This summer, I ventured into unknown territory; I was coaxed out of my messy studio full of solo projects onto a film set covered in wires and neon tape. I was asked by my close friend, Isobel Barnes (central film school attendee, lover of coffee and all round most perfect human), to production design on short film MELVYN. The film is a comedy about a feud between driving instructors filmed in the style of a western, but Isobel didn’t have to say much more than ‘comedy’ for me to leap at the opportunity.
This task proved daunting having no prior experience in film making or production design AT ALL, but with the guidance of my sister, a flower that bloomed in film school, I was able to compile some illustrations and ideas to take to the first team meeting, which the director, James Albarn (talented writer and wearer of GREAT shoes), LOVED. All of the pre production was so much fun, I got to climb into the minds of the characters and organise props, but none of this was as fun as being on set. The shoot was four days of absolute pleasure, in sunny Suffolk with a kick-ass team full of high-spirited, kind and professional people- I DID NOT WANT TO GO HOME.
I learned so many things by observing what people were doing around me, how to look after the actors, what wires not to touch, how the clapper actually works.. the list goes on and on, but ultimately what I learned is that working with a team of passionate and creative people is something I get a lot out of. The life of an artist can become often isolated due to personal work or needing time alone to create and at art school especially, I have always been hesitant to collaborate. BUT, by being taken out of my comfort zone and having to be innovative there for a while, I have gained huge confidence in working with others which makes me eager to be more ambitious when I get back into the studio. Lesson learned: say yes to every opportunity because art and life are a beautiful feedback loop of experience and creativity!
The life of a production designer is beautifully inventive, you have to solve problems quickly, be prepared and open to new ideas constantly and most importantly carry scissors on you AT ALL TIMES. On set, I was always available to say ‘yes’ when someone asked me ANYTHING, production design or not, and I felt myself ever present in the moment, making sure I was getting as much out of the experience I could have possibly got. I just hope I can carry this mindfullness with me through the rest of my projects, art and life because it felt super great.
I would to thank Harry, Westlake, Marshall, Asmund, Isobel, Nick, Sean, James, Seb, Millie, Carys, Clifford, Sergio and Ewen for being the best team and the best introduction to film making a little artist could ever have wanted.