I just had the opportunity to shoot a commercial for the state of Oregon in which we featured several holiday characters working out in a gym. Santa, Easter Bunny, and the Leprechaun were just a few of the crazy icons we featured. To say the least, it was a crazy shoot, but it gave me a great opportunity to work extensively with makeup and wardrobe: collectively known as “Beauty.”
I enlisted the help of Amber Arpin and Angelique Paull, extemely talented makeup and wardrobe people, respectively.
I learned so much from this experience that it is difficult to put it into a brief blog. To keep things simple, I will reduce my new found knowledge to one subject: Color.
When I wrote the commercial concept, I had envisioned a gym with a gritty, real life texture, and I was planning on treating the spot with a desaturated look with a bluish hue. After my first conversation with Angelique and Amber, I quickly realized that this would be a mistake. They launched directly into the color pallet with which they were planning on using for each character. I was amazed at their attention to detail.
For example, they produced several different Santa suits and showed me which ones would work best for camera. Some of the satins would bounce the light in an obnoxious way, while others would look richer and more natural. Further, they chose colors that looked complimentary. They knew from the script that Santa and the Leprechaun would be in a lot of scenes together, so they made sure that Santa’s red and Leprechaun’s green worked well together.
These are details that true professionals pay attention to. When you have the right members on your team, they will enrich your project in ways you never thought possible. This is the beauty of film, and this collaborative effort is what is so intoxicating about the job.
To further illustrate this point, take a look at each of the characters and notice the careful attention to detail. Tooth Fairy (below) is featured in a sky blue dress with matching wings. The scrunchies in her hair were color coordinated to her outfit with opposing, but pleasing colors. The tooth tiara and matching earrings were hand crafted, fillings and all.
As I mentioned above, Santa’s red suit was carefully selected to look pleasing on camera. His beard was also chosen to make sure it had the right curl. His character was supposed to look tired, so the flow of the beard was important. Amber added darker circles under Santa’s eyes to illustrate this. It was also decided that Santa was working out, so he wasn’t wearing his coat. Instead, he is donning a white henley, suspenders, and black workout gloves.
Easter Bunny was by far the most extensive. There were several conversations that asked the question, “Is this a guy in a bunny suit, or is this actually the Easter Bunny?” It was determined that-more or less-this was the actual Easter Bunny. So, a fake nose was chosen and altered, his face was airbrushed, and whiskers were added. What surprised me about this costume was the workout wear. I was envisioning just the white suit, but Angelique came up with the idea of putting him in pastel yellow shorts, a complimentary pink top, and a green visor. We elected to leave his glasses on. I thought it was a nice touch to suggest that Easter Bunny needs corrective eyewear.
Thanksgiving was one of the more challenging costumes. If you have ever taken a look at a turkey, you’ll quickly realize that they are truly hideous creatures. The parts from this outfit came from several pieces. The body was a standard turkey suit, but it only came in brown. Angelique added every colored feather by hand to bring some color into her costume. It didn’t come with any kind of hood, so the original plan was to do her hair to look like turkey feathers. At the last minute, they found a chicken hood that matched perfectly matched the body. Amber added the beak (which is actually for a chicken) and built a snood to hang over the top of the beak. I wanted to see a lot of Ayanna’s face and see her mouth, so Amber was careful not to choose something that hid too much of her. What you can’t see in the photo are the turkey’s legs. The feet of the suit were a bit beat up, so Angelique removed the sleeves from a thrift store sweater and converted them into leg warmers. This not only hid the wear and tear on the turkey feet, it also added dimension to the costume.
Cupid was one of my favorite characters. I was thinking that it would be one of the easiest, since there is so little to Cupid. Yet again, I was surprised by beauty. Amber found a wonderful Afro wig to go with Cupid’s disco look. They inserted a gold hair pick, built a custom quiver, and found a toy bow for him to play with. Angelique built Cupid’s heart necklace by hand. . . using only a glue gun. Amber added a heart tattoo on his shoulder, and what you can’t see in the photo is my favorite addition: Red high-top Converse with knee high socks. Truly an original.
Finally, we have the Leprechaun. I was really blown away by this costume. The only costumes available for rent featured full suits with tails, but since Leprechaun was working out, we had to go a different direction. Angelique found a green hat, added the green flower, and enhanced it with the stripped headband in the colors of the Irish flag. Amber made the beard. . . strand by strand. . . by hand, with the assistance of Jessie Blanchard. Not seen in this photo, is his red pony tail. Since he is the workout coach, Angelique put him in a snug fitting gold top with fingerless gloves, adorned with a four leaf clover. My favorite addition is the gold tooth.
All photographs in this post were used courtesy of Levy Moroshan. I hope you enjoy the fantastic portraits. Be sure to visit his website at www.levymoroshan.com.
There are so many other things I could talk about on this shoot, such as the handy work of my DP, Sam Garr, my gaffer Steve Waters, and others, but I’ll save my praise for another post.
Stay tuned. . .