I didn’t want to make this particular film about ‘good looking’ plates of food, instead I really wanted to show the audience a glimpse inside Alvin’s imagination and understand what makes him approach new dishes in such a unique and original way. I wanted to challenge the viewer to think about food and how we interpret it just in the same way Alvin does when people visit his restaurant.
The biggest challenge was to shoot everything in camera, this is an approach that I always start the majority of my work with and a challenge that I really enjoy. I like to play with perception and by using a mixture of lenses and effects you start to recognise these micro environments within objects, like blow torching different types of meat to look like falling meteorites, to creating giant smoke rings, burning steaks to look like mountain ranges and creating mini universes in blenders.
There was a lot of pre-production meetings with good friends and long-term collaborators Thomas Petherick (set design) and David Procter (DoP), I bombarded them with lots of science related visual tricks that I wanted to recreate using our props and food. To add another level we made sure all the items featured in the film were edible, even what looks to be sand midway through is a mix of flour and pepper, in every scene there is something that could potentially be devoured.
A 5am trip to the fish market gave us some really great textures and treats, not necessarily for the studio fridge as it had to contain a very large squid, octopus and various types of crab and fish all day. In the end the sea and ultimately the smell won and we resorted to hanging the various bags of octopus and fish out of the studio window for the rest of the shoot.
It started off as a day where we had a set of shots we wanted to achieve which turned into our own ridiculous experiments and as the hours passed by the more weird our ideas became, getting to the point where curiosity takes over and you really just need to see what happens when you drip liquid metal on to a pineapple at 100fps.
We set out to interpret Alvin’s (Demon Chef) approach by playing with scale and camera perspective mixing different everyday food with chemicals, explosives, blow torches, inks, speakers and blenders creating an abstract and surreal aesthetic that references the importance of creativity, innovation, science & food culture.
See Behind the Scenes and additional photography in Related Content
Demon Chef, Alvin Leung
Director: Ryan Hopkinson
Production co: WhiteLodge
Executive producer: Stephen Whelan
DoP: David Procter
Production manager: Sibylle Boettger
Editor: Sally Cooper, Cut and Run
Post Production: Finish
Colourist: Julian Biard
Sound design: Soundnode
Focus puller: Tom Turley
Camera assistant: Chris Rogers
Set diesn: Thomas Petherick
Set Assistant: Pippa Dowdell