I wanted a lobby poster that showed all the sisters and also had some action in it. A couple of years ago they made a movie of it with Merrill Streep playing trillian_stars' part and the poster for that movie, while not dreadful, looks like the Sound of Music is being attacked by a floating head. Plus it's got some sort of Little Miss Sunshine being channeled by Mary Poppins vibe. That poster gives you the idea that you're going to see the feel-good-movie-of-the-year and ... you're not. So that poster seemed a little disingenuous to me.
Anyway. It's important to tell a narrative in an image like this, but it's also important to tell an incomplete narrative -- one that asks questions as well as answers them.
So, the dancing was the first part. It's also a big challenge in a shoot like this to get this many actors on stage at the same time in a believable way -- meaning they all need to have a task and a reason for being there -- AAAND, something you never think about, they need to all have a reason for facing the camera. It's really common in movies & TV to have people "cheat" to the audience, which means they all sit on the same side of a table crowded together rather than across from one another like normal people. This drives me nuts (and it'll drive you nuts now that you know to look for it.) It seems like cheap thinking. So anyway ... if all the actors are watching Colleen dance, they all have a reason to be looking in a particular direction AND if she's spinning around, she has a reason to be facing away from them ... so that was problem #1.
Clickenzee to embiggen!
PHOTO NERDERY: I lit it with an sb80 inside a Photek Softlighter II, the big one, the sixty-three inch one, which an assistant was holding up and over. There was also a second assistant stage right (camera left) with a bare flash which is throwing some rim light onto the actors as well as being the principle light on Colleen. Just keep in mind that in a situation like this, there's no ambient light, so if you didn't put the light there, there's no light there. So without that second flash Colleen's face would be in total shadow.
Trice Baldwin-Browns and Trillian Stars
Then I wanted to do a bunch of character shots which could also theoretically fall within the play, which is sort of my way of doing production photos. I really dislike doing ordinary production stills because that's all about how someone else lights something -- and the difference in how you can light a still and how you have to light a stage is dramatic. Stage lights have to be out of the way of the actors and the audience and when lighting a still I can put lights 8 inches away from someone -- so these are more about mood and atmosphere.
Isa St. Claire (who you may remember as Juliet) and Steve Carpenter as her ner-do-well boyfriend.
I'd gone into this thinking "I'm going to shoot everything horizontally, like a movie, but every time I shoehorn myself into something like that I end up getting into trouble when someone asks for a vertical -- so I did verticals of everything too.
Trillian & Len Kelly as Father Jack
Do you like these people? Do you want to find out what happens to them? Dancing at Lughnasa opens February 21st, 2014 with previews the week before. It runs for a month. If you're in Philly, it's where you want to be.
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