Video director to Kasabian, Robbie, Macca...
Inside Knowledge: Charlie Lightening

Breaking down the barriers to expose the shadowy ways of the entertainment industry.

Inside Knowledge profiles some of the business’ key players and reveals practical tips for any wishing to follow them down that dark and dastardly path.
This issue, video director Charlie Lightening

Name: Charlie Lightening

Age: 33

Where are you from? Manchester, England.

Job title: Video Director

What are your qualifications?
Degree in Photo Media and running a company.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
The Face from The A-Team!

What was the first record you bought?
‘Flash Gordon’ by Queen.

What was your first big career break?
Directing Ronnie Wood’s solo DVD featuring Slash from Guns N’ Roses.

What has been your career path up til now?
In 2002 I directed Ronnie Wood’s live DVD featuring Slash. Soon after, I met William Baker, Kylie Minogue’s stylist. As a result, I began doing all of Kylie’s behind the scenes documentary footage, and eventually shot her underwear commercial for her Love Kylie lingerie line.

I then met Mike O’Keefe, the head commissioner at BMG, which is now Sony Music, who got me to shoot behind the scenes footage of the making of music videos. I began developing relationships with artists that I still have today.

In 2005 I met Kasabian, who had only put their first album out at the time, and began to work with them. That same year Lightening Productions was created, and we shot Feeder’s music video for ‘Shatter’ as well as went on the road with Jamiroquai. 2006 to 2007, we shot a documentary for Robbie Williams.

From 2007 till the present, I have continued to grow the company working with many artists in different genres.

Currently completing Kasabian’s live DVD shot at the Dublin O2 Arena as well as music videos from ‘West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum’ including
Underdog’, ‘Vlad (2010 version)’, and ‘Fast Fuse (International)’.

We are also currently shooting and editing a Paul McCartney documentary that is ongoing.

What does your job involve?
Documentary wise, it involves dealing directly with the artist, trying to capture a true, honest, and intimate likeness.

What is your average day?
It depends if I am shooting or editing that day or both. If I am editing, I come to the office at 8am, check e-mails, talk through with Alejandro Reyes-Knight, my business partner, about what needs to be achieved that day, and generally edit or oversee other edits that are going on the office. If I am shooting, my average day is not average. It has taken me all over the world and has allowed me to be privy to amazing situations and experiences.

What is the best thing about your job?
The diversity of what I do, from music videos to docs to live shows. It keeps it fresh so whatever project I am doing I am always meeting new people and having new experiences.

What is the worst thing about your job?
I don’t get to see my wife as much as I would like to.

Who have been the most challenging artists to direct?
All the people I’ve worked with have genuinely been really cool and easy to get on with, but I personally find it more challenging the more high profile the artists are because I feel pressured to create a higher standard of work that reflects the status of the artist.

What’s the most satisfying part of making a music video?
It is two things. It’s nailing a shot on set and knowing that you’ve done so. It’s amazing. Then it is seeing that shot and the rest of them put together and having it all making sense.

What to date is your proudest achievement in work?
To have had the opportunity to work with the people I work with, the artists I work for, to see the things I’ve seen, and, after five years, to be still running a successful company that has the opportunity to still go farther.

Is the music business a cut throat industry? If so, how do you survive?:
Yes. The industry has changed massively, and whereas before there was massive competition, they had bigger budgets and more opportunities. Now, there are less of those opportunities and less money. It is almost more competitive. I’ve been incredibly lucky, and I have been at the right place at the right time to be given opportunities, but with every one of them I have been given I have used the best of my abilities to move the company ahead, growing in experience.

What in your view is the future of the industry?
The true commodity a band will have will be concerts and live performances, and the records will serve as a promotion for the live experience.

How do you think your job will adapt in the future?
It will adapt technologically in terms of the way things filmed or captured, but the things that are inherent to the way I do things now will remain the same in terms of forming relationships and understanding an artist.

What are your career ambitions?
I would like to make some feature length music documentaries and branch out to making feature films within ten years, but overall to try to continue to enjoy the experience.

What are your top 5 tips for breaking into the industry?
1. Find out who it is that is making the things you like.
2. Research them and find their contact information.
3. Don’t be afraid to attempt to communicate with them, and even try and set up a meeting.
4. Be proactive.
5. Have confidence in your ideas and convictions.

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