The Rocks Off 200: Rachel Bays, Filming Them Softly

Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the original Rocks Off 100 at this link.

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Photo by Jonathan Conner
Rachel Bays standing in for a lighting check at the Tim Kasher shoot
Who? Recently, the Houston Press took a good look at the people in Houston who direct music videos for some top local acts. One of the standouts on that list was Rachel Bays of Cymatic Pictures, who directed the video for Adam Bricks's melancholy "Kristmas." The video all but fell into our laps and showed great promise, making Bays high on the list of folks we want to see more from.

She got started thanks to Buxton's Chris Wise, who invited her to a CD release party eight years ago. It was the first local show that Bays had ever been to, and she was floored by the crowd's manic energy. More importantly, she wondered why no one was filming such a spectacle.

Since then she's made it a point to be the girl with the camera in her hand, taking high-quality live recordings from Houston's music heroes and now more artistic works through her original music videos. We can't wait to see where she goes from here.


Home Base: Bays has nothing but nice things to say about every venue she's been allowed to film in, but particular love goes to Walters. Her first video was shot there, where owner Pam Robinson allowed Bays complete run of the place. Later, on her own initiative, Robinson cut a hole above the sound booth because she thought it would make a neat place to put a camera from the attic. Bays sings Robinson's praises as a supporter of all aspects of Houston music very loudly.


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Photo by Amanda J. Cain
The Tontons
Good War Story: "Save for getting knocked around at music festivals, they're pretty all tame," admits Bays. "The Tontons release show at Walters with Wild Moccasins, Young Mammals and Featherface was the most chaotic."

We had four cameras, three operators, and shot all four bands straight through. Usually we'd set up a large studio stand with a room mike, but since the show was sold out, it would have been too dangerous to have it in the crowd.

Instead, we extended a stand out from the window and duct taped it to a chair that was sitting in the attic. The entire set-up, shooting and breakdown time totaled ten hours. At one point during the show, someone had spilled a full beer on my back and it was running down my legs, but I didn't move a muscle because I wanted the shot.

Sadly, the audio and some of the video didn't come out very well and we had to scrap the whole show, but we learned a lot.


Story continues on the next page.

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