Growing Shadows: An Insider's Perspective
Anna Lucia Sadler.]
As many people do, I adore behind-the-scenes photographs - and I've been lucky to work with some of the best BTS photographers on my short film projects over the years. As a result, my hard drives are full of stunning images, capturing numerous memories, but doing so in a way that is beautiful enough to send to festivals or journalists. They're some of the best marketing materials a filmmaker can have, but do these glossy images capture the full truth of a shoot?
Shortly after finishing the fantasy film Songbird, I invited Production Assistant Steve Giller to share his ground level stories from the shoot, which I put together in a blog post along with some photos Steve had taken on his phone. The blog post spread a fresh light on a film which had already been talked about at length, and the photos showed the crew from a unique and personal perspective. Furthermore, it was one of the most popular posts in nearly a decade of me having a blog!
So, I thought it would be good to invite another crew member to share their on-set stories and personal photographs, but this time we're looking at another short film: Growing Shadows: The Poison Ivy Fan Film. Today, I'm delighted to be joined by one of the film's brilliant lead actors and producers, Robert Dukes. Rob jumped at the chance to share his thoughts, and also agreed with my opinion of 'phone photography':
"I’ve always loved taking BTS pics on my phone whilst on set. You’ve spent days even weeks with the cast and crew, which brings a sense of familiarity and warmth to the photos, as you all bond along the way."
After browsing his personal collection, Rob has chosen to share the following photos because he believes they "capture the fun of our job, but also the hard work that's been put in by everyone". To me, these images have brought back some lovely memories from one of my favourite shoots of all time - but for those of you who weren't there, I hope you enjoy this insider's view of the Growing Shadows set and crew...
Above: Definitely not your usual, perfect promo photo! Here's Rob in the car with me and Aislinn De'Ath (who played Ivy and also wrote and co-produced the film), with MUA Monica Montalvo just out of shot. I love how this photo captures the pre-shoot nerves combined with subtle excitement, as it was taken on the way to set at the very beginning of the shoot.
Above: Bruce's entrance was lit in a way that was a visual reference to the character's alter ego. This brilliant moment was actually Rob's idea, and he couldn't resist a selfie!
On the subject of playing such an iconic character, whilst also juggling the co-producer role, Rob had this to say: "It was a privilege. Being part of all the discussions, the scribbled drawings, the screen shots, even Pinterest posts about the look and feel of the film, was wonderful. We had the ability to take our time with this, to really try and create something that we ourselves would want to see for Poison Ivy. Juggling the Actor/Producer role was actually easier than I had imagined, mainly because of Sophie; she had made sure that once Aislinn and I stepped onto set, all we had to do was act. We just had the pleasure of playing in the world that had been created."
Above: angles of the set we've never let you see before - and with the full house lights on! For certain shots, the set had to be moved away from the wall, enabling us to set up the camera behind Ivy's bed.
Rob has some lovely memories of the first time he saw the set. "Walking onto set as Bruce, with Aislinn in the cell (created and built by our fantastic Production Designer, Charlotte Ball), was perfect. Everyone had clearly brought their A game with this; we had managed to put together a cast and crew who loved Batman lore as much as we did, and it showed."
Continuing his thoughts on the atmosphere of the set, Rob says: "the room was dimly lit - so dim in fact that we couldn't see into the corners of the room (kit needed labeling with bright LX tape just so it could be found again). The lights pitched shadows up the walls, creating tricks of the mind. The soft green hue played across the floor. The 'cell' smelt damp; there was the occasional drip of water from the ceiling and the lighting captured the dust in the air beautifully. I was thrilled - we had found and orchestrated our Arkham Asylum!"