For a long time, both myself Berlin-based fetish model Sinteque had discussed shooting a video together. A well established and highly regarded figure in the burlesque and fetish scene, this would be something new for her team and also pose an interesting challenge for us in bringing the highly reflective aesthetic of latex onto film.
The first part of the pre-production process was to establish the scope of the shoot. With this in mind, Sinteque sourced a wide and divergent range of exotic fashions from several key designers in the latex world. First, there was a red dress from Brigitte More, a wild, tyre-based ensemble from Japanese designer Kurage and a cheeky leopard-skinned catsuit from HW Design in Vienna… And this was all great, except for one thing:
This is March 2020. The Covid-19 virus is well on its way to becoming a global pandemic and all of our dresses are coming from the four corners of the earth…
Fortunately, Sinteque had long-standing relationships with the designers and with a lot of patience from all concerned, all of the dresses arrived with days to spare. Now safely here, myself and colleague, Marie Overgaard met up with Sinteque to see the dresses and check out the location space at Feisty Cat Studios in Berlin. Test shots were taken and plans were made for the eventual shoot, which given the nascent Covid-restrictions would mean that this was going to be a very closed-off set and minimal crew. In the end, it was really minimal with me, Marie, Sinteque and her kind-hearted husband and fellow photographer Berserker who set about the three-day shooting schedule ahead of us.
Working with a series of preexisting walls and studios props, we had three concepts to shoot. First would be (“Serafina”) which would centre on a red-dressed madame whose valuable time and attention is stolen by one of her house guests. Taking our cue from the red decor and silver furnishing that we had to hand, we were able to elongate the available space we had to shoot. As a result, similarly-coloured, virtual fake walls were dropped in courtesy of some visual effects and a brand new foley track was re-recorded from scratch for every sound effect present.
On day two, it would be the turn of the character “Yuna” in her tyre-based outfit from Japanese designer Kurage. This shoot would present its own unique set of challenges as the outfit was very tight, which made large body movements difficult and that we could only shoot for relatively short periods of time. The solution was to shoot an assemblage of contrasting, close-ups all doused in flashing LED studio lights to mimic lightning.
With day three, it was time to introduce a bit more levity into the proceedings with a thumbnail storyboarded adventures of a thirsty cat-burglar who’s intent on getting some cream. In some ways, this was the most direct of the three shoots, however, its directness certainly paid high dividends with a speedy turnaround in the editing suite. Whilst still requiring a lot of rotoscoping and clean plates (similar to the first day’s red dress film) this one (which featured the character “Kitty Mischief”) was without question the funniest to complete. Filled out with interim storyboards (when it was discovered that some additional pick-up shots were needed), the pace and playfulness were all clearly evident in the first rough edit.
Shooting in 4k with Black Magic Film Design’s film log format, there was plenty of available stops to grade the captured footage. In saying that, we broke with convention in the first red dress shoot by using a uniform interim grade to assess the footage and then individually regrade the edited results shot-for-shot. Similarly shot in 4K, the black and leopard dress films received the same treatment.
For the scenic compositing, we forewent the traditional green screens and settled to covering the masked out areas with black scrim. Whilst it would take longer in keying out the talent in front of the dark backgrounds, at least there wouldn’t be any undesirable green spill onto Sinteque or her costume. Add to this some VFX elements like speeding printing presses and the hidden “easter-eggs” in the newspapers’ text (hit ‘pause’ in the third movie to see those), and all of the post-production was complete by this point.
All that remained was the audio design. Whereas the first two films (with the red and black dress) made use of extensive sound design to help bolster the sound of the music track, we pretty much left the music alone in the third “cat burglar” film. The music choice was already so on point that it really didn’t need any further sonic embellishment.
With the videos now finished and having since been presented to Sinteque and Berserker, it will soon be time to unleash this triptych of fetish fashion videos onto the web and further.