Sep 20

Home Invasion Complex… Behind the scenes on ‘Wait Until Dark’ poster shoot.

Worrying what’s at the door on the cinematic, home invasion-themed shoot for ‘Wait Until Dark‘ with Original Theatre Company

Full-page National newspaper spread announcing Autumn 2017 tour

Earlier in the summer, I had the pleasure of being brought in to shoot poster imagery for the UK national tour of Original Theatre Company‘s ‘Wait Until Dark,’ a co-production with Eastbourne Theatres, with marketing by Dressing Room 5 (DR5).

OTC have been around since 2004, and have produced a brilliant roster of national (and international) productions, including Night Must Fall, Birdsong and Invincible, which recently ran off-Broadway.

In other words, they and DR5 know how to sell a show.

Dark drama, dark concepts

Concept Outlines by Michael Cranston

And this is a show with pedigree. Written by Frederick Knott, author of Dial M Murder, and set in 60’s London, the play follows Susy, a blind woman who, left alone in her apartment, becomes embroiled with a group of conmen hatching an elaborate scam.

Tense, dark and with plenty of murderous intrigue, the 1967 film version with Audrey Hepburn often ranks as one of the 100 scariest of all time, so it was high time for a stage return.

Matching these themes and audience expectations of Knotts’ work, ex-National Theatre designer Michael Cranston and DR5 came up with a dark set of concepts that also traded off the later cinematic advertising conventions of the home invasion genre (think Single White Female, Secret Window or Ils).

Shooting Specificity

If it seems a little dry to shoot from such a well-developed concept, quite the opposite is true: a high-production-values, focused and effective advertising image rarely comes from anything less precise.

Indeed, sharing these ideas ahead of the shoot meant all the aspects of the campaign, from makeup and hair, to costume and props, to acting intentions and lighting choices, can really be creatively finessed.

This detail creates freedom to explore; for example, though Susy’s jumper was chosen as era-appropriate and in warm colours, it gave Michael Cranston the cue for the colour and warmth of typography and glowing titles.

Comprehensive  Compositing

For this concept, such a complex interplay of characters, location and light could have been quite difficult to achieve in one shot, so we chose to shoot each actor separately.

As a photographer, that meant that while working with each performer to realise a performance, I was also keeping in mind their interrelation in the final composited image (designer speak for cut and paste, if you didn’t know).


Shooting each actor individually

For the men, Jack Ellis (Prime Suspect & Bad Girls) & Oliver Mellor (Coronation Street): strong directional light above and behind, softer, lower powered light on the faces gave the sense that they were standing at a doorway backlit by the harsh light of a dangerous outside.
And for Susy, played by partially-sighted actress Karina Jones, low key  front light created the sense of hiding in shadows, perhaps being lit by a directional source like a match.
My small creative flourish was to add some hard light to her temple, as though spilling from the doorway, to allow Michael to tie her into a clear relation with the others.

The shots pre-poster

The images as taken are lined up in sequence, so I hope you can see the lighting connection between them, as well as the equally important factor of the emotional interplay in the actors’ performances.

Karina Jones in Wait Until Dark

Such a pleasure of a shoot; and judging by the reviews, looking forward to catching it on tour.

MW 20/09/2017

See the show

‘Wait Until Dark’ tours until December 2017.

More details

‘a chilling and terrifying role… played for the first time by a blind actress, Karina Jones’ The Times

Gripping… shines a light on the power darkness has ’ WhatsOnStage

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