Friday, 20 January 2012

Into the Woods

This is a little retrospective blog, as I'm in a retro mood lately and frustrated trying to re-jig my website. I have quite a few older projects which I just simply feel like posting as some things I haven't put up before and it's a new year and all that jazz.....

About 18months ago I shot and directed a music video for a very talented singer, Kellie Blaise, which we did in Ireland, in the woods in Howth where I grew up, as befits the song title 'into the woods', how very arty!....

The video featured some good friends of mine, actors and actresses such as my sister Niamh, Vinny, who was in Studs with me way back when, and Natalia Kostrvewa, who features in the horror film 'The Inside', which is due it's release later this year (but more of that another time), and the adorable Kayla seen in the 'walking in the air' video.

The song is quite dark and shall we say quirky, and the idea evolved into that of a young girl following a small boy into the depths of a forest, where she gets lost and is accosted by a woodland nymph. The boy is one of her minions who has lead countless lost children/people into these woods where they are trapped in a limbo.....similar to hansel and gretal with the breadcrumbs, or the old age fairytales where the child is seduced and ends up having their soul bound for all eternity.....dark yes, but Stardust has a dark concept too where the stars get eaten, so at least in purgatory there is the possibility of escape....

As the witch/nymph leads the girl deeper into the forest she comes into contact with lost souls who have become creatures in a paralysed limbo. The witch plays with them, releasing them for a moment where they engage in a repetitive action like a cuckoo clock, and then stop again, paused in time as it were by her spell. This is the fate that will befall the little girl....

The little girl tries to fight against the evil witch but she calls all her minions to her in a reverie of worship, and, as the rules of a music video dictate, her voice over awes all those around her and she is all powerful and dominant. I did wonder about little Kayla, and the little boy Evan, who is the coolest kid, as they are young and surrounded by all these fruitcakes dressed in masks in a forest of smoke with a bizarre 'teddy bears picnic' style song going on which has 'odd' connotations if read a certain way, but kids watch a lot of disney so it was like going to the funfair for them I guess.........

The video was shot on the Sony Ex-1, which doesn't allow any interchanging of lenses unfortunately but gives a nice low light image, and the stills were shot on 800 stock, on the OM-2.

It's a very pretty video, and a gorgeous song, and I think it worked out quite well.....never quite knew what to do with it when it was finished and the stills and the video just drifted a little bit as sometimes happens with projects, but I think that the end product turned out well.

Here is the ORIGINAL version of the song/video:

I had intended on putting a photo book together telling the story through just stills but never got around to it. It was a tough little shoot, we used the Deer Park Hotel as a base, and shot in the forest behind it, but it was trek lugging a generator in and out as it got very muddy and rained, and for some reason we just attracted horse flies, which wasn't popular. The shoot took two days, cut in half for the children to get out earlier of course...

There are two versions of the song, one produced musically by Kevin Whyms, and one by Reggie Ashley, and I'm not sure which I prefer, but each give the song a completely different vibe.....

The make up was done by the incredibly talented Nadia Macari, and Eimear Ennis Graham was my gaffer that day, the wonderfully talented woman that she is. The styling was done by Kellie herself, along with the concept art...

There's a little story in the video, which I think makes it more interesting and visually I enjoyed shooting it.....

This is the alternate version of the song, same video, jazzier style, by Kevin Whyms...


  1. The photos are definitely interesting, but all in all it looks like something out of an Irish fairy-tale (or how I picture them to be from my imagination).

  2. I got more of a Dr. Frank N Furter playing with his Transylvanians vibe off the first video. More of the 'come play with me and my lost soul tea party' vibe came off the second.

    I can see how your style has changed over the last 18 months. You wouldn't know this and your last video were done by the same director if it wasn't for the little girl. Good job on the growing and getting stronger bit. You're aging like a fine whiskey there, eh?

  3. Beautiful, though I find the part where all the "characters" are moving around the witch near the end a bit... (F*cking English there's not the word I'm looking for) let's say "untidy", in the sense that it looks like a not-so-successful choreography. However I find that the witch "freeing" the people for a time, the way the witch disappears at the end and all her interaction with the little girl are amazing.

    When you told the story it made me think of Goethe's poem "Erlkönig" (you can find a translation on wikipedia :D) where a boy and his father are riding in the woods at night and the daughters of the Erlkönig ("Alder King") and then the Erlkönig himself are trying to lure the little boy to follow them.
    (There's been a lot of song inspired on this poem, directly or not, classical (Schubert and Loewe, both amazing even though Schubert's one is so powerful it never fails to make me cry... anyway.) or not (Rammstein did one!))

    The make-up, costume and images are beautiful and I can't say which song I prefer. I feel like your video goes better with the first one - I'd have seen something different with the more "sweet temptress" voice of the second version.

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  5. What an interesting concept, visually stunning. I really like both versions of the song, both work with the video, but I think the first version is more haunting within the concept of the video. Kayla's a little star, she's around the same age as my daughter and although she's a real tomboy, she has had her moments of looking like a girl and I was actually seeing her walking through that forest rather than Kayla. Anyway, I enjoyed the video and the songs, loved the make up and the costumes, all gorgeous.

    I was going to say I feel dumb and haven't no literary allusions to make but actually, now that I come to think of it, it has a bit of a Midsummer Nights Dream feel about it to me and also if you've seen any of the new US show Once Upon a Time, it would fit quite nicely in with that. Nicely done.


  6. I think on the whole I am leaning towards the first video in terms of song style simply because it feels creepier and it seems to fit the setting and characters a lot more.

    I loved all the different characters and the way that they moved when they were brought out of the spell and the jerky swordsman with his creepy eyes was just... well... creepy. Yeah.

    With most fairy stories there is an original screwed up version where people are eaten/ have bits of them cut off/ are tortured to death/ are raped by the handsome prince and then there's the nicer version where no one is ever really dead, apart from the baddie, and there's never any blood (and no one would even mention rape). This song feels like it's taken straight from one of those original stories, meaning that there's not necessarily a 'happily ever after' ending in store.

    I really liked it and it was beautiful to watch. The stills are gorgeous as well and now I'm really wishing that I'd just bought that camera the other day

  7. I love it! what a great sound, beautiful actors! beautiful little girl
    congratulations on this video!
    has a real movie when you?

  8. And there's an adorable rabbit!

    Very cool. I like the second version of the song best. Kellie Blaise has a very interesting and evocative voice.

    I loved the costumes! I bet the kids had a lot of fun with it, and the adults looked like they must have had fun too.

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. Kellie's voice is intoxicating! Wow. It draws you in and the video keeps you there. You want to look away but you can't. Very well done. I first looked at this the other day and found myself humming it this morning. Had to watch in again. Very, very cool. Does she have an album out?

  10. is this one of your projects?
    anyhow i love it :D
    visually stunning hq photo's just gorgeous and the actresses are really talented !

  11. The photos are Amazing , the little girl, she is so cute *-* nice costumes too , btw brillant!! =D

  12. Amazing decor! The photos and the videos are really successful! The colors are beautiful. that reminds me of Hansel and Gretel story a little bit.

  13. Very cool! I've fallen behind on reading this (in part because my Twitter account keeps unfollowing you which is rather unfair and fractious), and now I am very glad I did. Quite a cool song and video and (costuming geek that I am) I loved the costumes! That little girl is truly quite amazing.

  14. I never saw these videos before. It was magical. I loved the costumes.