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He's been on CMT more times in the last year than Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney or Shania Twain-and doesn't even have a record deal! He's video director Shaun Silva, the man behind the clips for Rascal Flatts' "I'm Movin' On," Darryl Worley's "Have You Forgotten?"-and 10, count 'em, 10 Kenny Chesney videos. Shaun got his start acting in commercials for Dr. Pepper, Zima, Levis and Mercury, before moving behind the camera to direct the video for Kenny Rogers' 1999 single "The Greatest." If you've ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at a video shoot, here's the lowdown from one of the most sought-after directors in Nashville. Q: What does a director do?
A: A music video director puts an image to a song, which is essentially a script. My job is to take that story and put a visual to it that doesn't take away from the song. If you put an image that takes away from the song, then you haven't done your job. Q: What are your favorite memories of working with Kenny Chesney?
A: The live stuff we do is incredible, like the video for "Live Those Songs Again." Suddenly I've got a camera strapped to my shoulder and I'm going out onstage, standing right next to him and feeling a blast of 20,000 people coming at me. It was absolutely amazing! Q: How long does the average video shoot last?
A: In country music, it's usually one day. Sometimes two days, but that has to be a much bigger budget. Kenny's [Chesney] are usually two-day shoots. We shoot his videos like I would shoot a feature film. I wish we could do that for every artist, but not everybody can afford it.
Q: How much does it cost to shoot a video?
A: An average budget is $75,000 to $80,000. If an artist has momentum, I think $100,000 should be a standard. But every label is different-one will spend more and do less videos, another will spend less and do more videos.
Q: How did you become the leading man in Terri Clark's video for "Girls Lie Too," which you also directed?
A: I thought, "If I could have anybody play this fantasy part, who would this woman be thinking about?" Two names came to my head: Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp. But I said, "There ain't a chance in the world that we're getting either of them." I'd just seen Pirates of the Caribbean, and my wife Shannon had dressed me up as that character [Capt. Jack Sparrow] for Halloween. I wouldn't want to pretend to be Johnny Depp, but I could pretend to be a character that he played. I sent a picture of me from Halloween to the label. Once Terri saw it, she said, "He has to play this part."
Q: What's the most unusual thing that's ever happened to you on a set?
A: It would have to be the helicopter crash on Kenny Chesney's "There Goes My Life" shoot [in 2003]. We were as high as a telephone pole, traveling 75 miles an hour, chasing this car that was being driven by a stuntwoman. It was myself, an aerial cinematographer and the pilot. We hit power lines and crashed. Split-second decisions made by the pilot saved our lives. But at the same time, we shouldn't have been where we were. It was a turning point in my life. It made me look at things a little differently. We should be happy for the lessons we learn in life, but that was a tough one to learn. I feel very blessed.
- WENDY NEWCOMER