First XV: Dead Letters (2005)

[#4 in a series of my favourite images, from my first 15 years as a professional photographer.]

I've written about the short film Dead Letters before (here, here, and here) - but I couldn't go past this image of Yvette Reid when I was looking through some of the work I'd done in 2005.

I hadn't worked on-set as a stills photographer before (though I'd been an extra on Lord Of The Rings and a few TV series & commercials before that, so I had at least some idea how it would work); but I really wanted to commit to this production, to see what full days on set would be like and whether I could both stay out of the way of the crew, and get what the producers needed.

Yvette Reid as Ngaire in the short film, Dead Letters, filmed at Wellington Railway Station (click the image to embiggen)

I brought my laptop with me and did a bit of rough image processing / colour-grading of the RAW files when there was time - which, I found out later, the cinematographer, James Cowley, really appreciated, as he hadn't worked with a digital intermediate (DI) process before!

He was having to light everything much flatter than he was accustomed to, in order for the colour graders to have the best available raw negative to work with - and it was freaking him out a little, so being able to see how the stills could be processed actually helped him relax about how the film looked. (He didn't tell me this until the shoot was over, mind you!)

James Cowley filming Yvette Reid for Dead Letters, 2005

In the end, I was really happy with the work I did on the film, and especially this image - and I later heard back through the producers that the marketing person at the New Zealand Film Commission had never seen a short film with such strong production stills - so that was a lovely thing to hear!

Unusually, I've also got a behind-the-scenes image - not of me taking the photo, but of the crew doing a take of the actual shot for the film...if you're interested in seeing more of the production, the great folks at NZ On Screen have the whole thing available online - for free - right, enjoy!

Next week, another year - 2006!