The Disenchanted Forest
Model: Erica Rey
Over a year ago I came across the location of an old Christmas Tree Farm that had burned down several years ago. All that really remained was the entrance, which consisted of a four tower castle. I knew I eventually wanted to shoot here, but I did not want to just shoot a random set. Being a unique location, I wanted to make sure the set was fitting for it. Aside with trying to find the right concept, I also knew it was going to be difficult to shoot as it is about 20 feet off the side of a road with undesirable surroundings to shoot with.
Well fast forward a year and I had all but forgotten about this location. While preparing for a new series I wanted to do, I was setting up a Disney style Princess Shoot with model, and professional princess, Erica Rey. Erica not only is a model, but she has a full assortment of Disney costumes, as she runs her own company where she can make an appearance at birthday parties, events, and more as just about any Disney Character you can desire. (https://www.facebook.com/BakersfieldFairytaleFriends) So while thinking of exactly what we wanted to do, I remembered this location and sent a shot of it to Erica. She quickly agreed it would work perfect for our shoot, and decided she wanted to do Snow White. So now it was time for the planning to begin!
Now that we knew what we were going to be shooting, it was time to plan on when and work out the details. Well as luck would have it Erica and I were set to shoot another theme in about a week, and figured we could work out details at that time. Being the social media whore I am, I of course had to post a teaser shot of the location to wet the people lips on what was to come. It wasn't but 5 minutes after posting the teaser shot, that I got a message from the owner of a demolition company informing me of his plans to demolish the site. When I told him my plans and asked if he knew when he would begin the demolition, he told me the paperwork was signed and should be some time the following week. This changed things real quick! I let Erica know and we basically had to cancel our already planned shoot and move ahead with this one.
Those who know me or have worked with me on any type of themes shoot know I take these fairly seriously and don't just jump into them. Instead I write out a script of shots I want, including list of props, and perform test of lighting ideas. In this case, all of these items were going to have to happen on the fly. I had a few key shots in mind, and was coming up with ideas on my way to the location. Once on the first location I instantly began to work on the lighting and feel I wanted while Erica got herself into costume and prepared. We were actually able to shoot everything needed at the Castle location within about 20 minutes. But for me, this one location and scene weren't going to quiet do it for me. I felt the shoot needed another part to it.
After wrapping things up at the Castle, we then drove a short distance to a local park, where I had a location idea to continue this set. Once on site Erica pulled out a glass lantern that she had brought, in thinking it would possibly work for a prop of some sort. I loved the idea, but was very unsure on how I could pull off making it work the way we envisioned. Usually on something like this I would of ran several test at home to try and get the technique down. But with the last minute nature of this shoot, I had to just play it by hear and hope to get something. Luckily Erica was a trooper, and was able to hold the lantern up while I attempted various was of lighting the scene, angle adjustments, and multiple shots.
The idea I had for the final shots involved a dark forest, but with some fantasy lighting that I had more or less accidentally done during a recent engagement session. By now it had gotten late and had actually gotten dark outside, making it easier to get the feel I was going for. Working with Erica meant that I had to worry zero about directing the model, and it was on me to just get the lighting right. So needless to say once I had my stuff in order it took about a 5 minute flow from Erica in order to get all the shots for the scene I needed. This is the benefit of booking experienced models, time is money, and when a model can do a shot in 5 minutes versus 2 hours, they are worth every bit of their cost. At this point all that was left was the final death scene I had in mind for the set. I literally came up with the final shot about 2 hours before we were set to shoot. Luckily I had some fake blood at home, and was able to stop by a store on way to the shoot and get the apple we needed. The only thing to figure out for the shot was how to accomplish her lying dead on the ground without damaging or dirtying up the wardrobe.
In the end I think the shoot was an overall success. Sometimes the best ones are the ones where you are forced to be creative and think on the spot. I am sure this is not the last princess collaboration you will see between Erica and I, but will serve as a good base to make sure each shoot is taken to the next level and ever growing. The full set can be seen following the link below, and feel free to share this set as you wish!