By Terrah Baker
Mike Bertrand was 14 when his dad asked him to fill in for a camera guy at a local TV station in Louisiana. After helping out for awhile, he realized the power that came from controlling the camera, and he liked it.
“I realized I was in control of people’s perception of the situation, and I liked that. People can see things from my perspective and I thought that was cool. I got hooked at that point,” Bertrand said.
Today, he operates his own business that provides music videos and commercials for local and national musicians and companies. He primarily does music videos because he specializes in making quality work for little money — which independent bands need.
Lately, he’s been talking to advertising agencies about doing commercials using his signature approach which he said is hard to find in local video making.
“A lot of commercials that you see made locally are bright and flashy and kind of animated stuff and those are great for a lot of businesses, but a lot of businesses would also benefit from something more cinematic with a more realistic look to it,” he said.
Realistic cinema is what he specializes in. He tries to make every video top quality, using professional-style techniques, lighting, equipment, but often at a fraction of the cost.
“Say I want to do a driving scene, well, a car mantel can cost you thousands of dollars, or you can build one with a bike rack for 40 or 50 bucks,” he explained.
He said what keeps him going during hard times in the independent film industry is his passion for film and allowing people to see things through his perspective. And of course, looking back at the successful projects he’s already completed, like one for rapper/hip hop artist Black Feniks.
Feniks is a solo act that has been working tirelessly for several years making a name for his music, and getting a video was a huge part of that process, he said.
“It’s something that you need in order to touch different genres and everyone can see what you have to offer … It’s also to let people know that I’m serious about what I do. Me and my team want to invest in ourselves,” Fenik said.
Luckily, he didn’t have to invest too much. Bertrand got the video done for around $3,500. Other videos for bands like Scorned and Randall Shreve and the Sideshow cost under $1,200. Bertrand said he’s not making the type of money the guys in L.A. are, but for him it’s about producing quality material and doing what he loves.
This year, Bertrand has plans to shoot four music videos in Fayetteville, Chicago, Baton Rouge and Austin, and is planning a commercial shoot for later this month. To find out more about Bertrand and his videos, visit mikebertrand.net.