February 18, 2015

My Hollywood Photo Shoot

The Movie Poster
And then there's my Hollywood movie poster photo, naturally. Please understand that I've never set foot in Hollywood. But maybe because of that I always think that adding 'Hollywood' to anything is bound to add panache... as in:  

Hollywood hills 
Hollywood sunset 
Hollywood ending 
Hollywood limo 
Hollywood mansion... you get the idea. 

The original photo
People probably thought I was bluffing when I said I'd been on a 'Hollywood photo shoot' one rainy night last December. But I really was - in the dark - on my bicycle - with my camera and tripod.  

The documentary film project required a dark, gothic, edgy image. So I was out to make just such an image with my trusty Lumix.

The contact sheet
In the falling dark the rain had just stopped. It was time for my Hollywood moment. Fate had compelled me... my date with Hollywood.

It all happened when the stars aligned and by a happy twist of fate I was contacted by the art director in L.A., the amazing Dagmar Wilde, who has created dozens of award winning Hollywood movie posters.  (I know it doesn't sound like I fit into this world, does it?  Believe me, I don't. So I was just as astonished. But it was so much fun).

Dagmar has designed movie posters for DeNiro, Ben Stiller, Robert Altman, Mad Men, Gossip Girl along with a stunning collection of independent film projects. And she's also a playwright and writer - all leading to the 'amazing' moniker. And for full disclosure, I am honored to say that she's a friend of mine from online and life.

The film is 'The Hunting Ground' directed by Oscar nominated Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering.  They've done films like The Invisible War, Outrage, This Film Is Not Yet Rated and Twist of Fate. This film is a documentary on the topic of college rape.  Not a topic I knew anything about... but I guess that's the whole point of the film - to shed some light on this overlooked issue.  

Since it was temporarily not raining, I shot a sequence of images, trying with intuition to make something compelling. Of course a tripod and correct exposure are requirements for night photography. It's way trickier than daylight shooting... factors like noise and blur and losing details all figure in. It can be difficult. I used a timed shutter release rather than manual, so as not to blur the image. And the mighty Lumix fz200 did it's job.

I finished snapping and biked home in the dark. Was that really all there is to a Hollywood photo shoot? I suppose so. And in short order Dagmar did the rest with her design magic, turning my photo into a real Hollywood poster. Figures were added, figures erased, branches removed, banners hung... all kinds of changes. Employing her design wizardry, Dag transformed the original to something quite different. 

The final poster artfully captures a sense of edgy, dark, spooky gothic college setting, exactly filling the parameters of the poster project. So now this film is on it's way to festivals and venues everywhere... how exciting!  

The Sundance photo
I was clicking around on the Sundance site and was delighted to see another photo of mine.... rubbing shoulders with the Stars. Such a thrill! Well that was my Hollywood moment. Sigh... 

I wonder if I will ever really make it to Hollywood? Of course there was no cast party except in my imagination. Oh well, illustrators never get parties either.


Brian Lies said...

It's really interesting to get the behind-the-scenes on how something like a Hollywood poster comes to be. Congratulations!

John Nez said...

Thanks Brian! Mostly it all came about by chance - just like real life. :0)

Philomena said...

Very glamorous - and another feather in your hat!

John Nez said...

Thanks Philomena... I'm still waiting for Hollywood to call! I'll keep drawing bunnies to pass the time till then. :0)

Maryann Cocca-Leffler said...

John- Congratulations...Another Avenue. Now you need one of those cool chairs with your name on it!

John Nez said...

Thanks Maryann. It's fun to imagine... everyone wants to direct after all. And we can do that with our books at least... a little bit. (or with ebook apps we can do everything!)