Thursday, 9 June 2011

Sophie on: never saying no to a project, beautiful dirt on camera, and why you shouldn't throw away old fabric!

Hello again everybody! 

I'm off to London tomorrow until Monday so now seemed as good a time as ever to do my first update. I'm currently attached to five projects, perhaps six, two of which are heavily in pre-production at the moment (not to mention my own project, that I've been working on since I was fifteen and currently is nicknamed 'the Infamous Script'). Anyone who knows me knows that I rarely ever turn down a project, which will explain the current workload, but I have two good reasons for this 1) I'm very enthusiastic and I love doing what I do, and 2) when you work in this field, it's hard to stop giving 110% or turn down every one in five films because there are hundreds of people who are more than willing to step up and fill the place that you left! I am reminded of this all the time. I have even met people who want my job. They are very nice and often make very useful contacts!


So I'm rather busy at the moment. It's been a particularly crazy week this week, since I managed to slip in a job on a live music video on Monday for Front Row Films. The band filmed was headed by the local legend that is Chris Harding (one of his earlier groups was the first band I moshed to. True fact.). That was a good one-day shoot, with no problems except one of my lights' bulb exploded for the first time, which any film-maker will tell you is an interesting experience!

On Tuesday, after a day of set-designing, there was the shoot for the trailor of the film I am co-writing with the frankly brilliant Crash Taylor. I won't give away anything about the film yet (check out http://coyotecanyonfilms.com/ for updates on all of Crash's work) but I will say that the trailor was filmed in Mansfield and I had a bit of an epic trek getting there when not one but two of my trains were cancelled. There's a reason that filmmakers with cars get more work. But once I did finally get there the shoot was fantastic because we were filming in the singular most filthy place I have ever had the pleasure to film in! It was an old garage, thick with dust (you went brown the second you knealt down) and cluttered floor to cieling with mechanical junk. Not that I'm complaining. On the contrary, there is nothing more beautiful than dirt on screen. If I'm out and about with my camera I would much rather photograph a close-up of a rotten chain on a gate than a vast, calm ocean because it's all about the texture. I love rust and I'm not afraid to say so. Heck, I would gladly have that on a T-shirt! For one thing, it makes set decorating a lot easier, because there is never any dead space. For example, we had to set up one corner of the room with a chair, a heater, some tools, an a load of photos and newspaper clippings on one wall, and I worried that the area would look a bit sparce, and not in a good, minimalist kind of way. Then I looked on the viewfinder of Crash's beautiful camera and I was relieved to see that all the different colours and textures of dirt on the walls had filled in all the gaps and created a rich, multi-tonal image. I don't know why people say cameras add pounds to people because, in my experience, they minimise everything. I'll explain that more at a later date because this post is getting rather large, but take my word for that at the moment, and always refer to your lens!

Finally, pre-production is well underway for the next LightFilms project, and apart from the meeting today I've mostly been searching for locations and beginning the costumes for the two lead characters. The film is a post-apocalyptic lost-soul thriller, for want of a better term, so everything needs to look as though it's been composed from whatever materials the characters could source. Now, over the years, as a costume designer, I have accumulated a LOT of fabric. I never throw anything away if it's bigger than a scrap, and other costume designers I've met definitely do the same. My little studio is a quarter fabric, if not more at the moment, if you count all the stuff currently on the mannequin. I even have a large piece of Beano print fabric because I think it might come in handy at some point. But all these little pieces, combined with the specifications of the script, have given me a wonderful opportunity to work with patchwork. I did one patchwork military coat more than five years ago and it was a wonderful task. Some of the fabric from that has even been recycled here. The best part about it is going through your little scraps and thinking, "how/where would the character have found this bit? What caused the hole in his clothes, creating the need for the patch in the first place? This fabric is wacky but it makes for an interesting patch." It's like the clothes tell a lengthy story in themselves. I'm really only experimenting and pinning at the moment but, for you curious types, a little sample of my scavenger-style costumes is attached below.


I'll speak to you all next time,

Sophie

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