24 November 2014:  Sunset, Heckfield, Hampshire.  Went to this beautiful place to paint a sunset and wasn’t disappointed.   A low mist descended, which made everything feel so romantic.  The downside was that it got really cold - so I was pleased to get back to my car and turn the heater on full!   I altered the tree a bit when I got back to the studio - making it more impressionistic to fit in with the rest of the painting.


Behind the Scenes stills from an upcoming musical series for the CW Seed & New Form Digital


Though this series shares the same creative team behind the short film I Ship It (myself, Brian Grider & Kirstyn Hippe, as well as much of the same key crew), we’re playing with new characters, new stories, and a new spin on a familiar universe. Thanks in large part to my wonderful cast, these characters and this story became real to me in ways I never imagined on the page, and I can’t wait to share them with you.

I’m anticipating some inevitable comparisons between this and the short film I Ship It, and while we hope that people who enjoyed the short film will enjoy this story, the two projects are intended to stand separately and your mileage may vary in either direction.

I loved Zoe and Charlie and the performances that Mary Kate Wiles and Sean Persaud gave in the short film. I think the story we told was special, and I was so happy to see people respond positively to it.

Our characters in this series - Ella, Tim, Sasha, and Denver - have different ways of responding to similar starting situations, and eventually find themselves on a new path of their own that explores fresh themes and different musical formats. I quite like them a lot, I hope you’ll give them a shot. :)

I also wanted to give a shoutout to our principle cast. Helen Highfield, Riley Neldam, Yasmine Al-Bustami, and Jacqui Calloway are some of the most giving, present, generous actors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with and I love them all to pieces.

It occurs to me that because this project is the largest scale production I’ve ever tackled from development through production, it might be worth diving into the process a little more while it’s still fresh in my mind, as I’ve done in the past on projects like Kissing in the Rain and I Ship It. Mostly for my own sake of cataloguing how my directing process is evolving/changing/staying the same over time, but if you’re curious about process-type things, maybe you’ll get something out of this too.

If you’ve ever wondered how I work with actors on a lengthier, shippy af project, here’s the answer!

Before production, I like to get to know my actors better so I can hear their voices as I tackle rewrites tailored towards the cast / location specifics. On this project, I was working with actors I’d never worked with before or known previously. They killed it in their auditions, but as a filmmaker, unknown variables are always kind of a scary thing. It’s why I tend to work with the same people over and over in my cast and crews - over time, you build a team of people who you trust to deliver. 

That being said, working with new people challenges me to try new methods and shake things up. It takes me out of my comfort zone, which I think is always a good place to push towards as a filmmaker. And in the best, most rewarding situations, it helps me discover new ways to work and be better. This shoot was a best case scenario in that respect.

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clairedaring  asked:

What do you think differs Zoe and Ella? What are some of the similarities between them and the thing that differs them from one another?

Thanks for this question! I’m a fan of both Zoe and Ella - they both share a spark of my own character in that they’re quite intense and creatively ambitious, maybe a little tunnel visioned too.

That said, Zoe and Ella have become very different in my mind, in large part thanks to the actresses (Mary Kate Wiles and Helen Highfield) who play them in the short film and the series respectively. Their musical sounds are also different - Zoe has more of a fast-paced, 90′s rock, All Time Low vibe, whereas Ella favors a folk-rock/indie pop, God Help the Girl sound.

Zoe is probably more independent - I don’t think she cares as much what other people think of her in the immediate sense - so what if you think it’s weird that she wears a yellow backpack and has a scary knack for popping up out of nowhere, that’s just how she does things. Zoe feels things very immediately and swims in those feelings, she doesn’t keep things bottled up very often. She’s fueled by a lot of rage-fire. Zoe’s also a vlogger, which is an element that went away in the series adaptation.

Ella is probably more insecure - I think she’s more likely to bury her feelings, if something seems emotionally complicated, you can bet she’s going to shovel that shit into a bottomless pit and run in the opposite direction. She has a lot of walls up but you wouldn’t know that right away, because she really wants you to like her. The exception is in her music - Ella has a post-grad entry level office job that she’s been doing for a while now, and she knows she isn’t happy there but it’s scary to do the things she wants to do full-time. So her feelings and frustrations work themselves into her music, with songs like Even Superman Has a Dayjob and Here Lies My Love Life

Ella has also known Tim longer than Zoe’s known Charlie - Ella went to college with Tim, she had a crush on him back when he was just a Shakespeare-reading dork. They work in the same office (Tim probably got her this job after they graduated), and they live in the same apartment. Tim and Ella’s lives are a lot more tangled up in each other’s from the start.

I think Zoe is also more motivated by her break up during the events of the short film - Peter Hackett is the main reason that Zoe signs up for the Battle of the Bands, Horcruxes is a break up song about getting over their shitty relationship, to prove that she can still be awesome without him (and she is), so when Peter wins the BotB, it’s an extra blow to her ego - she staked a lot of “winning the break up” on this. Also they used to perform together, and when they broke up, Peter basically found Zoe 2.0, another redhead who could sing and replace her seamlessly as the Ginny to his Harry. How could he do that, were you that replaceable?

On the flip side, while Chris Hackett is a bit of extra incentive for Ella to kick it into high gear, I think she was already considering signing up for the Battle of the Bands before she saw his name on the list. Chris played a large part in making Ella insecure and unsure of pursuing music for herself, he never took her songwriting / singing seriously enough to perform publicly with her. He also moved on with someone who’s like, your worst nightmare version of an ex’s new girlfriend - talented, gorgeous, great shiny blonde hair, the opposite of how you see yourself. Is that what he wanted the whole time he was with you?

So yeah. They’re very different characters despite having similar sparks of origin stories - Zoe and Ella approach the world differently, they manage their relationships differently, their insecurities manifest themselves differently.

I remember at lunch during one of our later shooting days, once we realized how different Ella and Zoe were becoming, @rachelkiley​ and I tried to imagine what these two characters would be like in a room together. Would they like each other? What would they talk about? They had a lot in common, but they were also totally different people. It was a trippy mental exercise.

‘Horse Masks'  100 x 110 x 100cm:  Hermès Winter Ball, Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney 20122 by Australian artist ©Anna-Wili Highfield

The sculptures are stitched together from archival cotton rag. The artist’s works explore the organic qualities and resistance of paper, generating a tension between the complex realism of form and the limitations and economy of the materials used. They represent animal life in an immediate way that conveys the energy, movement and physical character of different creatures. Her aim is to engineer a moment of contact with nature in a way that emphasizes both the startling differences and similarities of human and animal forms and consciousness.