Collaboration is something a lot of people talk about but I don’t think many have the good fortune to be a part of a true collaborative effort. I have recently been that fortunate.
I’d had an idea for several years for a studio shoot I wanted to do with a wardrobe made of film. A fair number of photographers have done things like wrap a model in film but I’d never seen an actual piece of clothing made of film. Not being a designer or tailor I couldn’t make the outfit myself and hadn’t been successful in finding someone else to make it for me – until this past February. I was headed to Trinidad to visit a good friend (and photographer) and to attend Carnival. My friend asked if there was anything in particular I wanted to shoot while I was there. Brendan Bhagan is well connected in the studio/fashion market in Trinidad so I asked if he knew of anyone who could do the film wardrobe idea. He made some inquiries and after a few days told me to ship some film down. He’d lined up a local designer to make the piece, had a studio location to shoot it, an MUA to do the makeup and a model to wear the piece. All of these folks are established professionals in the industry in Trinidad and the Caribbean but all generously gave of their time and skills freely for this project. After talking concepts with Brendan we decided he’d shoot the stills and I’d do a ‘behind the scenes’ style video. The wardrobe turned out amazingly. Jewel Lewis, the designer took my concept, made it her own and made it reality. ReneeLiza Seeramlal came up with a very creative makeup style, echoing the idea of frames of film. Serala Ramlogan, the model, put up with the edges of the film scratching and cutting her legs for over two hours and made the piece look fantastic. Brendan’s stills are, as usual, excellent. And James at TriniPulse has a great space to shoot in.
On getting back to Canada, I set to work cutting the video together and decided to sync it to Def Leppard’s “Photograph”. Seems logical, right? Unfortunately, even though the video wasn’t for commercial purposes, we couldn’t use the song because we didn’t have a sync license. I play a bit of guitar so thought I might write a song myself. I might have something workable a year or two from now. Then in early summer an old friend from Calgary contacted me out of the blue after we hadn’t talked for a few years. Aside from it being great to reconnect with an old friend, Gerry’s an extremely good guitar player, has a blues/RnB band of his own called Borderline and knows many others in the industry. He put me in touch with some friends of his in Chicago from the band Finneus who have just released a new CD and they were willing to let us use one of the songs off their new disc in our video. How cool is THAT?!? They’ve got a very cool sound and I highly recommend checking them out.
Toronto and Calgary, Canada, Port of Spain and Arima, T&T and Chicago USA. Four countries, 5 cities, 11 people. In some cases people who’ve only met once and in some cases people who’ve never actually met except via email. If that’s not collaboration I don’t know what is. We’re all professionals and while we obviously want to be paid for our efforts, sometimes there’s more to the game than money.
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the people who were involved in this project and helped turn nothing but a concept into reality. I hope none of them regret being involved.
There’s one other person who needs to be mentioned as well. That’s a very talented woman named Orchid Alli. Jewel made two pieces with the film; the dress in the video and a swimsuit. We did a shoot with the film swimsuit at one of the beaches in Trinidad. Just as Serala did in the studio, Orchid put up with the edges of the film scratching and cutting her. I did the stills on that shoot and did not come close to doing Orchid justice so those won’t see the light of day. Thanks Orchid for your patience and professionalism.
A 720p version of the video can be seen on Vimeo and a standard def version is below.
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