Monday, 20 February 2012

Sophie On: Her Costume Advert (part two)

Hi guys,

    I take my work very seriously - if I work for someone new I keep completely straight-faced and to the point for the first few shoots/meetings, and these days I'm inseparable from my folder full of schedules, notes and breakdowns. It seems a million miles away from the days when I'd just film my friends in the back garden, on a Hi8 camcorder, with bin bags as costumes (and yes, that did happen).

   But just occasionally, after a long day, when you're surrounded by a crew that you know well enough to count as friends, and something stupid happens (like the camera-man steps in dog poo), you just have to set your folder to one side and enjoy it. You're in schedule, everything's looking great, and everybody's in a good mood. So there's no harm in chatting about theoretical cannabalism whilst lenses are being changed (again, that is just one of the many random conversations I've come across during my career), or even starting up a general sing-song to keep spirits high when the temperature is low.

   Just under a month ago we filmed the second half of the costume advert. It was one such relaxed day, and all of the above happened, plus many more things. I was actually crying with laughter by the end of it - just in time for that to be caught on DiaryCam.

   But, most importantly, the footage looked amazing (I can't wait for the edit), and I got some more great photographs of my costumes being worn:


    This was the first Victorian costume I ever made, way back when I was 17, and it's pretty obvious why I made it. Moulin Rouge! is one of my favourite movies of all time, topped only by The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Catherine Martin is one of my favourite designers. The 'Smouldering Temptress' dress worn by Satine is listed in my top costumes of all time - most of the entries in that list are red, actually - and making my own interpretation would be the closest I would get to owning it.

   It was only featured in one film, and there only briefly - it was worn by an extra who catches the male lead's eye (because of the colour of the dress) in The Opening Night. Left is a little blurred photo I took of the extra in that dress being filmed by my crew:

   Now it's been given it's full deserved screen time - sometimes with fun accessories, and sometimes without - on great new model, Paige Keeling:



     The wonderful model Halo Haynes was back, and wearing a costume which had only previously been worn by me on a drunken night out in Derby, Hallowe'en 2010 (see left)

    This costume ended up causing the most giggles, actually. In my attempt to make it look original, and not an exact copy of the dress featured in Corpse Bride (which is difficult because I'd been merticulously accurate in the creation of it), we tried to make Halo look more like an 'ice queen'. Due to the frozen location, it seemed very fitting. So she wore a long lilac wig, and fab MUA Deborah Bennett decided to use crystals around her eyes.

   For some reason, the girls thought that these crystal eyes made Halo look like Gene Simmons, and that toppled them over into hysteria. I personally couldn't see the resemblance, and I thought Halo looked pretty cool, even in such a wacky costume, and here is the proof:


    Springtime 2011, Light Films director Tom Wadlow called me back after Shelf Stackers wrapped and said that he wanted to make an Art Deco Gangster Movie. It got shelved when Wasteland came along but I still did all of the breakdowns and concept art, and I made a little sample dress - for an extra to wear - with the secondary intention of wearing it to my Art Deco themed Birthday Party (again, which never happened).

   So, once again, we have a dress which hadn't been on film before, even though I was proud of all the detail that went into it, such as the many panels in the skirt (they aren't godets, they are individual panels, at least 50 of them - they took DAYS but the movement is amazing) and all the sections of different types of lace on the bodice. Apart from my second video diary, I only had a photo of it part done (right).

    The second flapper dress was actually bought from a charity store (shock horror) as a sort of accessory to the black dress, and so that the girls had an even amount of costume changes, but the black one will have the most screen time in the finished advert, and obviously I won't be taking any credit for the gold one.

   Here are the girls in their dresses (Paige in black, Halo in gold), and they were VERY brave for saying that it was -6 degrees that day. Please note, we weren't filming their feet:

   So, you've seen the photos, and the finished advert itself should appear online over the next couple of weeks (wahey!). In the meantime, here's the concluding part of the story behind the shoot, full of the kind of madness and mirth that you just can't fake. Enjoy!

    And be sure to check out Paige's page:

Sophie x

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Sophie On: The Ashes Trailer!

Hi guys,

    By April this year, it will have been two years since I last directed a film (my first festival-screened piece, The Opening Night), and it feels amazing to be back in the proverbial chair again. I believe that a person's essence and soul is very much inside of them, and if they can't express it on the outside, they're just trapped inside a shell; sometimes I feel as though I have so much rushing around inside my head, in a Tree Of Life-style montage of images, thoughts & feelings, that I'm going to burst! So to get even a little of this down on paper or on film causes me some relief.

   I've been planning Ashes for a while now but, on Monday 6th February, it suddenly felt very real, because the trailer was shot, in Beeston, at Adele Coxon's Coco Studio:

(The trailer set - Coco Studio in Beeston)

   The edit is currently taking place; once it's been cut together and then scored (by DJ Cmore Trix) it's be online for you all to see,  and our funding campaign can begin. But in the meantime, I wanted to share with you some of the photos I got on the day - to give you a little taster, so to speak. As always, I'm not a professional photographer - I take them to capture and catalogue life rather than as a serious art form - and I highly recommend you go to Crash Taylor's page for all his photos from the day. But, for now, here is my record of the day:

    The make-up for actor Sarah Lamesch was done by Rena Kalandrani in a great little dressing room at the studio. She had two looks to achieve because I wanted the trailer to jump between images of light and dark - first off, she made Sarah look tranquil and peaceful for a morning glow. Secondly, she gave Sarah a gothic, darkly fetish look with smokey eyes and wild hair, for the scene where she is terrified of an approaching assailant. Here are a couple of photos of Rena at work, plus a little video I got on my photo camera of her talking about her work:


   And here is Sarah in her finished make-up for the first scene; (For the photos from the second scene, check out Crash's page - as mentioned above - or wait for the trailer to see the finished result)

    After the work we did together on Jar of Angels, my DOPs on Ashes are the aforementioned Crash Taylor and Rik Winter, of Taylor | Winter Films (hence their 'in association with' credit on Ashes). Here are the boys doing what they do best:

    At the end of the day, as the caring director that I am (!), I made sure that people were rewarded for the hard work that they did. The boys got cake, and the girls were treated to some time on massage chairs:


    As always, you can see more photos from the day on my Facebook page, or you can get the full cast/crew list and other details about the film on its Festival Focus page

   The Ashes trailer and the finished costume advert are both scheduled to be released around the same time. As I write this, I do not know which will be done first, and that is a fact which excites me greatly. 

    In the meantime, my latest video blog is online, and it talks all about the pre-production of Ashes, covering everything leading up to the trailer itself.

Sophie x