The shoot was for the March 2011 issue of Madame magazine, and it was the most fun, and most challenging to date.

Photographer: Matthew Brodie
Accessories editor: Natalie Manchot
Art Direction: Hattie Newman & Matthew Brodie
Make-up: Barbara Bräunlich
Hair: Keiichiro Hirano
Model: Hannah Hardy

I had worked on a little still-life job with the brilliant and talented 3D illustrator Hattie Newman earlier in the year and really wanted to do a project on a bigger scale and in a fashion context, so we got together and worked up some ideas to present to Madame, who have always embraced the more extravagant ideas of mine.

They chose the dress story, so we set to work designing dresses. We really wanted to create something beautiful from a material that doesn’t normally lend itself to being draped and shaped on a living being, it had to be apparent that it was paper, but not because it looked shit.
For about a week we toiled in the studio creating designs with tissue and brown paper, a real Jack and Jill, seeing what would work and what wouldn’t, a lot more didn’t work than did, paper is not a malleable material, but eventually the idea showed itself to us and we had five dresses and props that we’d make.

After another week prototyping, having a lot of fun mucking about in brown paper, we nervously began making our finals, by far the hardest and most consuming was the papercut peacock dress. 16 panels of intricate papercut seams to attach with nothing showing, all while trying to maintain the bizarre mushroom-like form….

I met with a friend Demetrios Psillos for lunch, now a well known illustrator of beautiful imagery (you can see his work weekly in the Guardian Weekend) – he was once John Galliano’s pattern cutter and print designer. I coaxed him back to the office to have a go at making a dress from A3 sheets that we were stuck on. I was confident he would do a great job, and lo-and-behold, he came up with something fantastic in just over an hour!

Then it came to shoot day, all hands to the deck, paper crazy, paper fun, everyone and their assistant mucked in, so a big thank you to them all for going the extra mile.

The best shoots are always a challenge, time and budget constraints leave you working in your own time late into the small hours and often asking others to do the same, but when you are confident that the results are going to be worth it you muscle through, because it’s always worth it, and it’s always great when a magazine such as Madame lets you indulge your creativity.

Fifteen years ago (wow was it really that long ago?) I made my first ever trip abroad. I was 18 and at the end of studying a National Diploma at Falmouth. It was Final Major Project time and I wanted to do something big. I was reading Tales of The City and through happenstance San Francisco seemed like a great place to go.

I was so excited using my first passport, even if I did look like a girl in my picture
passport

My project was very naive and pretty crap to be frank, the new and exciting glitz of a different culture, especially one so diverse as San Francisco’s meant I shot everything and anything, thinking it was great.

I did come away with a few images I really liked, and still like to this day. One if them, I call the cowboy shot, was printed really big for the exhibition, and unfortunately I never got the neg back, so I only have a couple of 12″x16″ and a 5′x3′ print, but I got the shot at least.

It occurred to me today that I could maybe find the street I took it on using Google Streetview, and after a bit of searching I found it. Rather serendipitously there is also a person crossing in front, like my shot. And it’s gratifying to know the Ocean Market and Deli still exists.

cowboy
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In another shot taken in Chinatown where I stayed it seems Bob’s layaway plan may have come to fruition. However his legacy lives on, and watches are still being repaired. And of course, no more sin-sational videos, thanks internet.

kearny


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Casting Lee SS10/FP10 collection, patient people on a cold day

I recently shot a story for Madame magazine (May 09 issue) using my favourite theme: scale. The idea had been sitting on my sketchbook for a while and I finally got to shoot it.

The Ames room is an optical illusion created by a distorted/forced perspective. Objects or in this case people appear twice the size on one side as the other. The same technique was used in the Lord of The Rings films.

There are no manuals or books to tell you how to build such a room, at least none that I found, and I searched hard. So I had to go back to school and dust off my brain to work out the excrutiatingly (for me) complex trigonometry involved.

I blueprinted the room, which was also excruciating. From a very early age I wanted to be an architect, it was my dream for years until I reached my teens and found out that architects have to draw vents and RSJ’s and support columns, and then the dream was shattered. I blueprinted the room down to every nail, so the construction could run like an Ikea wardrobe.

This is the boys and me building it. I loved that nail gun.

And this is José shrinking and growing

The shoot crew

shoot crew

you can see some shots from the story in the gallery here

MAN ON WIRE

The washing line this morning looked like a tightrope walker had lost his balance.

dinner

bangers and mashThe beginning of my bangers and mash. I see this face almost every week and every week I regress to being 6 and laughing.

 

eiffel tour

 

 

 

Not the usual view from the the Eiffel Tower as there is a fence caging the platform in case you want to throw yourself off. I have to admit I did wonder if it’s possible to clear the lower platform. I know from cliff jumping you can only really throw yourself out so far before you stop moving forward and just fall.

Strange objects accumulate on the ledge; coffee stirrers, steel spoons, cigarettes, shoe laces, even a golf tee. 

I’m glad the French decided to keep it, even if it was just for use as a radio tower.

Pulse

picture-271picture-28While the fashion shows were on in October I decided to keep myself busy with something other than shoots and ideas. My friend China is a director and writer and we go and see a lot of movies together and talk alot about the processes, so I thought I would try my hand at filmaking, not to any ends, it really was just an exercise in creativity, I don’t think I have a great novel or movie in me, but I get a lot of pleasure from just doing ‘stuff’.

Best to start small, I would write a short story, 15 mins.

My approach to ideas is as i’m sure, shared by a lot of people. I brainstorm words and simple concepts, write them down and as they evolve I usually hit a wall. If I try and force the idea it never works, I can get very het up and frustrated, so I sleep on it. Then in the middle of the night I will wake with a clearer mind and write or draw the story. I approached this the same way.

For about a week I woke up with snippits of plot and jotted them down. All based on things that happened to me in my teenage years, best to start with what you know. Then when i felt i had enough to start, I got my head round some open source screenwriting software celtx and began to write (to choral music of all things, the only music that would focus me and not distract. I usually grab my guitar every few songs and play along. but I’m no baritone. Fortunately).

The story is centred around two characters, a boy and a girl. Yes, sounds predictable already doesn’t it. Apparently there are only 7 types of plots, and every story is one or a combination. these are them:

1. Overcoming the monster
2. Rags to riches
3. A journey – the quest
4. A journey – the voyage and return
5. Comedies
6. Tragedies
7. Rebirth

Mine probably ticks nos. 3 and 5. For all intents and purposes it’s a modern Cinderella without the rags to riches. Girl loses her arm, boy finds it and tracks down girl, comedy ensues. If I get to make it, I think the trick will be to make it in such a way it’s not too predictable, or too earnest or clever either. But fuck it, it’s my first attempt, can’t expect it to be great.

China was good enough to read my drafts and give me some invaluable feedback, and recommended I submit it to Pulse London.

Another friend George is a producer and after a read was willing to put his name to it. So in a last minute frenzy we cobbled together a treatment, shoot schedule and budget under the £12,000 permitted and submitted it to Pulse.

Lot’s of people submitted apparently, 3 times more this year than last in fact, some 500+. I know because not only did it get mentioned in the thank-you email, but someone forgot to Bcc and instead CC’d everyone, and now I get bulk emails from the other applicants asking me to vote on their youtube films. At least now i know what i’m up against.

So here’s the anti-climax, the decision isn’t made until the end of January. But we have our fingers crossed. I will update as soon as I find out, for good or bad.

Keith

A director friend China Moo-Young was shooting a music video for Keith‘s new single Lullaby, and asked if I would like to come and shoot some stills.

The first half was shot in a nightclub with the wicked dancer and actress Sarah MacDonnell busting some freestyle moves, and the second half was shot in Hackney with the boys (truly nice lads, good music too) and Sarah walking/dancing down the streets.

The shots don’t do it justice but check out the video here

sarah-18.jpgsarah-17.jpgsarah-13.jpgsarah-05.jpgsarah-10.jpg

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