This is a guest post from the talented photographer and videographer, Anders Lönnfeldt.
A couple months ago, I was in London working together with artist & photographer Lukas Renlund on his photo project called Steal My Photograph!. It is a different kind of art exhibition where he encourages people in the street to steal his art. This was the third event of the Steal My Photograph! tour and now it was London’s turn. To promote the interactive art exhibition we wanted to produce a short teaser film for it. It turned out really well so I thought I could share my experiences with you.
We made this low budget video in five days. I had discussed the idea with Lukas before going to London, but there were still some things to sort out. One thing was sure, the main character would be Sherlock Holmes performed by Lukas himself. After we had arrived in London and settled down in the flat, we went to the grocery store to get us some pints of beer and then the brainstorming could begin.
One of the first tasks was to find a trustworthy Sherlock Holmes costume for rent. Lukas made a few calls to different costume shops and then we found a great one. I think we made their day at the costume shop when we told them about our idea.
Let me present the shots one by one.
Lukas designed the newspaper in a London bus on our way to get it printed. That explains how tight the schedule was. I was sitting behind him in the crowded bus, giving him some feedback on the design.
I took this shot at the flat we stayed at. Even if it looks simple, this shot was actually one of the most difficult one to shoot. I had to shoot it about 30 times to get it right. The shot got either too shaky, too slow or too fast.
Here we see Mr. Holmes for the first time. He is actually sitting in a Sherlock Holmes inspired restaurant on Baker Street. First we wanted to shoot the scene in the Sherlock Holmes museum on the same street, but it was too hard to get permission on such short notice. At this time the restaurant was crowded so we got an audience. Some of the restaurant guests even wanted to take some photos with us afterwards, which we thought was hilarious.
This shot wasn’t even planned on beforehand. We were actually planning to shoot another shot at this location when Lukas came up with the brilliant idea to get a reflection of Mr. Holmes in the puddle. You see the stairs in the upper right corner? In most of the takes there were people running up and down the stairs, so it wasn’t that easy to get a clean shot. And I was afraid of getting my camera wet since it was leaning on my tripod in the middle of the puddle.
This shot was a piece of cake. Nothing too dramatic about it. It was shot with the camera upside down, with me holding the legs of the tripod and having the camera about 10 cm off the ground.
This was one of the most cinematic, but also most demanding, shots to make. We found this narrow alleyway the evening before when we were out looking for locations. The location worked great for the shot we had in mind. Since it was lunchtime the alleyway was more like a highway; people walking through all the time. So we had to scream from different ends of the alleyway to each other when the coast was clear. The hardest part was obviously the turn from first walking towards him to then walking behind him. The alleyway was so narrow that the turn could only be done at one place, so timing was key. I’m really happy about this shot, it turned out pretty well.
The original idea for this shot was quite lame in comparison to the result. Mr. Holmes was only going to steal the art with his bare hands and run away. Not that epic huh? But then we came up with the idea that it would look cool if Mr. Holmes did a “Batman swipe”, as if he magically stole the art off the wall in one continuous swipe.
The shot is combined in post production by two different shots. In the first shot Mr. Holmes swipes his cape in front of the art piece. The second shot was just of the empty wall. After combining the two shots, I simply masked out the art piece.
Now to the golden shot of the teaser. I got inspired by the slow motion scenes in the Sherlock Holmes feature film and I wanted to try something similar. I had Lukas running as fast as he could through the shot, while recording the scene with 50 frames per second and finally slowing it down even more in post production. Lukas was so exhausted after the last take, and told me that this better be good since he is not going to run one more time.
During the first take I was lucky to get a pigeon caught on film just by accident. I instantly knew that I wanted to use the pigeon somehow in the trailer. Lukas also came up with the marvelous idea that it would look cool if the pigeon flies over the text. So we masked out the pigeon in post production.
We did the cab scene the last day of shooting, and I was a bit worried if we would find a cab driver who was willing to help us out with the video. First we walked around trying to find the right location. With the help of the Queen (performed by Lukas’ dear friend Caroline) we found a great street for the scene. Afterwards the two of them went scouting for a traditional black cab, preferably one without any stickers or ads plastered on it. This was easier said than done. I waited for about half an hour but finally they arrived and we we’re ready for the shoot. The neighbours also got interested so we got a great audience for this scene as well.
The plan was to do this scene in only one shot. But since the reflection in the window was so heavy in the previous shot that you couldn’t see through it, we needed to do one more shot a bit closer. In the end it worked really well I think.
It was too noisy to capture any audio inside the vehicle. Instead we recorded the dialogue separately prior to the shoot. And due to Caroline’s age and slight Danish accent she wouldn’t have sounded like the Queen, so we wanted to find a genuine English lady to say the line. We were having a break at a café when Lukas saw a lady across the street. He left his coffee and ran out to persuade the lady to do a voiceover for us. She thought our teaser sounded like a fun idea so she was more than happy to help us out. I took out my microphone from my camera bag and the recordings were done in two minutes.
One of the best parts of the production was to find the soundtrack for the teaser. I generally enjoy editing to music because you see things coming together more clearly this way. I listened through a lot of different tracks online when I found this track.
First I thought that the track was too epic for the video, but I just wanted to try it out for fun. And without having to edit that much it fit really well in the video. We watched the teaser with Lukas and laughed the hell out of ourselves. It worked so insanely well, but at the same time we were worried about the soundtrack being “larger than life” and making the video look small and non-serious. I marinated on the idea for a while and thought to myself that since we laughed so hard after seeing the video with music the first time, others will probably be amused as well. Even if they won’t take it a 100 percent seriously. But hey, neither did we. So we got the track and I’m glad we did.
Here you can see the final teaser. Please let me know what you think. And feel free to ask any questions about the production or what so ever. I’m happy to answer all your questions.
The teaser video seemed to have worked well on our London audience, since many curious people showed up for the interactive art exhibition the following weekend. I have edited a short film to show the weekend’s highlights. It can be found on my website.
Visit Anders Lönnfeldt’s website and Facebook for more of his work.
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