Together Forever Shoot / by Luke Griffiths

Initially the Together Forever music video was a project I didn't even really want. I had a busy schedule at the time and the idea of doing a project with a two week turn around wasn't particularly appealing. However I did like the song and in listening to it I managed to conjure up a devilishly humorous little idea of dark comedy, plus I really needed practice with my pitch writing. Well, lo and behold my pitch ended up getting chosen. So there I was, with an idea, a budget, and just over two weeks to plan and execute it.

Time was of the essence so I pulled on team members who I'd worked with previously and had developed agood rapport with. Between Melinda Tupling (Production Designer), Jennifer Ellis (Make-Up Artist), Una Kristindottir (Production Assistant), Evie Tymms (Actress) and Mark Williams (Actor) was enough past working experience that I knew I was in good hands. The only new comer to the crew was our camera assistant, Arthur Bienkowski, who, as well as having a huge amount of experience on big productions, was just a very nice guy and a great boon to the morale of the set. The team was so good that I probably have just gone to sleep on set and the outcome probably wouldn't have been much different.

In a visual sense I wanted the music video to look both beautiful and glamorous in order to offset the rather dark on screen content. I wanted strong colours and golden hues. This was achieved with a variety of methods. Firstly through Melinda Tuplings brilliant production and costume design which, in conjunction with Jennifer Ellis' gorgeous hair and makup, portrayed a sense of 50's era innocence. The second way I worked to achieve this intended look was during my location recce at Gnangara forest I used an application on my phone called sun seeker to track the path of the sun, which allowed me to keep the sun always at the characters' backs.

A selection of reference images.

A selection of reference images.


Once everything was locked in we headed down to Gnangara Pine Forest to begin shooting. Somehow amongst a week of rain and storms we managed to get a perfect sunny day, which made everything look absolutely gorgeous. This fact was especially good news considering the importance of a visible setting sun in one of the sequences.

In order to get the quality of image I was looking for I decided to shoot the film on the Red Epic camera (provided by Location Equipment) at 4KHD, with 8:1 compression. Shooting RAW at 4K gave me a lot of flexibility when it came to post production in order to achieve the specific look I was going for. So I knew exactly what I was getting in camera I set up a look profile in Red Cine Pro and loaded that onto the camera before the shoot. This step was especially important due to the fact that I was planning on using a low contrast filter (Ultra Con 4) for the entire shoot. The reason I did this was because I have personally never been a huge fan of the way that the Red Epic rendered skin tones, and I had seen other cinematographers, such as Denson Baker, who had got great results out of the camera by utilising this filter. Upon using it I absolutely loved the way the filter affected the image, it soften the Red's hard edges and flared in really beautiful ways.

We had to work very fast in order to get all the shots I wanted so I stripped the rest of the ancillary gear back to only the barebones. I used only one lens: the Canon L-Series 24-70mm Zoom; two lights: the Creamsource Mini Doppio LED light, the Socanland 1'x1' LED Panel; and a green screen. I mostly made use of the natural forest light, but offset it with the Creamsource as a back light with a full CTO in order to maintain visual consistency with shots earlier in the video clip that featured a heavy amount of orange from the setting sun.

We made use of the Greenscreen and the otther LED light for the opening driving scene. I made the decision early on to shoot the driving against a greenscreen rather than make our cast actually drive because I felt it was going to be to dangerous to drive the vehicle and act as required. This seemed like a good idea up until the car arrived and found out that it was almost a perfect chroma green! However with some creative framing and great work from Richard Wals, my local VFX boffin, we were able to make it work.

Despite a great day of shooting the really special moment was to come right at the end. This was when we shot the scene I had basically planned the rest of the shoot around: the scene where our leads play and kiss in, front of the setting sun. I had timed and planned the shoot so that the sun would be right behind our characters during the scene. This was the only time where I dropped the Ultracon filter and just let the beautiful golden sun shine straight into the lens, creating some absolutely beautiful golden flares. I was so happy for the 30 minutes or so we had together scene down as no matter what I did everything just looked gorgeous!

Once this scene was shot all that was left was to shoot driving plates before packing up, feeling happy, but exhausted from a fantastic day of shooting. The shoot really couldn't have gone better. Sometimes tight deadlines are a boon to the creative process, because it forces you to just get out there and do it, no faffing about!