Sunday, 29 January 2012

Sophie On: Beth's Costumes (Wasteland)

Hi Guys!

    I'm on the Wasteland set pretty much every day at the moment, and to cut a long story short, I'm loving it. Two days ago - whilst one of our runners was in Make-Up being turned into a corpse - the cinematographer, Chris Newman, did a video interview with me. This should be online in various forms over the next few days, so I thought I'd do a little blog post to accompany it.

   Within the interview, I talk a lot about the costumes - particularly those of the female lead character, Beth, because I have the most ideas for her. I've mentioned Beth's costume on here in the past (mostly whilst I was constructing her main costume) but I thought I would go into a little more detail.

    A lot of the film's design has a fixed colour palet - I've had fun finding locations and I've been really inspired by the way man-made buildings look when the earth reclaims them. (I've been photographing rust, dark decaying stonework and buildings wrapped in ivy for my mood boards). This all helps towards creating a vision of a bleak but believable future; all human resources are running out, so it makes sense for what's left to be natural. There's technology everywhere but it's without function; to really emphasise that, I've scattered the main set with only vintage pieces of technology. The old metal colours of these look better, anyway.

   For all these reasons - and the fact that Beth is a very down-to-earth person - I've kept her colour palet completely natural as well. It also makes sense for her to look so earthy when she represents the centre of Scott's world (she's become like a beacon of hope for him, almost an obsession). I was mostly inspired by the colours of shells for Beth - which ties in with all the fact that Scott remembers visiting the beach with her - and I even use shells in a lot of her jewellery. But for the flashback scenes I also incorporate a touch more colour, to visually show how happy the memories are for Scott, by incorporating pastel pinks and green, and still-natural-looking flower prints.

    So here's the breakdown of my plan for all of Beth's costumes:

(My concept art for Beth's 'Flashback' style)

The Student Party (Scene 4)

    The first time we see Beth is when Scott meets her at a house party. The scene is full of young people having fun together, so Beth's costume needed to suit that setting. However, as it is our first impression of her, I want her look to be nature-inspired for the word go. For that reason she will wear a jumpsuit with a snake print, with a snake bangle, but seaside inspired pearls around her neck. This outfit mostly belongs to the actor for Beth (Lucy Varney) so I don't have a photo of it yet. You'll just have to wait and see...

The Lover's Montage (Scene 17)

    All of these scenes are set in late summer, to give them an especially dreamlike quality, so I couldn't use anything too warm-looking. But I still wanted to use traces of natural-looking fabrics to support Beth's earthy look, so I resorted to using a series of layers - all in natural tones but with an interesting range of different fabrics. (I've loved using layers ever since I watched Sex and the City and fell in love with Patricia Field's style).

   The first look (right) is one which Beth wears whilst playing with Scott in the garden. The skirt has three light-weight layers under the heavier one so that it will dance as they 'frolic', and the scarf should add extra movement as well. She's also younger and more carefree in this scene, an idea which will be enhanced by the use of long grey socks and black flat shoes with this look.

    Beth wears this outfit (left) in the part of the montage where Scott and her are having a picnic. It's a tranquil, summery scene so I wanted to make it really feminine whilst still featuring layers. The belt is also a hint to the one she wears later as part of her 'traveller' ensemble, so that should tie in nicely.
     I'm still not sure about this outfit as I have two similar dresses to choose from - the other is a lighter pink with a less busy print and with more blue/grey undertones than green, so this might work better. Either way it will be worn with long white socks and brown flats, again keeping the look youthful and fun.

    I don't have a picture of Beth's third montage look - an ensemble she wears when she's out in town with Scott - but it will feature more blues and heavier fabric because she's in a less natural setting. It features a flower print on a blue skirt, worn with a tied-up denim jacket and straw trilby hat; another fun, young look because Scott is giving her a piggy-back in the scene.

    A lot of the montage scenes have already been shot - we're re-shooting them mostly because of a change of camera - so I've had the lucky experience of testing out most of these looks on Lucy already.

    This fourth montage outfit (pictured on Lucy, right) is worn whilst Scott and Beth are watching TV together. It's a simple scene but quite a romantic one so beth looks particularly flirty and feminine. I mixed two different flower prints with one of hearts on her legs (the only unnatural print she wears in the film) so the mix of prints are definitely in tribute to Pat Field's style, again.

    Her last look in the montage is supposed to be when her and Scott are on the beach (as I said, they are a couple who love their beach trips), in which case her costume will simply be a suitable bikini.

    However, in the likely event that we don't film this scene on a beach (due to our location and the fact that our principle filming is happening in February), Beth will require another costume. it's likely that - without the beach - the scene will be cut all together, but I wanted to be prepared anyway. Plus it's fun to play dress-up with my mannequin!

    Therefore Beth's final costume for the montage is another mix of earthy colours, and natural (thicker) fabrics contrasting with lighter ones. The ensemble (left) features another colourful, girly summer dress (there's a black net underskirt to add more bounce and to tie in with the darker colours - but you won't see that until she moves) and it's layered with browns and greys. Perhaps this costume will show the ending of summer - and of Scott's happy memories - as they move into autumn. It will be worn with long grey socks again (which will suit the bouncy underskirt) and little grey lace gloves.

Scott and Beth in Bed (Scene 9 & 15)

    And neither of these are remotely smutty, before you come to any conclusions! The first is Scott and Beth talking calmly in bed; the second is a dream scene where Beth turns into a Zombie. Beth wears nighties in both scenes - one white and one coral pink - but basically I said to Lucy, "Beth is the type of person who would wear a warm shawl over a nice nightie if she's cold", and we went from there!

The Resteraunt Proposal (Scene 32)

    When Scott proposes to Beth, it comes at a rather unfortunate time. An infection that turns people into the walking dead has just engulfed most of London (not exactly the most romantic thing to happen) and Beth is worried about the family she has down there. Her costume needs to reflect the change in tone, so I've started bringing in more blacks to go sit alongside her coral pinks (the cameo necklace is seashell but caged within a string of jet beads - how fitting!). 

    There's two options for this look - partly because I wanted to bring in another natural contrasting fabric, keeping Beth's layery-look going, but also in case it's cold in the resteraunt we film in. The script is definitely moving into autumn now as well, so it's likely that she might layer up. The dress will be worn with tall sheepkin boots to bring in tones of brown.

The Kitchen Scenes (38 and 41)

    These are two looks which I also got the opportunity to test on Lucy before we changed cameras:

    The same themes run through these costumes as before - using layers and natural colours - but I bring in much darker tones and thicker layers. Not only is it fully autumn in the film, but times are getting more difficult for the characters (food supplies are wearing thin and they can't get in touch with their families), and the colours reflect this. The long socks and little shoes are completely gone - as is Beth's carefree nature - and she gradually wears less accessories. Her hair becomes more dishevelled too - in the second look she's just swept it out of the way, whereas before she kept it loose and feminine.

The 'Angel Dream' Costume (Scene 47)

    Briefly in the film - due to a consumption of alcohol - Scott dreams that Beth has returned to him. She looks just as he remembers her, except even more luminous, like a heightened, projected version of his memories. For this reason I'm keeping the costume simple an mostly white - a vintage (1980s) white dress worn with a crystal belt and pearl headband to add an extra ethereal twinkle in the candle light.

    The dress is also worn with a slightly thicker, grey waistcoat. After all, it's still Beth, with Beth's layery earthy style continuing throughout, to show that this is just how Scott remembered her. It grounds her, makes her more real to him - which is why it's more sad for him when he wakes up, alone.

Scott and Beth move into the Hide-Out (Scene 52, 54 & 55)

    In these scenes, Beth and Scott have left behind everything they know to seek solace in a barn - the main setting of most of the film. Their clothes are practical as well as being early versions of the earthy, scavenger costumes they both wear later. Due to the practicality of the setting, Beth's usual girly skirts are gone completely in favour of trousers.

   I kept the first 'barn look' a little bit fun still, with a lighter fabric on the blouse, because there is still banter between Scott and Beth at this point. They're trying to make the best of a bad situation by flirting with each other. So I also her in shell jewellery and a hint of pink with the vest she wears under her blouse. But this is laden with a thick beige waistcoat and beanie hat to show the colder times that are coming.

    The next time we see Beth, her spirit's gone. She's shivering from cold and the hopelessness of the situation has really sunk in. So the costume is simple and purely practical, layered for warmth rather than style (she also wears a blanket over it). The thick, open-weave jumper and brown checked trousers she wears are hints of her old earthy/country style. After all, these are still Beth's clothes - they haven't quite become scavengers yet.

    The grey top she wears under the jumper not only adds depth and colour-interest to her top half, but also ties in the continuity of the film, because it's the top she wears under her dress in the later scenes when she returns to Scott. It's already aged and full of holes to fit in with this later look, but you can't see these under the jumper - it saves me having to age the top in a limited space of time.

   Finally we see Beth in a variation of the above, with a thick cardigan and belt layered over the top for travel. This will also be worn with a small amount of luggage, as she has chosen to walk away from Scott in search of her missing family. Again the cardigan is practical but I've used Beth's theme of natural colours and fabrics so show that it is part of her old wardrobe.

    The belt is a slightly stylish addition, even though the colours and textures are in keeping. It's partly to pull in the chunky cardigan around Lucy's waist, to flatter her figure rather than loosing it. But also it works in the same way as her grey top, because she is seen wearing this belt when she returns.

    The costume is worn with uggs - a very fitting shoe for Beth - but these are gone by the time she returns in favour of more sturdy lace-up boots.

Which brings us nicely to...

Beth's Traveller/Scavenger Look (Scene 60 onwards)

I've shown these pictures and explained them before. But hopefully now you can see how they tie in with all of the above, and show the progressive arc Beth's style goes on from start to finish.

I don't usually get to go into this much detail about costumes, so I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I have compiling it for you. Look out for all of these outfits - plus many more, worn by the other characters - in the finished film.

Sophie x

Thursday, 26 January 2012

All the Different Ways to Follow my Work...

Hello everybody,

    And hello to my new followers, both future collaberators - Adam McCready, local based theatre/film sound guy, and Riccardo Servini, a london based filmmaker who's made a load of awesome films about clowns recently:


    With the filming of Wasteland well underway (and you know I'm going to keep you updated on that), I haven't got much to say today. But with my online personality growing all the time, I wanted to show you other places on the internet where you can find out more about me and my work. It's also interesting for me to look at the continued visual patterns I have linking most of these - and I definitely have Rei Bennet and her photography skills to thank for that.

    First up, I have a new logo. The amazing Samwise Haynes (long-time family friend and creator of recent Pepperami and Brother adverts, amongst others) designed a few different ones for me. I put them all on my Facebook page and people voted for their favourties. There was a top three, but this one came out head above the others:

    Which brings me to the first link. To see the other designs and to get regular updates on my work - including castings and crew vacancies - here is the Triskelle Pictures Facebook page for y'all to follow:

    Prefer Twitter to Facebook? Well, thanks to the pushing of Wasteland director Tom Wadlow, and writer Tommy Draper, you can also find me there:!/SophieBlackFilm

(My Twitter Profile - just so you know what it looks like!)

    For those of you who aren't into social networking, but still want to find out more about the films that I've worked on, or those which I am signed on to do, I have profiles on StarNow and FilmCrewPro amongst others. I regularly keep these updated.

    Or if you want my work to speak for myself - or simply prefer watching things to reading - then you can see my regular video diaries on my Youtube channel, or other short films/trailers/tidbits on Vimeo.
(My Youtube Channel - although I'm happy to say I have another video plus more subscriptions and LOTS more channel views since I took that screenshot!)

     And finally, I promise that I will have a proper website soon. I'm meeting with my PR girl, Stephanie Murphy, again soon, so we'll make a plan for it. In the meantime, you can get a rough idea of how it's going to look by seeing the screenshot I got of my first website attempt (and yes, it is in the wrong language. Which is why I wasn't able to finish it...):

    That's all I have to say for now - apart from a HUGE thankyou to everyone who donated to Stop/Eject recently. I'm happy to announce that we reached our funding total, and the shoot will go ahead later this year.

    Now I'm off to go and make more fake bean labels for the Wasteland shoot...

Sophie x

Monday, 16 January 2012

Sophie On: Her Costume Advert (part one)

Hi Everybody,

    Things are once again busy in my neck of the woods, with everyone on the Stop/Eject crew (and even my little guinea pig, Manny) doing everything they can to raise money before the funding campaign runs out. Neil even got us a slot on Midlands Today! We've got less than two days to go so check out the two latest promotional videos (but don't take the first too seriously):

    But those aren't the only things that came out this week. My latest video diary came out - the longest and most viewed to date - and I wanted to tell you the story behind it.

    When I left University and moved home to Derbyshire, and once the initial feeling of excitement and shock at the change had faded, a sudden realisation hit me. This was it, the start of my future, and I was miles away from every film contact I had made. I didn't have a plan, and I needed one, otherwise I would go bonkers, wandering round the local scenery every day without a sensible thought in my head. I'm a very visual person, obviously, and I always prefer to see things in front of me when I'm thinking, so I love lists. So, to plan out the next few moves in my life, I made this (and it's been on my study wall ever since):

    The plan got abandoned towards the end of 2010. I started doing extra hours at my then-supermarket job to pay off my overdraft, and from February 2011 onwards I started working for LightFilms, then Crash Taylor, then Neil Oseman... basically I got very busy very fast!

    But I did buy a very cheap (£35) steadycam, I had my professional promo-shoot (with the equally lovely Rei Bennet because Holly was busy), I turned the spare room into my office, bought Business Cards in their hundreds, and I have a website in the works. Plus I have this blog in the meantime.

    Then, right at the end of 2011, I got to tick off a new box. Sort of. I've worked for Light Films for nearly a year ago and it never occured to me that I had the Derbyshire commercial filmmaking kings on the top of my contacts list, and that it was a fact I should work with. After three/four fiction projects together, we wanted to do something new, so Tom Wadlow and Chris Newman of Light Films ended up shooting an advert for me in a 'scratch my back' sort of deal. I would get a free advert for my costumer's skills providing they get some beautiful footage to play with. And they certainly did got that!

    A picture can say a thousand words, so I've fully captured the day in a behind-the-scenes video from the day (which became my latest video blog) and photographed everything, so today's blog won't be a wordy, detailed account of the shoot. But I wanted to share my best photos of the day with you, featuring the wonderful models who performed for me.

COSTUME ONE: The 'Marianne' Dress

    I often say this dress is my biggest costume achievement to date, because it took months for me to do and I put a lot of trimmings and detail into it. It was also a personal projectfor me because the fabric I used for the front skirt panel was found in my Grandma's cupboard after she died. I based the whole colour scheme of the dress around that fabric because I wanted to make something special out of it, for her.

    I made this dress to be used in The Opening Night, a film I wrote and directed in 2010, and it was worn by a wonderful actress called Lucy Hagan-Walker, in the lead role of Marianne. Here's Lucy in the dress (the second photo is by the film's cinematographer, Emmaalouise Smith):

And here is the amazing model Halo Haynes wearing the same dress on the Costume Advert shoot:

COSTUME TWO: The 'Marigold' dress

     The second costume featured was a gown I'd made purely for this shoot, mostly because I wanted to challenge myself. If you look a couple of blog entries back you can see the story behind the production of this dress, and the photos I took along the way. But here is the beautiful Lozzi-Beth Godfrey wearing the dress on the shoot day - I have now nicknamed the dress 'Marigold' purely because of the colour but I will always know it as the Lozzi dress:

  And here's Halo and Lozzi in their Victorian dresses together:

COSTUME THREE: The 'Dorian' Ensemble

    Another one from The Opening Night, and another featuring fabric that had belonged to my Grandma (that of the waistcoat - the fabric for the coat was reclaimed from a bad 'vampire ballgown' I'd made in my teens). Here is the costume back in 2010, worn by Edward McBride III as 'Dorian':

    And here is the same costume worn by male model Sam Tansley on the advert shoot:

COSTUME FOUR: Red Riding Hood

    This was another costume that was new to screen. I made it for the first project I ever did with Crash Taylor (which never actually came into fruition) way back in April of last year, so it was great to finally see it being worn. On Lozzi, it looked as striking as I'd intended it to:

    We'll be doing the second half of the costume shoot when everyone is free, with Halo in my 'Corpse Bride' costume, Lozzi in my Moulin Rouge dress, and both girls in Art Deco Flapper Dresses.

    For all the rest of the photos from the shoot, check out the album on my Facebook pages:

    While you're at it, you should also take a look at the girls' pages, because they're young, talented british models and they need our support:

   And once you've done all that, here's  even more for you to enjoy - the complete behind-the-scenes video, featuring a particularly funny scene of me trying to wake up at an early hour:

Sophie x

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Sophie's 2012 Schedule/Plan!

Hello everybody,

    Well, it's another year. Hopefully it won't be our last one, as people have predicted. But if it is, then at least I'll be going out after a big one, topped off with the most exciting thing of all: The Hobbit in cinemas!

    So, just when I thought things were getting quiet, I find myself booking up big chunks of the year in advance (much as I hate the word 'chunk'). As well as the odd corporate shoot or two, my video diaries, a friend's wedding, and the release of my costume advert, I have some pretty exciting fiction films in the pipeline. So I thought I'd share my year's plan with you:

ONGOING: "Jar of Angels"

    Yes, the beloved jugganaut that is JOA is not quite finished yet. The edit is very much assembled; we're just waiting on one re-shoot day. I cannot say for definite when this will be (things such as budget and actor/crew availability must be taken into account) but it should certainly be done before the end of spring, because that's when some very important submission dates are... 

    And I just got a little buzz of excitement thinking about that!

    In the meantime, the trailer is still online, edited by Rik Winter and Crash Taylor, and we're all still very proud of it. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it:

   Once the shoot for that is back in motion, there will be other exciting bits of promotion for you all, including some video interviews with the actors, so I will do more blogs featuring production stories as well.

FEBRUARY: "Wasteland"

    Another one which started last Summer. Wasteland is still yet to shoot fully, although it is fully cast and the art department is almost fully stocked. The project is very much up and running again, and set to shoot in February. And you can still see the trailer online:

    In all honesty, I don't think I've explained to you guys how good Wasteland should turn out to be. Yes, it is a Zombie film, and that would put some people off - I'm not a big Zombie movie fan myself, Resident Evil's guilty pleasures aside. But Wasteland isn't 'just a Zombie movie'. 

    For those of you who like zombies: it does have them, there are battles, and heads will explode bloodily. For those of you who don't like zombies: there aren't many in it and those that are can be seen more as a metaphor for all the things in real life which may turn the world to shit (such as increasing poverty, overpopulation, and global warming).

   But here's the reason I like it. Above all, Wasteland is an observational drama which makes you question how you, yourself would survive if you were completely alone. There's a beautiful, bleak stillness about it, just as there is in The Road. I get to bring these themes through a very natural colour pallet and some withering, rusty locations. It's been a ball!

MARCH: "Ashes"

    Here's where I get even more excited. I've hinted for a while that I'll be directing my first short film since 2010, that it'll be called 'Ashes', and that it will be fairly controversial. Now I get to tell you a little more:

   The story follows Sarah, a naive young woman, and the encroaching doubts & mistrust she has for her boyfriend, Mark. As her mood changes, so does the world around her, transforming from a beautiful, Hollywood vision of romance, to a deteriorating scene of darkness and broken porcelain faces, (and yes, I do mean literally). Finally there is the raw, real world as the two lovers confront each other, and face the truth of the situation.

    The trailer and subsequent funding campaign will be shot and uploaded within the next two months, with filming now predicted to go ahead in March. What's more, as of today, I HAVE MY CAST!!

Sarah Lamesch "Sarah"
Adam Richard Lannon "Mark"

Writer/Director Sophie Black
D.O.P.s Crash Taylor & Richard Winter
Lighting Emmaalouise Smith
Sound (Vacant - comment below to apply)
Costume & Production Design Gina Hames (assisted by Sophie Black)
Editor Richard Winter
MUA Rena Kalandrani
Visual/Digital FX Carl Cropley
Stills Photographer Rei Bennett
Clapper Loader/Continuity Stephanie Murphy

    Now how's THAT for a crew?! I am one very happy bunny right now. If you want to be part of that team then, as stated, we do need someone to record and mix our sound. As well as that I may be offering out runner or assistant roles (including 1st AD) if the right people get in contact with me.

   Preparations for the trailer are in place but, for now, here are the latest pieces of concept art for you to enjoy.

One by me: 

And one by production designer Gina Hames (who was my assistant on Wasteland):

APRIL/MAY: "Stop/Eject"

    I can't confirm for definite that this will be in April or May but, looking at the projects I'm signed onto above, I'm thinking it will be. It might even fall on my birthday - that'd be a fun way to spend it! (I actually mean that, I'm not being sarcastic).

   The story? "A young couple, Dan and Kate, enter a dusty old charity store on an Autumn day. On that same day, Dan is hit by a car and killed. With the discovery of a magical tape recorder in the back of the shop, Kate is able to re-live the moment of Dan's death over and over again. But she cannot change what happens: she can only watch.

   When Kate finds many more tapes in the shop's basement, she realises that she can re-play every moment she spent with Dan, always watching from a distance. Absorbed in a world of nostalgia and regret, will Kate ever be able to get back to reality, and let Dan go?"

   My latest job on this has been to storyboard a good portion of the first three scenes. I did them on A3 pages and then stored them in a folder, as shown here:
    They took a couple of weeks to do and I put a lot of care into them, which I did for the same reason that everyone involved has been plugging the Crowdfunder link on every web page they can, and for the same reason that Neil Oseman even got himself interviewed on Midlands Today. We all really, really believe in this project, and want to make it happen.

   If you want any proof of that at all, just watch the pitch video. I'm even in it:

    Our Crowdfunder campaign runs out in a week. At that point, if we haven't reached £2000, we won't get any of our budget at all (nor will any of the current funders be charged). That means we probably won't get to make Stop/Eject. Therefore PLEASE, if you have just read all of my rediculously long blog post, and it has inspired even a tiny spark of intrigue, then please click on this link, give as little or as much as you can, and spread the word around - before it's too late:


   I've got a few things in the pipeline for the end of Summer onwards, including the long awaited 1930s gangster short, Paradise Corner. But for now, with all the above taking main priority, and to quote Ashes, those projects are little more than 'whispers on the wind'.

   2012 looks set to be a good one, and I hope that you'll all enjoy going for the ride along with me. 

   And maybe I'll see you in the cinema for The Hobbit Part One at the end of the world...