He shakes himself out of his stupor and notices something happening in the parking lot. A dust cloud blows across, leaving behind the BAND and the SINGER (the good looking, neat, and tidy one). They finish the instrumental bridge and the SINGER starts the chorus.

CHORUS
What’ll Everybody Say
How in the hell am I gonna explain


There is lots of high energy editing and camera work as the Chorus continues. The slovenly SINGER circles the band, watching, scratching his head, looking around for someone who can confirm what he is seeing. There is no one else around.

This temporary lapse in sanity
My morals and alibis are gettin’ weak


The slovenly SINGER comes face to face with his alter ego, and begins to sing with him.

It’s too late to turn back now
There’s no way I’m slowin’ down

They stand side by side, singing together. The slovenly SINGER is a bit uncoordinated as he moves to the music.

If I make it home the wife will have ‘em put me away
What’ll Everybody Say


The music ends. With the last reverberation of the guitar, the dust cloud reappears and sweeps across them, obscuring them all from view. When it recedes, only the slovenly SINGER remains behind, confused. He takes a beat, starts to dance as if the music were still playing. When it doesn’t start back up again, he kicks at the dirt dejectedly and heads back toward his truck.

video

“SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE WORLD”
PROPOSED VIDEO TREATMENT
Edward Neil Bowen

BEFORE THE SONG BEGINS

We open on a very wide, high establishing shot of a theater’s proscenium arch, old fashioned, elaborately decorated, taller than it is wide. Dark red velvet curtains hang down blocking the stage. A single microphone stand with microphone sits at the center of the lip. Behind it is a single stool. The SINGER enters from the wings. A spotlight follows him as he crosses to the stool, carrying a guitar. He sits on the stool, takes a moment to get comfortable, checks the tune of the guitar, checks the microphone, clears his throat, and begins to play.

GUITAR INTRO

The CAMERA swoops slowly down toward the SINGER as he plays. It comes to rest in a full shot of the stage itself.

ORCHESTRA ENTERS

The curtains open to reveal a small orchestra behind just as they begin to play. The stage itself is bare, and we can see a large closed loading dock door behind the orchestra. The CAMERA moves forward to a medium shot of the SINGER.

FIRST CHORUS

He sings the first chorus (“It’s a Saturday night at the world …”), and as it ends (“When you seek all the answers in one”) the doors at the back of the stage swing open; it’s almost as if the entire back of the building opens up. Outside is an idyllic small town square at dusk. Stings of lights have been hung, creating a glowing canopy over the plaza. A temporary carousel has been set up as the centerpiece. Children ride it, going round and round. People are milling about in the festive atmosphere, every one dressed warmly for a brisk winter’s evening.

FIRST VERSE

As the SINGER begins the first verse (“But her voice seemed to answer the echoing silence”), the CAMERA begins to push forward toward the back of the stage, and the SINGER travels with it, remaining in a medium shot. The orchestra risers split, pivot and part, making room for the SINGER and the CAMERA to float toward the open doors.

SECOND CHORUS

The SINGER and the CAMERA exit the back of the stage as the SINGER begins the second chorus (“It’s a Saturday night at the world”). They float out into the square and among the celebrants, circling the carousel, the SINGER always occupying the foreground, floating along with the moving CAMERA. As they come around the carousel full circle, we see the orchestra, now occupying a band shell. The theater we exited from earlier is nowhere to be seen.

SECOND VERSE

As the SINGER begins the second verse (“And her eyes seemed with silver…”), he and the CAMERA float upward for a bird’s eye view of the square.

THIRD VERSE

As the SINGER begins the third and final verse (“And her love seemed to offer a sojourn…”), the people who have been milling about suddenly couple and break into a choreographed, synchronized waltz. It begins to lightly snow. The SINGER and the CAMERA drop gently toward the band shell. As the verse ends (“…and losing the same”) the SINGER and the CAMERA settle, with the SINGER appearing to now stand on the bandstand before the orchestra. A microphone on a stand slides in from off frame to position itself before the now stationary SINGER.

THIRD CHORUS

The Singer sings the third and final chorus (“It’s a Saturday night at the world…”) standing before the orchestra. As he finishes (“When you seek all the answers in one”), the CAMERA pushes past him. A horn player stands in CLOSE-UP and plays the final solo. As the song winds down, the CAMERA pans 180 degrees to see the SINGER, carrying his guitar, walking across the now deserted square. It is still snowing, and as he walks away, the lights go out in a receding cascade.

FADE OUT