Above: Ella Henderson ‘Take Care Of You’
Tell us about making the move from photography to directing
It wasn’t a move as such, but more of a slight shift of focus (pun not intended) – I think they both inform one another, photography especially for directing. It definitely helps to conceptualize and picture an idea before I’ve even put pen to paper, as I always have some sort of visual reference stowed away either physically or mentally explaining how the finished piece might look. It can be a bit of a double-edged sword though because I like to have a lot of visual control when it comes to shooting and sometimes that’s not possible, but I think overall it’s a positive to be able to visualise shots as if I’m there behind the lens.
In Ella Henderson’s ‘Take Care of You’, you were able to collaborate with both her family and a drone artist to get the shots you wanted without having to be there in person. What was it like working remotely as a creative challenge?
It’s a very surreal process, as obviously there weren’t any commutes or physical meetings. It’s really easy to feel as though you’re not doing enough. So we counteracted that by working 24/7 haha. For the initial stages of this project, Lucy [Producer], and Jo [Graphic Designer] were operating from New Zealand, so during the day UK time I’d be smashing out boards with Lola [Storyboard Artist, treatment designer and researcher], researching and editing the animatic, to then ‘pass the baton’ over to Lucy and Jo in the evening to review and continue their end.
Creating something in the midst of a global pandemic, with a team working on it from the other side of the world, really relies more so than ever on collaboration and ensuring that a shared belief in the concept is established prior to anything being done.
Also, having an open dialogue with Ella from the very beginning meant I was quickly able to bounce mock-ups and ideas over to her, to get her input from a very early stage. It’s just really all about transparency and clarity from the get-go, as we’re all trying to make something great in a very controlled and fast moving environment.
Below: Ella Henderson ‘Take Care Of You Behind The Scenes’
How did you create the scrapbook look in Foxes ‘Love Not Loving You’?
We had an amazing design eye on if from the start. Our design veteren Jo was all over it, she helped us develop a design language to use throughout the project. We had an initial meeting where we discussed our hopes for the project, and explored ways we’d be able to overlay and collage multiple images and paintings without losing too much of the original shot, it was important that we didn’t distract too much from Louisa, and only used elements from our chosen paintings to emphasize moments.
Having a designer on the project sooner rather than later was also a massive help, she was able to mock up design concepts very quickly which meant we were able to make minute decisions regarding the look and feel of the final outcome before we’d even started rolling. This intersection of design throughout the project was paramount to achieving our precise ‘collage’-esque end result.
Talk us through the filming method you used in ‘Love Not Loving You’
It was shot and processed pretty much entirely remotely, as this was during the peak of lockdown it was an absolutely no go to have anyone in the room with Lousia – Luckily Si Lakos our DP lived around the corner so he was on hand from his car with remote access to the phone, this feed was then also pushed out to us live so we could see in real-time what the camera was looking at. We shot entirely on an iPhone 11 and had Lou on a Zoom call the whole time, allowing us to have an open dialogue throughout the day. When cards were nearing full her mum would upload proxies online and we’d review – like a well-oiled machine!
Both the editor, and designer were both on hand remotely in London and in Northern Ireland ready to go so that when footage came through draft edits and design layouts were underway almost immediately.
Below: Foxes ‘Love Not Loving You’
When you are able to return to directing and shooting in person, what are you most looking forward to?
Being around people! I think it’s super important to surround yourself and bounce ideas off of like minded people when working on something creative, and a crewed up shoot is exactly that. Also I miss taking sneaky pics of artists in between takes, people immediately become more relaxed when the camera isn’t rolling, so you know…obviously it’s the perfect opportunity to fire a flash right in their face.