Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Behind the scenes on the set of the Luna Demise mini-series

On a bitterly cold Sunday morning in March, we swung onto the driveway of a rambling red brick farmhouse in a remote Yorkshire village.

Our host David emerged from his house and waved reassuringly to us as we piled out of the car, unloading far more luggage than should surely be necessary for four actors and a jewellery designer.  As he ushered us towards the long barn, which housed his professional photography studio, the remaining cast members, make up artists and film crew started arriving.

The barn. Somewhere in rural Yorkshire. Brrrr, it's a bit parky out.

This was clearly not going to be my usual Sunday....

Back in January, my good friend Katherine told me about a mini-series which she'd written and was putting into production.  It was an ultra low-budget project, in which she plays the lead character Luna, and expected to broadcast initially as short Webisodes.  She gave me a prĂ©cis of the plot and tone of the show and asked if I would be interested in supplying her with jewellery to use in one of the episodes.  Obviously, I jumped at the chance.  Having watched the trailer and pilot and read the draft script for the episode, I set about creating some bespoke pieces.

Having spent most of last year focussing on a couple of specific collections it was really liberating to work on some completely one-off, statement pieces.  Unconstrained by considerations such as scale, practicality, or the need to produce multiples, I could dig into my box of trinkets with gusto and do some really fun recycling.  Katherine loaned me her tailor's dummy, which allowed me to pin the materials in place as I went along and experiment with more sculptural arrangements.  I created a collection of mixed media jewellery, which included recycled Victorian brass drawer handles, antique metal belt buckles and copious vintage pearls.

Vintage pearl & brass shoulder-piece, created for the Luna Demise series

A selection of my Luna Demise jewellery collection set out ready for the actors

So a couple of months later I found myself on a film set for the first time, with a case full of bespoke jewellery, and my trusty toolkit.  The two make up artists & I set ourselves up in one of the outbuildings, which had been converted into a hairdressing salon (David also happens to be a talented hairstylist and qualified Trichologist.)  The actors chose the outfits they would be wearing for the shoot and started coming in for make-up.  As I only had a rough idea of what costumes they'd be wearing I'd also brought along several one-off pieces of jewellery from my stock, just in case the new ones weren't suitable.  Luckily all the bespoke pieces I'd made could be used.  I selected pieces of jewellery to go with each outfit, then adjusted them to fit each actor's measurements before helping to put them on.  Some of the pieces of jewellery can't actually be put on without assistance.  For example the chain mail necklace which has to be tied at the back with ribbons, and the complicated earring which links by beaded chains to an ear-cuff and hairslide.

Dressing the actors in their complicated bespoke jewellery

Photos by permission of Christopher West Photography

Once dressed & made up, the actors went into the studio for their character portrait photographs and some cast & crew ensemble shots.  I was trying to play it cool but as a total film-set newbie I was completely over-excited to see my jewellery being professionally modelled & photographed.  After a brief break for lunch the filming started in earnest.  I watched the first scenes from the sidelines  before I had to make myself scarce so the whole studio space could be used.  To be frank, the studio was pretty chilly even with all the lights blazing, so I was happy to hole myself up in the cosy salon with a cuppa.  I felt sorry for the actors in their basques, fishnets and short dresses, who were wrapping up in thick coats and huddling around a fan heater between takes.

Huddling around a fan heater in the draughty studio

The day's filming ended with the gory conclusion to the episode.  I don't want to give you any plot spoilers, but the final scenes required the impressive work of the special effects make-up artist and a fair amount of fake blood.  Also some hefty chains.  Excitingly for me, the jewellery which Luna had been wearing worked its way into the plot.  I was on standby with my toolkit so I could de-construct and re-construct the piece as necessary for the final takes.  I made sure I'd collected all the blood-splattered pearls from the studio floor before I left.

You can check out the promo trailer and pilot episode of the Luna Demise mini-series on YouTube here  (I should warn you, it's not PG!)

To see the Urban Magpie jewellery showcase film produced by Zepar Films, click here.

Massive thanks to Katherine for involving me in this project and to all the cast and the crew of Zepar Films for a fascinating and brilliant day.  Also big thanks to David Charles for his hospitality & incredible portraits and Christopher West for his ace behind the scenes photography.

Can't wait to see the finished film.  Now here's those stunning photos in full.

Photo by permission of David Charles Photography

Photo by permission of David Charles Photography

Photo by permission of David Charles Photography

Photo by permission of David Charles Photography

Photo by permission of David Charles Photography

Photographs reproduced by kind permission of David Charles Photography and Christopher West Photography