A conversation with Lauren Panrucker – Owner and Creative Director of Tide Productions; recently producing the Spring Campaign for The Calile Hotel + QLD Ballet.
So this may not be your biggest shoot to date but it is one of your favourites – what was it about this shoot that stood out so much from any of your previous productions?
Our brief was to showcase the hotel in a way that celebrated the architecture and celebrated movement; it was as far away from the everyday Hotel advertisement and standard corporate video (where you see a man and a woman check in to the hotel and everyone smiles!) as you could go. I loved the idea and freedom of this! This also enabled a fantastic collaboration with QLD Ballet to have people fluidly and eccentrically moving through the space in a way that guests never would, which really emphasized this direction.
How long was the shoot?
We had two days of shooting; the first was 9.5 hours and the second was 8.5. The crew remained the same for both, except the incredible Harry from Tide Productions who was only with us on the second day.
Fun Fact: The Calile was still completely open for their guests, so we specifically chose two of the quieter days to hold the shoot and tailored our shots around the quieter times. This meant we had a 15 minute window for the elevator scene! The pool was hard, too- we had to politely ask guests to swim out of frame, and then let the kids back into the onscreen pool sections between each take!
Was the concept decided prior to the location scout? How long was this process?
We spent two days scouting the venue – the first was Alex, myself and Jack from QLD Ballet, and the second was Alex and Liam. We had already decided on the concept beforehand, but the choices of locations definitely evolved the concept.
You were working with two professional ballerinas as your talent: was that quite different to working with actors for a commercial campaign?
Sophie & Jack were our talent from QLD Ballet: Jack did an incredible job with the choreography and joined me on the first trip to The Calile Hotel to visualise his choreography before the shoot. They were incredibly fast paced, creative, playful and innovative and were fantastic to work with- especially when we had more time and freedom to play and experiment in different spaces.
The concept, colouring and style of the shoot is stunning and almost mesmerizing- was there a team looking over these areas or did you have one creative director managing the details?
We had a small but brilliant team- Alex, Christy (from The Calile) & Lucy (from Studiobland) worked together throughout the whole process. Styling and costumes were by the talented Lucy from Studiobland. Actually, the shoes have been a favourite by some of the female audience -haha! We had Jacquemus, Tabitha Simmons, Gianvito Rossi and Castañer Wedges (oh, and hotel slippers… always necessary!)
The music is quite quirky and fun- Did Jack and Sophie hear this before the day of the shoot?
The whole campaign video was actually made and choreographed to a different track! We were originally using the same track as we used last year, however we then heard this new track composed by the very talented Ryan Walsh and instantly fell in love with it.
The videos are full of beautiful movement and a lot of fun and quirky moments: do you have a favourite?
One of my favourites is Sophie looking dapper in the Lobby Bar, just because it’s striking and really catches the eye. I also LOVE the shot of Sophie in the pool. The colours are just so vibrant and there is a really nice symmetry to it. The dress is actually exactly the same size as the little half-circle island in the pool, so when she falls into the water the buoyancy pulls the dress out to look like petals on a flower which amplified the Spring campaign perfectly.
The shot on the daybed is also a favourite- it’s just so elegant and the lighting worked perfectly- Liam and the team did an incredible job at scoping the best time of day for the lightning of each shot prior to the shooting days.
Was it easy to create such a beautiful symmetry between the dress and the island in the pool?
Ha, no! It was not easy, but it was a good adventure. We tried a few different things and have a lot of fun photos to go with it.
Because we only had one take to get Sophie falling into the pool Sophie had to do a few really cool (and extremely impressive) matrix style back bends, which were shot on the front edge of the pool to give a better depth of field. Our DOP Liam then setup for the fall shot and Sophie had one take to fall gracefully into the water!
After that we got her out, positioned her perfectly and did a few shots of the ‘flower’ from the bird’s eye view angle off the roof.
For the dress, we actually tried a few different techniques but what we found to work best was laying down a layer of bubble wrap on the water, and then we gently lay the dress on top of it so it would float. We had to use industrial strength bubble wrap, and a lot of it! We attempted Sophie wading through the water and wrapping herself back into the (custom-made) dress, however, the best option was actually lowering her down through the bubble wrap into the water to create the effect of the floating dress surrounding her!
You mentioned capturing a celebration of the architecture and movement; what were your focuses to create this?
The choreography and camera angles played the major role in this.
The choré was tailored completely to the details of the space and the lighting, which gives it so much fluidity. For example the shot where Jack is laying in the trolley was designed around the design of the brickwork: really showcasing the light & architecture. Jack did an incredible job of working the details of the space into the movement. They both played with the different spaces & shapes with such grace and ease- I really loved watching their creative process.
The camera angles were a lot of fun! It’s not often the camera movement and angles can express emotion with the performer to emphasise a moment, so Alex and I had a great time with this. I loved playing with the idea of space and time amongst the architecture to emulate the emotions of the performers.
Were there any funny stories or moments from the shoot?
Oh, plenty! But my favourite story is from the shoes on the balcony scene (see below). We were going to have the camera locked in position and Sophie move down each balcony with different shoes on, but when we were getting ready for the shot, Sophie realized she had forgotten she had blue nail polish on so the crew ran down the street to get nail polish remover. The only problem was that we needed to smash out this shot so after they had left, we found that we actually had three girls in the crew that were the exact shoe size of the shoe we were using! To reiterate: there were only three pairs of designer shoes chosen and brought for that scene, and they perfectly fit the three girls who were available to stand in for Sophie’s feet! This gave Sophie plenty of time to remove her nail polish for all other scenes and made shooting this sequence fly by as we were using three girls instead of one!
Fun fact: Those are actually my feet wearing the silver and gold Tabitha Simmons (front right)!
Another funny moment was the shot with the palm fronds going up the staircase. We used some of our crew to carry the palm fronds but because they couldn’t see each or hear instructions from the camera team, we really struggled to get timing. We almost gave up on the scene altogether but as a last attempt I ran over and sat curled up in the corner of the staircase with a metronome and a walkie talkie, giving camera instructions (like action) and holding the metrolome so all three could hear. It worked a treat and we got the shot in one take after that, which was lucky because we were already over time!
Creating something so steeped in beauty and luxury was a thrill. The creative team behind the idea were passionate about making something different, something striking, and I’m so proud of the team and impressed with the end product! I’m really glad it was so wonderfully received.