Monday, January 17, 2011

Taking a Trip down the Rabbit Hole

After the success of Snow White and with the pending release of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, I decided to do my own version.  I emailed Perry with the idea and he was over the moon  We wanted to do an approach that was closer to the Arthur Rackham illustrations as opposed to the Disney version.  Then I started about the process all over again having learned a thing or two from the first story.

First off, I wanted to use three subjects as opposed to two.  But choosing the characters proved difficult.  There are so many amazing characters in Lewis Carroll's classic tale I was a little lost.  Alice was a given, and it really didn't matter to me that I wasn't blonde, it's my shoot I'll do what I want.  Besides I more wanted to capture the idea of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland without actually doing the story shot for shot.   There was also no way I could get the number of actors/model to do that.

After thought and consideration I decided to go with the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit. I also knew exactly who I wanted in each role.  For the Mad Hatter I wanted to use an actor named Jason Waszak, super talented nice guy who I knew had always wanted to play the Mad Hatter at some point.  For the White Rabbit I picked another actor friend named Nick Zajdel.  He had this sort of childlike, woodland creature energy that was perfect.

Then it was time for clothes.  The Alice dress, which is a particular favorite of mine, I had made months prior for a show that I had been in.  I hadn't gotten a ton of use out of it, so this was the perfect time.

Since I had the main fashion I decided that for this shoot I would try two new things for me. 1.) Men's wear 2.) Millinery .  I made both the Mad Hatter Hat and Vest for this shoot.  It started pretty much the same way, with a trip to my favorite place ever... that's right Goodwill.  I found some old black pillow cases and I knew I had some lining, that was for the vest.  The a trip to the craft store for buttons and hat fixings.
The vest proved to be way more difficult that I could've ever imagined.  See the thing about dresses, it that if  I make a mistake I can hide it some how or I can tweak it on my body as I go... I'm always there.  For Jason's vest I only had a sheet of measurements and my old singer sewing machine circa 1947 which make button holes a nightmare. However I was pleased with the finished product and I only had to have one extra fitting with Jason.

Now the Mad Hatter Hat, it wasn't difficult really, just new territory.  Lots of trial and error.
Yep, and Jason's pretty dreamy too.  I do know some good looking boys.  
You might notice that the hat is comically small.  My story that I've been telling people is that it was a choice, however that's not entirely true.  I just messed up my first attempt and only had enough materials to make the hat pictured above.

I started by by making a hat form out of the poster board and duct tape.  Then I used a really strong kind of craft glue and covered the form in pieces of an old velvet blazer that I cut up.  I put the brim through my sewing machine making my own bias tape from the scrapes of the Snow White dress, as well as the band.  Finally the 10/6 was cut out of a manilla folder with the edges burned.

Then it was onto prop shopping.  I hit up the stores Tuesday morning and Dollar Tree. I spent about nine bucks recreating the place settings for the Tea Party scene.


The white table cloth is my own bed sheet, and the over table cloth is a piece of fabric I bought years ago.  The white plates are also my actual dining wear as is the tea pot and pitcher.  The wall clock that Nick (White Rabbit) holds is also mine.  I basically ransacked my apartment for this shoot., but the out come was great.

The day of the shoot was warm, and I made the boys get up early again.  With this shoot I started doing hair and make-up call.  Meaning that they guys would have to be at my apartment a full half hour before the shoot would begin.  I'd look over clothes and do their make-up, then we'd all trek to the Urban Ecology Center to meet up with Perry.

I had scouted out the location a week before the shoot. I was another tough location to get to, this time we had three strapping men to cart stuff around.  There is a method to my madness.  When we reached the spot we set about paying with all kinds of different poses. 

I liked the look of this one, and Nick was a fantastic sport about lifting me like that for at least twenty minutes. Oh yeah I did grab his butt while I was like that, but there are no pictures of that.


This tree served as the entrance to Wonderland. There's Nick being handsome. Oh here's another.
The best thing about this shot was that Nick wasn't posed, Jason and I were shooting and Nick was waiting behind us like this.  I saw him and looked at Perry and told him to turn around and take a picture.  There is no lighting shift or photoshop, just a great shot.


However my favorite shot was inspired by this Rackham drawing.

And here is our version... 



So after about three hours and lots of giggling we finished the shoot, carried all of our stuff back out of the woods, and headed home.  It was a good day, and we had a great finished product.



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