I’ve wanted to do a fashion film for ages as have never really done a proper one. I’ve always said that when I do do one, I’ll try and make it 110% unique and keep it in the realm of feature style filmmaking, rather than studio/after effects vibes which so many of them seem to be. So when White Lodge asked me to write an idea for River Island’s new collection and that it was a totally open brief, I thought this was a rare opportunity. I never in a million years thought they’d go for it. However they did and then I had to pretend I knew what I was doing.
For the people who know me, when I first write an idea they usually get a lot of funny looks from pretty much everyone. This one was the biggest example of that. In theory this idea is impossible because of steadicam limitations and lighting exposures, never mind the dancers and models getting things right. Doing a job exploring a whole mansion, in one take, was always going to be extremely risky. Especially when it was going to be over ten minutes in length. I deserved the looks. However, I should also say, that I’ve never been as well backed in my life. Massive props to Laura Jones my producer, Stephen Whelan and Beatrice Warren our production manager for putting up with me as always.
The structure of the film was one that would be totally dictated by the location, therefore finding the right one was imperative. A lot had the right interior but wrong exterior and vice versa, or maybe corridors were too narrow to move a steadicam around, so it was a touch decision. None were absolutely perfect, just due to the size of the task we were undertaking. However, we decided on Brocket Hall due to the main room. The ceiling in there is pretty breathtaking and it was important it had that impact…
I’ve shot a few times now like this and I have to say I absolutely love it. You either get it, or you don’t, which when doing a large commercial job such as this, is always a huge risk. The key to it for me is having people you trust with you. Ben Glickman (1st AD) and Tony Miller (DoP) did a fantastic job for me as usual. They’re both fellas I know very well and have done for years. I was a runner for both of them as it happens, and we’ve worked together a lot now. It’s that history and trust you need on a job like this. I have a very strong relationship with Tony especially and he knows me inside out creatively. That sounds really weird and probably gives the wrong impression but you know what I mean.
The planning was meticulous on the choreography with Jerry Reeve. Each person had individual instructions from both of us, and everyone was great. As the day went on rehearsals were going amazing from the cast but camera not so much so. This was nothing to do with the crew at all, just due to the task. Due to the camera being everywhere, only the focus puller could travel with the camera. There were AD’s and runners hidden everywhere and the rest of the people watching the monitor were hidden in a cupboard with me. You would here over the radio “we’re into the lobby”… then “we’re moving into room two”…It was like that scene from Alien where they’re exploring the ship.
It was 7pm at night before we got our first full run through as a complete take and everyone cheered, it was really quite a buzz.
We finished the day with 3 full takes, with one killer one which is now the film, and a very relieved Ryan Hope. I had visions of me being on the dart board at River Island head office for some time.
Chloe Kerman and her team from Garage Magazine styled the shoot as they normally do for my fashion music video jobs and they were unbelievable. They really do deserve a special mention, as do all of the glam team as I’ve never been as happy with how it looked. Considering all of the clothes are from one store, and the amount of people to do in one day, this was as a phenomenal achievement as was what was going on with the tech side of things.
At the end of the day I was thinking to myself how nice it is to do a job where there wasn’t going to be much post, which was probably my largest miscalculation.
I’ve been learning how to make music and sound design for some time now on the quiet, having lessons from friends. I’ve been taking a lot more serious since January and this is the first piece of my video work that, along with Alex Jones, I’ve done myself. Alex is one of my very good mates and owns the rather wicked Hypercolour records. He’s a brilliant producer and we’ve talked about working together musically for some time, and this seemed right to be the first project. We’re just about to launch a pretty special sound production company called ‘Albion’, which I’m really excited about, so I guess this is the first Albion project.
Director: Ryan Hope
Producer: Laura Jones
Exec Producer: Stephen Whelan
Director of Photography: Tony Miller
Steadicam: Simon Wood
Costume Stylist: Chloe Kerman
Make up Artist: Abigail Johnson
Hair Stylist: Claire Rothstein
Art Director: Anna Rhodes
Post Producer: Lesley Queen @ Prime Focus
Colourist: Rich Fearon @ Prime Focus
Flame Op: Dave Skippy Clifton @ Prime Focus
Music : Alex Jones & Ryan Hope