The Day Before
Pre-performance self-care tips to ensure a great show the next day.
Pre-performance self-care tips to ensure a great show the next day.
A story about how Madame Z discovered her secret makeup remover for stage makeup.
Cheap, non-toxic, and simple skin care tips using things you probably already have at home.
Trying to get a realistic and classic look on camera? It doesn’t take much.
A memory of Christmas with my teen art program in San Francisco.
An article about how we price our music video productions to best serve our artist clients & our creative crew.
A story about instantaneous inspiration on set with local videographer Kent Kessinger.
SKIP COFFEE THAT DAY
What?! No coffee! I’d rather jump off a building!
I know, I know… it sounds impossible. But it’s not the end of the world, I promise.
You might be tired at meetings, you might feel sluggish during your workout, but trust me – it’s worth it! And besides, it’s only one day. If you absolutely need caffeine, go with a green tea. (Not matcha though, that shit is basically crack).
Caffeine stays in your bloodstream, and has active effects on your heart, for up to 13 hours after your last sip. So if you finish coffee at 12pm, it’s raging in your system until 1am. Even if you go to bed before 1am, your body will be incapable of entering a deep sleep/ REM until after the caffeine wears off. Another issue is that even if you have caffeine early in the morning and finish your cup by say 9am, and you’re not worried about it interrupting your sleep, the caffeine will still enable you to do things that your body doesn’t have energy for naturally, thus draining your general energy and making you more tired on the day of your performance. Ideally, you’d want to skip caffeine the day before, and then have caffeine the day of. This would also allow the caffeine the day of to be a bit more effective versus just getting you back up to a consistently caffeinated state of almost-normal.
What are the benefits of skipping it?
You’ll notice that at the end of the day, you will be tired. Oh so very tired. Oh so very incredibly tired! This is a good thing. Tiredness is absolute gold the night before a performance or film shoot. Because sleep is the number one factor in a successful performance. If you are well-rested, you are more likely to give an on-point, energetic, and passionate performance, and you’ll enjoy the experience much more! Also… you will be able to get back to life as normal after the performance is over. This is something many people never talk about – feeling completely drained after a performance. If you’ve experienced this, like I have, chances are that you were not well-rested enough before your performance, and that the adrenalin of being on stage or on screen was the only thing that got you through it! Leaving your body completely depleted of all of its resources and energy reserve immediately after the performance was over.
I love espresso as much as the next Italian, but this makes a huge difference in my performance. My trick is - skip caffeine the day before, have caffeine the day of. Then the caffeine will be more effective, and you’ll get the sleep you need before the show.
Granny knows what she’s talking about - vitamins are the shit!
I personally have a vitamin calendar. It’s like a physical grid where I put different vitamins for all the days of the week. That’s how serious I am about vitamins, and that’s how I’m able to handle huge amounts of pressure and stress in a graceful and collected way. That’s how I’m able to lead a 9-person band with multiple dancers and conduct a cohesive performance without having an anxiety attack. It’s a lot to do. Vitamins give my body the nutrients it needs to manage my heart, my adrenals, my immune system, and any inflammation from dancing or playing violin.
Firstly, take all the essentials: Vit C, Vit E, Vit A, B-6, B-12, Magnesium, Calcium, (or just one multi-vitamin with all of that in it).
Secondly, take the anti-inflammatory ones: Glucosamine, MSM, Chondroitin (or just a joint complex).
Thirdly, take the immune-building ones: Elderberry, Turmeric, Ginger, Echinacea (or just an immunity supplement or drink an immunity tea).
Lastly, take an adrenal health vitamin complex. This will help lessen your current stress-levels and nervousness about your show, repair your adrenals from past stresses of the week, and greatly ease your nerves the day of your performance. Make sure to only take this in the mornings though! The gentle effects of revitalizing your adrenal glands can actually keep you up. But considering that you are skipping coffee today, if you take this in the morning you won’t feel that different. If anything, it will give you that little spark of energy that you usually get from coffee, but in a way that is actually useful to your body and not just constricting blood flow and raising your blood pressure (which is all that coffee does, essentially).
Your body needs hella vitamins just to avoid being malnourished. And it needs even more to be able to combat all of the toxins in our air and GMO foods etc. So unless you’re eating the rainbow and all 6 flavors every single day, which is incredibly difficult to keep up and keep track of, chances are you’re not getting them all. Taking vitamins regularly, or at the very least – just the day before your show – will give your body that extra boost of immune and well-rounded nutrient batch it needs to thrive on stage. It will help you avoid mishaps and miscommunications. It will help you cope with unexpected issues that can arise during a performance, and gracefully solve them without the audience ever knowing. Performance is an experience of heightened awareness, the chemistry of your body onstage is very similar to that of a rabbit being chased by a fox. It’s a high-stress environment, and also for that same reason, it’s extremely fun and challenging and pushes us to discover what we’re capable of in all the best ways. It’s like… an extreme sport, without any of the sportiness. Musicians and performers are mental athletes. Do what athletes do - take your vitamins. Coach’s orders ;)
AVOID INFLAMMATORY FOODS
Inflammatory foods will make your face puffy, your gut bloated, your feet swollen, and your skin saggy.
Give up these foods for even one day and you’ll look and feel 10 times better:
Watch out, here comes the list of foods to avoid (and it isn’t a short one!)
Certain Nuts: Peanuts, walnuts, pecans, cashews.
Dairy: Milk, cheese, yogurt.
Meat: Any meat at all, red or white. Rockfish & river fish are ok, but shellfish is a no-no.
Nightshades: Tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, and eggplant.
Gluten: Wheat, barley, farro.
So what can I eat?
Rice, beans, green veggies, salad, fish, avocado, olive oil, almonds, pistachios, sesame seeds, etc.
You can also find gluten-free pasta, bread, cereal, and dairy free cheese, milk, and yogurt.
My personal favorites are oat milk, almond yogurt, and tapioca cheese.
And what the hell do I make with all those random ingredients?
Sushi, vegan tacos, gluten free pasta, salmon caesar salad, curry, stir-fry, reach out and message me for more ideas!
Why no peanuts?
You’ll notice that after a full 24 hours of avoiding all the inflammatory foods, your mind will be sharper, your skin will be clearer, your face will look less puffy, your belly will be flatter, your joints will ache less, your digestion will be smoother…. Whatever ails you will improve and the inflammation throughout your body will subside. Whenever you’re performing, there are a lot of components to pay attention to, both on and off-screen/ on and off-stage. This 1-day-diet will allow you to be in your best physical and mental shape, enabling a better performance and a better mood throughout the process.
EAT AMINO ACIDS
You can find amino acids in soy-sauce form – sprinkle them on your salads, rice bowls, tacos, stir-fries, or mix with wasabi to accompany your sushi.
Why aminos? Amino acids are most commonly known for their effects on your muscles - rebuilding and replenishing tissues and fibers in your body, making you stronger and feel more stable on your feet. This is definitely important for performing, but it’s not the only good thing about aminos. Aminos are actually incredibly reparative for your skin! If you eat amino acids daily for even one week, you will notice your skin becoming healthier, more taught, and less wrinkly or saggy.
UNPLUG 3 HOURS BEFORE BEDTIME
Do not. Fall asleep. In front. Of your screen.
Why no screens?
Three things. One: The blue light of your screen suppresses melatonin, the chemical created in our bodies naturally to induce sleep hormones. Two: Even with a blue-blocker on (like Flux), or using the night-mode on your iphone, the mere brightness of your device can keep you up, the same way overhead lights in your house do versus lamps and low lighting. Three: Screens are addictive! Ask a doctor. It’s the same psychology as the moth being drawn to a light, even if it doesn’t give off any heat. Do not be that moth! Turn your shit off and go to sleep, you’re an artist, you have important work to do in the morning. If you are Netflixing until you fall asleep, you are pushing your eyes, your mind, and your body to the extreme outer limits of what is healthy.
Why 3 hours?
You’ll notice that once you disconnect from your screens that your brain will return to your present, and it is in your present that all of the things you forgot to do to prepare for your big day tomorrow – will arise. There were so many times that I was checking my phone or insta or watching netflix or whatever up until the moment I went to bed the night before a performance or film shoot, and each time my next day would be a huge jumble of stress and chaos. Each time, I would wake up realizing a bunch of things I meant to do to prepare – print out lead sheets, practice certain songs, pack certain elements of my costume – all of those little things that hang out in the back of your mind until it’s too late to do anything about them. And then, something fascinating happened – just for completely unrelated reasons, I started turning my phone, computer, everything off at 8 or 9pm, and it felt like… I had awoken from a dream. I had my mind back! Suddenly, after being unplugged about 20 minutes, all of these little details started popping up in my mind - little things that I wanted to do before my performance day, and now… I magically still had some time to do them! I could spend an hour catching up on little things, or packing my gear for the next day, and still have one hour for self-care, and maybe even one hour for winding down ~ like reading in bed or journaling over a cup of tea.
I actually discovered this on accident one night after a show at the Boom Boom Room in San Francisco with my college band. I got home late, with tons of mascara on my eyes, and had no makeup remover left. I was studying oil painting at the time, as a Fine Arts major, and had learned about solutions that dissolve oils. I was trying get creative and find a way to remove this mascara. Mascara, and generally all water-resistant makeups - are oil based. With most other makeup, like lipstick and blush, you can just use soap and water. But I wasn’t about to rub soap in my eyes still half-drunk at 3 am. No no no. I went to the kitchen to find something that would dissolve the mascara and allow it to come off my eyes pain-free, thus allowing me to finally go to bed.
And as it turns out… you can use olive oil. Yes, olive oil. That stuff you cook with and probably have in your cupboard somewhere.
Dab some olive oil on a cloth or cotton swab, close your eyes, and just wipe that mascara away. Then rinse your face with warm water.
Olive oil is, obviously, oil based, but it is a more liquid substance than mascara. The olive oil bonds with the oil in the mascara, freeing it from the base of your skin and allowing it to be absorbed by a cloth and wiped away.
That’s my little Italian magic trick, and it works every time. I’ve been using olive oil as a makeup remover after film shoots and performances for a decade now. And the best part is — it’s actually great for your skin. See my previous post on Skin Care down below for more details.
I wash my face with hot water, like pretty dang hot to melt the oils and they can actually wash out of my pores. This is literally the only thing I do externally to my skin. Everything else is internal.
THE GOOD OILS
I eat a lot of olive oil. Like on everything. You can even put it on chocolate ice cream if you want, it’s so good! Easiest is salad… I just drizzle pure olive oil and balsamic vinegar on salad with a little salt. I also eat avocados, salmon, olives, seeds, and nuts. These food are rich in Omega 3s which repair and revitalize your skin!
The great thing about amino acids is that it can easily be used as a substitute for sooooo many things you already eat. You can sub salt, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and other seasoning with amino acids. You can put it on a salad instead of balsamic, in a veggie curry, on rice, with sushi, you can cook meat or veggies with it instead of salt. Amino acids go to work in your body – many people already know that they repair your muscles after working out, making you stronger and more physically capable. But they also repair your skin cells and re-hydrate the cells beneath your skin’s surface, making it more elastic and full and alive. Amino acids literally make you look younger, to put it plainly.
I look my best when I sleep at least 8 hours. Before a film shoot, try and see if you can possibly get 9 hours of sleep the night before. PRIORITIZE IT! It’s so worth it.
We can’t control the pollution around us, but we can control whether or not we pollute our bodies. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink coffee on a daily basis (it’s more like a once-a-week treat), and I try to eat all organic produce if I can. Farmer’s markets give you the best deals on organic veggies, and you’re supporting them directly and creating community. The community vibe also adds to the general joy in your life, and therefore… the glow of your skin! Natural Beauty is a lifestyle - love what you do and you’ll live forever. Or at least look like you’ll live forever ;)
KEEP IT NATURAL, BABY!"
Pale natural eye shadow with a little sparkle, eyeliner small cat-eye, and thin dark brown mascara.
This is my go-to. It's simple, elegant, and easy to do ~ which makes it sustainable.
A bright red lipstick, blotted till completely dry so it leaves a little stain, then a clear coat of chapstick to keep my lips moist and give them a subtle shine.
I blot a little of that red lipstick on my finger, then dab it on my cheek bones and rub it in. Simple, and you can get away with just carrying a lipstick or even a colored chapstick in your bag when you're doing interviews or more intimate shows.
If you’re filming in a brightly-lit environment, powder your nose! Use some anti-sheen powder so that you don’t have light glaring on the tip off your nose and distracting from your facial expressions.
That’s it! That’s all the makeup I use in my films: eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick. Occasionally an anti-sheen powder on my nose, but I usually just prefer to set my films in either low-lit spaces or shoot during dawn or dusk when the natural light is more even. This fair better for everyone in your film, and gives a more even color scheme to the footage.
I stay away from foundation and coverup creams - the camera picks up these layers and unless you have a perfect color match and texture match, it’s gonna make your face look fake. But of course a big part of being able to avoid foundation, you’ll need a good skin care routine. I’ll post my skin care tips in another post, you won’t believe how simple it is, and it’s probably the opposite of what the skin care industry tells you you “need” to do for your healthy skin. One hint: it’s mostly on the inside.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below if you found this helpful or want to share your own tricks.
Every year throughout high school and college, Ronald Chase and the Art & Film team would throw a big party Christmas Party for their students and alumni. Art & Film For Teens is a program in SF that introduces teens to high art in a big way. They take (or took, as in before Covid) teens to the symphony, the opera, the ballet, modern dance performances, the city’s museums and art galleries, the cinema, and would even host their own film screenings of classic films and modern masterpieces. But most importantly — they opened discussions about the work at every event, training students to not only take in art as consumers, but to form their own opinions, develop their own taste, and make intellectual connections between works and artists throughout history. This program was a huge influence on my own work and life as an artist, and I continue to participate in the program as an alumnus and a patron.
The Twelfth Night Party always occurred on a Saturday roughly 2 weeks after Christmas. There was a live classical quartet or a jazz trio, sometimes both: one in each room. There was a giant Christmas tree covered in single Poinsettia flowers, strings of white lights, and three-dimensional Gothic buildings that Ronald had handcrafted himself with paper and ink. The students, parents, mentors, and alumni would often arrive in costume — something frilly, something French, something black, something poetic. There was eggnog, apple cider, and Martinelli’s for the little ones. There was a giant cake, so tall that it leaned like the tower of Pisa. And somewhere hidden inside the cake was a large dry bean. Later in the evening at the cutting of the cake, Ronald would make an announcement about the bean, warning people to chew carefully.
Whoever finds the bean will be King or Queen for the night!"
He’d say, holding a paper crown to bestow upon our winner.
Eat meticulously," Huntly would chime in, "and for heaven’s sake, don’t swallow the bean!”
This bean-for-the-win idea was based on the old English tradition of Twelfth Night, where Kings would dress as peasants and vice versa at the end of a 12 day festival following Christmas. The festival originally started on Hallow’s Eve, hence the dressing up, and marked the end of harvest and the beginning of winter. The church appropriated this concept in the 19th Century to allow for Christmas festivities to carry on longer than just Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
At the very end of the party, most of the students and parents would leave, and only a few of us long-term mentors and alumni would be left. We’d help clean, gather plates and cups, put things away, and restore Ronald’s art studio back to a functional space. Before we’d leave… someone would always beg Ronald to play a song on the Harpsichord. And he always would, but it had to be at the end of the party. The harpsichord looks like a piano, but it is nothing like it. The keys are in a different order, so whatever you thought you knew on piano would sound completely ridiculous on a harpsichord. The sound is very different because where the piano has hammers that hit the strings within, the harpsichord has plectrums that pluck the strings, and for that reason it is much quieter. If Ronald would play it in a room full of people, you would barely be able to hear it, especially if people were talking. It was a small and quiet moment we all shared — shutting up around the harpsichord — but it left me with a feeling of peace and tranquility that I’d take with me on my walk home through the mission to my parents house, hearing the trills of the keys fade into the night sky above.
Merry Christmas Art & Film, thank you so much for hosting some of the most enriching memories of my young adult life.
You can learn more about the program at artandfilm.org
If you look around, you'll find that our prices are competitive and that we offer more art for your buck in terms of the professional creativity that goes into our videos.
It can cost from $5,000-$10,000 for low budget music video productions or up to $100-200K or even $300K on a high end." ~ Adjust Production Blog
Fees are usually per production day. Most production companies do 10-12 hour long film shoots, are extremely costly, and frankly these long days are unhealthy for the crew and the musicians who are starring in the production.
As an Italian-American, I think my fellow Americans have it all wrong. People simply don't produce good work after 6 hours. We strain our bodies and minds to create work we'll just have to undo later on. I used to do 8-10 hour film shoots, but we all (me, my crew, the cast, & the clients) would get grumpy and too tired to make good decisions after the 6 hour mark. Why push it? Making a music video is a special moment in your career. It should be fun!"
~Justine Lucas, Producer & Director at Madwoman
A Madwoman shoot day is between 6-8 hours. That applies to either pre-production, on set, or post-production. A typical music video needs at least one day of pre-production (story dev & concept), one or two days of production (film shoots), and then several days of post-production (editing) to create a polished end-product. We value our team and care about having good vibes and a fun experience on set for our crew and for our music artist clients. Our shorter days allow us to offer lower prices to musicians than our competitors, and have a more energized creative output.
Below is a list of all of the production services and creative roles that go into making our videos.
Story & Concept Development*
Coordinating & Communications*
Script & Storyboard Creation *
Costume Theme or Design *
Sourced or Custom Costumes
Camera Operators *
Production Assistant *
Hair & Makeup
Video Editor *
* Required for any production
“Kent!” I shouted from behind the other cameramen, “Are you ok?!”
“Yeah,” he exclaimed from the floor, “I’m just getting the right shot!”
And that was it. That shot added a new dimension to the climax of the film that established a larger-than-life feeling for the world of these characters.
That particular shot was only used for a fraction of a second, but it puts the viewer in a new place - between the conductor and the band. Throughout the rest of the film, the conductor (and actual co-composer of the song) Jonah Udall had only been an mysterious silhouette until this point in the film.
While I had created an entire storyboard for this film for Kent to shoot from, there were some things that I never would have thought of. Only an experienced videographer like Kent would look at the shot through the view finder and think… No, this should be weirder. And that’s why we love him!
It’s important to have a well-thought out and well-planned vision before doing a film shoot, especially when it involves an entire big bag. You want to honor their time for showing up and performing! But also… recognize when someone in the team has a fresh idea in the moment, and honor that inspiration. That’s how artists grown, and that’s how art evolves.
Keep it fresh, Keep it inspired, and Keep it real.