Red Headed Woman: The Making Of

Red Headed Woman: The Making Of
So in honour of the nominations for the One Shot Movie Competition we thought we’d go behind the scenes and go into some of the details of how this video was made.

What really sparked our imagination was when Mirika came to us with an idea of using her friend Megan dancing in Alexandra Palace. The moment that we had those two elements we immediately knew we wanted to do it in one shot. The combination of one single shot, the choreography and such a grand location was too good an opportunity to miss. The problems standing in our way were a serious lack of budget and an even shorter amount of time in which to shoot it. The time factor mainly came down to the fact that our dancer would soon be leaving the country to move back to Australia!


So our first port of call was a technical recce at the location with Megan to try and work out how we could put it together. This involved really exploring the location systematically and feeling out the best way to make use of the entire space. We took along our camera and filmed small segments as we fine tuned various ideas across the room. After a couple of hours we had around three quarters of the movement worked out and had to call it a day. We edited a very rough test edit from the recce alongside the track. Using the floor plan of the space we mapped out the movement of the camera for the sequence. As you can see we were left with a gap between points “I” and “X”. This we were hoping to resolve at our second scout.

floor plan

Unfortunately we never got the opportunity for a second scout! We were rapidly running out of time for when we could shoot the video and it was decided to spend some time at the beginning of the day finalising the missing section. This pushed an already compressed schedule to the extreme. Although we had gained permission to shoot in the Palm Court room we were restricted to around three hours of use and the location was not closed down to the public. With a stripped back crew it required perfect timing to pull off the sequence.

The shot involved Megan, the Steadicam operator and the Director. In having to keep all equipment out of shot it meant carrying a 1×1 lite panel (to add extra light in the appropriate places) and the Playback unit (for Megan to be able to listen back to the track) behind camera. Overall we got exactly seven takes in the can. Seven! The first three of which were really only dress rehearsals as the middle section of the dance was still being finalised. Leaving us with four takes. The first of which was ruined by visitors walking in the background of the shot. The second was aborted half way through as the spin where the camera tilts up to the ceiling and whips back around to find our dancer just went completely wrong.

The penultimate take was useable but there was still something not quite right about it. We were already over time by this point and were trying to stall the coffee shop from putting all their tables and chairs out in the room, which would ruin the shot. So on borrowed time we decided on one last go at it. And that was the one we nailed. Sometimes one take is all you need!

Screen Shot 2012-09-08 at 00.24.11

After packing up we reviewed the film and made a few notes for some post work and then set about having some wrap drinks in the sunshine of Alexandra Palace’s gardens. Several people came down to join us later on and we promised a screening of the clip before setting off home. The reaction was incredible and one of the best feelings we’ve ever had from showcasing work. It really hit home that you need to screen your work whilst being there with your audience to get the feedback you need to spur you on. Too often it ends up on Youtube and you don’t get to see how your audience reacts in real time.

Post Production was a little longer than you might expect for a one shot video. Obviously we had already made the decision on which take we were going to use, so the editing process simply meant importing to Premiere Pro and trimming off the front and end of the clip whilst adding a fade in and out. We then cropped to a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and used this to our advantage to subtly smooth out the framing of the shot. There was then a lot of subtle work that went into adding a small amount of extra lighting to Megan’s face so that we could pick her out and see her eyes throughout which would let us connect with her. Reflections of the ring lite were removed from the pillars to avoid distracting from our subject and finally a grade was applied which was designed to enhance the colour of her hair.

Even though this video was shot a while ago now it’s fantastic that it can take on a new life and hopefully reach a new audience through the competition. More than anything we can’t wait for the next piece that presents an opportunity to shoot it in one shot!

Equipment Used

  • Canon 60D
  • Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
  • Steadicam Zephyr (rented form Optical Support)
  • LED Ring Lite
  • 1×1 Lite Panel
  • A couple of small LED lights hidden in the trees for a little background separation
  • MacBook Pros
  • Adobe Premiere Pro


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