For the past three days here at LSP, we have been working with Ned Mortimer on a video clip for London based band "August and After" featuring marionettes. This was my first time working with marionettes and I found it incredibly challenging and inspiring to operate these wooden characters on strings. The song we were working with, "Waltz for Marie" is very beautiful and I could see how the puppets would compliment this style of music exceptionally well.
After two short operating classes, we began our work, fleshing out the short scenario outlined by the band. The song's theme centers around domestic abuse and it was our job to capture this theme in our performance. I was very happy to receive the role of the husband (the abuser). Not because I support the characters actions, but for the challenge in operating this negative character in a way that would be clear to an audience. His movements were very subtle but still something I had to practice over and over and over to get it right. I also operated one of the ghost women in a sequence towards the end where they dance joyously with "Marie", the central character.
There were five of us operating the marionettes over the course of the shoot, working on a beautiful set built by my fellow student Alice. Alice is from France and is a carpenter by trade. Her work with wooden puppets is absolutely astounding and the set for this shoot was no exception.
Operating marionettes takes a lot of patience, co-ordination and dexterity. Head of LSP, Caroline Astell-Burt was there to oversee the work and give feedback on our operating; She said that operating marionettes on a regular basis will improve your work in every form of puppetry. I can absolutely see how this would be true, marionettes are by far the most challenging type of puppet I have worked with thus far. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and am determined to continue developing this skill till I have mastered it!
Ned was fantastic to work with; though filming posed a challenge for him as he is primarily a musician, he was incredibly enthusiastic, supportive and open. The video has now moved into post production and we await the final product with great anticipation. I will be posting the video up as soon as it is released. There will be some photo's in the gallery in the next few days.
After the shoot wrapped, we went for an excursion to Brimham rocks, a beautiful national park full of these amazing giant rock formations that you can climb up, over and through. This was a wonderful way to end our busy shoot, going from being confined to a tiny set in a dark room, to the freedom of being on top of a giant rock, looking out a huge expanse of land! Stunning.
Now we move on to pre-production for another film shoot: On Sunday we are shooting an advertisement in London for "The Real Bread Campaign" using lip sync puppets. Puppets of bread! Today we are rehearsing... in fact, I better get to it!
Stay tuned for the next installment.
For more about the band visit http://www.augustandafter.co.uk/