Stage 1 – Images
The first step was to visit all of the locations I desired to feature in the MEMORIA film which would later be shot with a model. This was to gage a deeper understanding of the layout of each of the structures and analyse what certain areas need to be used as key focuses, whether it involved fixating on particular details of the building or stunning scenes of nature. Upon returning to the three selected locations after my initial location scouting, involved me solely taking photographs of the spaces in order to have visuals of the structures from multiple viewpoints and be able to refer back to when planning specific shots and thinking of ideas for how the model can interact and exist in the space. At two of the locations, the weather was relatively calm. There was no rain or strong winds and it was also relatively sunny, allowing me to find places in each of the structures that created some interesting shadows and, particularly in St. Mary’s Church given the unpredictable nature of the structure itself given that the church sits in ruins, covered in foliage introduced some stunning and peculiar areas where the natural light could be accessed, thus creating beautiful imagery. In Hampstead Heath Hill Garden & Pergola, it was lightly raining at the time of shooting, however, it was also sunny so, fortunately, the rain did not have the negative effect on shooting as I thought it would.
Upon revisiting these locations after choosing to make them the three primary shoot locations for the MEMORIA film, I got such a stronger gage on how to harness the essence of the spaces. Because, at this stage of the process, this is just for me personally, in terms of thinking about specific areas of the structures I wish to focus on in depth in order to capture the immense detail in the design or framing for a wide-shot to display this spectacular grand yet seemingly modest architecture was incredibly riveting and interesting. I spent approximately two hours at leach location, scanning, studying, and learning the best ways in which each location could be shot and this time taken to fully understand my surroundings and environment meant that thinking about moving on to filming footage at each location became far less daunting of an idea and became something I suddenly looked forward to and was excited about. As I stated on the previous page, at Hampstead Heath Hill Garden & Pergola, the weather conditions were not as good as when I visited the other two locations, although this did not negatively affect shooting as it was solely a photographic shoot this time around. Going forward, however, it is vital that I ensure, as much as I can, that I choose a date in advance that is predicted to have sunny, relatively calm weather. Weather conditions can be very unpredictable, and it is important that I ascertain a time period that allows the best lighting for each location as they all very open structures so I am heavily reliant on nature being on side for the coming shoot dates. As clearly displayed, here I have experimented with a wide range of angles, viewpoints, focused on lighting, and discovering points of shadows that are cast by the natural light at all three of the locations. Documenting and focusing on these types of details are vital to being successful in embodying the true feeling of what it is to experience these spaces. Both the details and the locations in their entirety are equally as important.
Stage 2 – Locations Video Footage – Contact Sheet
The next step was to again, return to the three locations, where I then shot video footage using a digital camera. It was here that I used my prior exploration and further understanding of the spaces as structures as well as the specific details and areas that held a certain charm or included interesting patterns or worked in tandem with the natural light in a certain way that created amazing visuals. This prior knowledge and deeper understanding of the structures and planning of particular things I wanted to capture in order to really encapsulate what the locations evoke and cause the individual to experience once immersed in these spaces. It is vital that the magic and true sense of wonder and importance of these locations is embodied to be absolute best of my ability as they are truly special places and hold such powerful significance, not only in design and architecture but in faith, spirituality, and self-discovery. The next visits were carried out within a week of the first, and the weather conditions were, fortunately, quite sunny, dry days which was amazing as this time it allowed me experience all three of the locations in the same environment. When returning to St. Dunstan in the East, it was slightly cloudier and as I was leaving the location, there was light rain but fortunately that did not affect shooting.
All stills displayed over the next three pages were taken from a selection of the video footage I took upon revisiting the three primary locations that will be featured in the MEMORIA film. The full clips themselves can be found on my blog. As actual video footage was taken at these locations this time around, I have decided to discuss all three of the locations separately, as opposed to previously with the photography shoot whereby I commented on my findings collectively, as I felt that I have now delved even deeper into these spaces thus noticing more details about each of the locations. The primary aspect I tried my best to highlight when shooting at St. Dunstan in the East was to capture the beautiful arched structure for the windows from the ruins as well as the way in which the nature element seeps through the structure, moulding the beauty of both the architecture and the nature together to create a visually stunning space. The ruins themselves cover quite a lot of ground and are still in excellent structural shape and interact with the natural light in the most beautiful ways, so being able to capture that was essential during this shoot. Out of all three of the locations I visited, I gathered the least footage from St. Dunstan in the East. This was predominantly due to how busy the location was. Even though it isn’t considered your typical London tourist destination it is still one of London’s hidden gems so many people seek it out. I found that this was mostly in order to get a picture with themselves in it for their Instagram accounts, which I can’t really blame them for, it’s such a visually stunning space, however once they got their picture most people left without fully taking in the truly spectacular structure they were surrounded by which I felt was such a shame. The sheer volume of people present during my time here also meant that a lot of the types of shot I wanted to do, running along the full length of the wall facing the sun through the arched windows for example became near impossible unless I angled the camera above closer to the top of the structure which proved to look slightly odd when I looked back at the footage. I tried to go at a time I considered wouldn’t be too busy considering it was mid-week at between two and three-thirty in the afternoon, however I only had the place to myself for around five or ten minutes before the next influx of people would enter the space.
Hampstead Heath Hill Garden and Pergola grounds are about three times larger than that of St. Dunstan in the East with so many different and interesting elements to it and so many ways in which to view the space in terms of vantage points and experiencing different sections of the location from different perspectives. This aspect of the space was incredible for me in terms of gathering amazing material and in quite a high volume, as after the first photographic shoot, I got a sense of the specific areas I wanted to capture and the variations of how I wanted to capture it. For example, it was imperative that the details of the nature element and the dome-like wooden structures that created the most amazing strong, solid lines and interacted beautifully with the natural light shining through to cast the most spectacular shadows on the concrete. So, it was paramount that I considered both the pure grand nature of the structure in terms of size, and how to capture the pure wonder and powerful presence that this location emulates, in both wide-shots of the space as well as using tight and close-up shots of particular details that I thought important to highlight and focus on in order to get a balanced view of the space. I was fortunate enough to be blessed with in shooting at this location with only a few people around, which surprised me considering it was around Sunday lunch time. This provided me the freedom to gather footage with myself being the sole being in the space for most of the duration of my time there which I was very grateful for. Another positive aspect of this shoot was that the weather was significantly better than my previous visit as it was a sunny, calm day, thus allowing me to observe and experience the location with the best possible conditions to shoot with my model. At this location, it was imperative for me to find ways in which I thought would be quite unorthodox and different in terms of how to interact with the space and how I could possibly introduce quite a chaotic feel to such a stunning place of solitude and self-discovery. Therefore, I chose to experiment with pace. For example, when shooting most of the detailed, close-up nature shots I would go very slowly and follow the lines of the nature and how a tree branch would bend to the shape of the pillar it was snaking up surrounded by beautiful bright green leaves, then when I would sprint up the stairs with a uniform row of pillars either side of me and through to another area of the structure where I would abruptly stop and turn, trying to assert a feeling of urgency and potential fear and uncertainty which proved very interesting as this has the potential to be quite an eerie space in the right circumstances. So, by showing a combination of displaying the quiet, calming nature of the space and the potential fear presented in how hidden and secluded it is was so satisfying to play around with as displacing the location in this way allowed me to see ways in which I could experiment with inserting the model into these types of shots going forward.
Although the ruins of St. Mary’s Church are quite small, particularly compared to the other two locations, there is definitely not a shortage of opportunities to gather some truly mesmerizing footage. Much like at Hampstead Heath Hill Garden and Pergola, the importance on focusing on shooting both wide-shots of the full exterior of the space as well as the small, intricate details present throughout the structure was paramount in seeing how I thought about what I wanted to highlight with the model present in the location. The shoot day for this location could not have been more perfect. I arrived at the space on a weekday at around two in the afternoon and stayed for over two hours. I just simply got lost in the space – I have never experienced a location like it. The ruins have such a formidable and powerful presence and you can feel the religious and spiritual essence radiating throughout the space. With the way that the sun invaded through the window spaces in the structure and through broken gaps in the walls created the most spectacular visuals and cast some of the most amazing shadows. There are so many interesting and intriguing elements of this space that it is impossible not to become fully immersed in the pure wonder of it – pure admiration is what I experienced here. Hopefully, the footage I have gathered relays that as I have pursued to convey so much attention to every inch of this location because it is such a special place. There is one specific area of the ruins that is one of the best paradoxes I have ever observed in a space like this. There is a tower and nave located at the west of the structure that is a small square grid that is enclosed except for its entrance and empty window space. At least that’s what it appears to be. Upon setting foot inside the square space, I was instantly struck with how it felt simultaneously entrapping and freeing but when I looked up: magic. At the peak of the tower lies an open space covered in nature that, when the sun shines through, creates the most mind-blowing views – it is absolutely breath-taking. Filming both from the main space inside the walls of the ruins looking into the tower as well as filming from inside the tower itself looking out into the rest of the ruins and above to the sky proved to be some of the best shots I produced from the footage at this visit. It is vital that I plan meticulously my next visits to this particular location as the way in which the weather conditions effect the standard of lighting, specifically, at this location is paramount in achieving the most visually dynamic footage. I am excited most to shoot at this location with my model as I feel that I can use the various camera angles, vantage points, and specific details that I have experimented with here and apply them to guide her through the space and see how a live presence effects the aesthetic and essence of the location itself as it has such a rich spiritual energy.
Stage 3 – Locations/Model Video Footage – Contact Sheet
Returning to the three locations with my model was the third and final step in this process. From having at least two prior visits to each location and understanding my surroundings and interesting ways to capture the spaces, as well as ascertaining specific areas of focus in each location and whether that spot had particularly good access to the natural light, because although they are buildings they are all open structures. This aspect can be a curse or a blessing, all dependent upon the type of weather conditions you experience. So, after planning the ways in which I thought would be interesting and visually dynamic for the model to interact with the space, I travelled to each location with the model in wardrobe and the first thing I did was let her just wander through the entire space, immerse herself in it, really let her feel like she was “in it” and she was experiencing emotions and was feeling whatever energy the spaces were feeding her. As I have previously expressed, these locations are all incredibly special and unless you have experienced them it is incredibly hard to articulate just how emotionally charged they all are. They make you feel such strong and powerful emotions that you didn’t think possible, just sole imagery and video footage do not do justice for the experience itself.
Carrying out a test shoot with the model in the three primary locations was the final stage before capturing the final video footage for the MEMORIA film. Ensuring that the styling I paired with each location looked aesthetically pleasing and was a combination of alien and compatible with the environment was key in creating that feeling of loss and discovery simultaneously that is paramount to the essence of what the film stands to represent. After three prior visits of each location, at this stage, having such an in-depth knowledge of these environments meant that knowing how I wanted to incorporate the model came quite easily to me – I just didn’t know how it was going to turn out with left me feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness. Experimenting again with camera angles, viewpoints as well as pace in terms of following the model as well as the nature elements that curve and bend, snaking around the ruins of St. Dunstan in the East were vital in furthering my understanding in what worked well factoring in both the space and the model. Establishing this relationship between the two elements is detrimental to evoking the types of feeling I hope that this footage creates. These are ultimately feelings of freedom, escapism as well as contradictory emotions of displacement and loss. Staging a combination of static, natural poses as well as sequences whereby the camera journeys either through the structure to later include the model or to follow the model at the start of the sequence through different areas of the space. The outfit for this location is a pair of straight leg vintage Adidas track pants with the iconic three stripe side detail and bright blue poppers lining all the way down the side of the leg. This was paired with a bright white high neck long-sleeved cropped top. With the sleeves and bottom hem of the top being elasticated and very tight fitted to the skin, along with the metal poppers that started at the neck and staggered down halfway down the length of the arm introduces a feeling of entrapment and struggle, as the top itself emulates the silhouette and structure of a straitjacket which I thought brought an interesting element to the look. This is juxtaposed with the floaty blouse-esque effect of the fabric used produces a feeling of being free. The popper element present in both the top and trousers of the outfit were interesting to experiment with in terms of getting shots of the model un-popping them and then fastening the clothes back into place. This disruption of the original silhouette of garments created some interesting visuals and is footage that will work well when it comes to editing to the beat of the track I will use for the film. Completing the look with some classic Nike Air Max 95s makes the overall feel of the look casual and relaxing but also stylish and on-trend.
At Hampstead Heath Hill Garden and Pergola, I took the same approach as the previous location. The three clips I have selected to display serve as great examples for the vast variety of footage that I gathered upon revisiting this location with my model. The first showcasing the ways in which I have experimented with vantage points and camera angles in how I capture the model in this beautiful landscape. Placing the camera on the floor, fixed to the same spot as the model crosses the camera, to capture this shot enables me to get an interesting wide-shot, keeping the model’s whole body in shot for the maximum amount of time before she exits the shot. This also creates the feeling of the nature present in the space fully enveloping the model, paired with the stunning shadows that are generated through the blazing sun and the wooden panels that sit in a grid-like structure running continuously over the pillars that outline the space. The second clip I selected, mirrors that of the clip I chose for the previous shoot at this location, whereby the camera adopts a hand-held erratic feeling as it navigates through the space at a fast pace. This time the camera follows directly behind the model as she sprints through the vast, empty column until she reaches the very edge, even going as far to lean over as if she will fall. This was successful in achieving the effect I predicted it would in the previous video shoot here, with the model the feeling of escapism and experiences a potential sense of fear, displacement and sense of not belonging here is apparent and there is great intensity in a clip of this style illustrated by the way in which the camera follows behind her, thus bringing great depth to the shot. I will definitely experiment further with this particular type of shot as I think it creates an interesting juxtaposition with some of the more static shots I have also produced as well as maximises the conflict presented by the film itself of freedom and the fear that lies with the unknown. The third clip is a great example of the kind of static shots I experimented with at this location. Holding on a shot, ensuring that it has an interesting composition and maintains balance and harmony is key to producing enticing and aesthetically pleasing footage. I loved the wide-shot photographs I took of the exterior of the structure and felt that by incorporating the model into the shot in this way, experimenting with an over-the-shoulder shot that marries the two elements together in a way that emphasises their equal importance and clearly establishes the connection they share.
These clips were selected in direct response to the chosen footage taken to showcase some of the important focal points from the previous visit to St. Mary’s Church. Focusing on the external attributes of the ruins, as well as heavily close-up details of the stone walls and the spectacular tower and nave that introduce such an enthralling and hypnotic element to the footage. Usually, I refrain from using shots whereby the focal point is framed in the centre of the shot, however, in this case, the shots that capture the model smoking looking head-on into the camera lens are stunning shots that I will definitely feature prominently in the MEMORIA film as they are just so powerful. The way the light beams down through the open section of the top of the tower bathes the model in such soft, beautiful light, almost like a spotlight, highlighting the presence of an unfamiliar element existing in this forgotten space, thus illuminating the connection between the two elements. After realising just how special the tower footage was, from the vantage points of shooting from both the outside looking in and the inside looking out into the rest of the ruined structure, I mirrored the frame set-up exactly to the shot captured on my presence visit and shot the model slowly walking into the shot. A strong sense of calm, exploration and wonder are present in this shot and as she turns in the centre of the frame to approach the camera, getting closer and closer worked wonderfully. The shot remaining static and in place with the model interacting solely with the structure and not paying any attention to the camera, only on her surroundings made it so much more intimate and delicate, almost fragile. I wanted to split up the visits to the three locations in this way, (solely photographic, video footage of just the space, then inserting the model before final filming) as my thoughts and ideas on the project evolved. It was vital that my constant and frequent interactions with the locations to inform my vision as I delved further into this process of experimentation until I was certain about specific shots that I knew had to be captured.