Finding ourselves in New York with an afternoon to spare, we were very fortunate to meet American model Melanie Gaydos. However, Melanie is no ordinary model. Beset by ectodermal dysplasia, a rare genetic disorder which affects the hair, teeth, nails, skin and sometimes even bone formation, she challenges the established conventions of what is beautiful just by trying. Wading into the world of high fashion, her appearance is as stunning as her twinned senses of humour and self-deprecation.
With only a limited available frame to work in, necessity had to become the mother of invention. Sometimes it just goes like that. The chief inspiration here was the hotel we were staying in, located in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. Its corridors had a particular atmosphere with banded carpet that seemed to echo the layout of each door. Couple this with a full-length mirror at each end and you had a sequential corridor which could lead on forever. With these mirrors in mind, a thematic script was born of a nascent girl falling under the spell of her own reflection – a reflection that ultimately goes on to replace her.
With the blessing of the hotel’s staff, we set to working quickly in what was a very live environment. With parties in adjacent rooms and other hotel guests coming and going we had to work fast. Shooting with a single LED light to replicate the practical downlighter in the corridor, we could just the right amount of the foreground light without it flooding the background. All in all, we were done in approx 45 minutes.
Looking through the stills, there was a lyricism to Melanie’s movements that deserved to animated. Electing to have a hesitant style of playback to better evoke the atmosphere of the scene, we set about stuttering the playback. Some frames sequences would run smooth, others would be more hesitant. In addition to this, we’d rotate the frame to make the world feel off-balance, which echoed the feeling of Melanie’s character.
Once the first edit was complete, it was sent off to Dylan Bell for an accompanying audio track. Again, pulling something unique of the bag, Dylan’s score was suitably strange that a further, shorter and tighter edit was made to better match the sound effects and score he had created.
Shot in the days before 4K cameras were commercially (or affordable), DSLR turned out to be a prescient choice. With its 5000+ pixel width, we now also had a 4K edit to go with the originally intended 1080p HD cut.