Behind the Scenes of Hooked Up by James WesleyIn late May and early June I spent two and half weeks in Morehead City, NC serving as Director of Photography on the music video “Hooked Up” featuring country artist James Wesley. The focus was on crafting imagery that highlighted the beauty of the open ocean and the essence of the deep sea fishing culture. The artistry of the boats, the beauty of the barrier islands that dot the eastern North Carolina landscape along with the love and passion that the coastal culture share with all that visit was a major inspiration to me. When we first began planning and scouting the shoot earlier this year, we knew that aerial cinematography would play a major role in the creation of the video yet I also wanted the entire video to feel fluid and natural so we planned the use of dolly, jib and gimbal to be heavily in play for the entire shoot.

Capturing the Performance

aerial-morehead-city-hooked-upReally the bulk of the music video “Hooked Up” was shot over the course of 3 days where we had a full crew along with 2 Red Dragons and a Red Scarlett in play for the majority of the performance sequences with James and his band including the night live concert portion. Planning for that was a bit complicated due to the fact that it was a live concert, at night, in a somewhat uncontrollable location where we had 3 attempts at capturing everything we needed for the video due to the fact that because it was a live audience, we couldn’t bore them by playing the same song repeatedly over the course of the evening. Add to that the fact that the jib moved position 3 times as the dolly track and setup were moved along with an Octocopter flying overhead capturing epic aerials of the Downtown Morehead City streets swarming with crowds and you can see how epic and stressful that portion of the shoot ended up being. By the end of the evening though, we captured what I believe to be some gorgeous concert footage with a number of unique perspectives.

IMG_1152On the Open Ocean

Once we wrapped the main portion of the shoot, we spent the better part of the following week and a half filming the lifestyle segments of the video. This is where the true test of my love of this business developed. I have spent many days filming on inland boats but we ended up 30 – 40 miles off shore in, what I assume is small , 4 foot swells with an Octocopter flying a Red Dragon over the open ocean with a landing zone the size of a 6×6 blanket spread across the bow of the charter boat we were on. But that wasn’t the worst part, after the 2.5 hour journey both the pilot, Michael Gentilini Jr. and myself developed a lovely case of sea sickness. I believe that a few people on that boat thought we were done for and perhaps even suggested we throw in the towel but I’m proud to say we persevered, captured some of our best aerial work to date in between visits to the stern.

Of course that was the first of numerous off shore shoot days where I struggled just to keep my balance, stomach straight and still capture solid footage. Some how I lived to tell about it and now we get to share the end result.

I’m proud of what we accomplished and excited to see what everyone thinks of “Hooked Up”. The video is embedded below or you can head on over to to check out the premiere of “Hooked Up” by James Wesley.

Hooked Up 
Preformed by: James Wesley
Written by: Todd Morris & Harry Smith
Directed by: Alex Manning
Director of Photography: James Suttles
Production Company: Elements Studio
Produced by: Todd Morris, Chris Pardue
Aerial Cinematography by: Vidmuze Aerial Cinema – Michael Gentilini, Jr & Ryan Atkins
Chief Lighting Technician: Greg Hudgins
Camera Operator: Tripp Green
1st AC/DIT: Kevin Church
1st AD: Zack Torres
The Man: Jordan Holliday
Along with many others…

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