I just came back from Aldourie Castle Estate on Loch Ness where I threw myself suddenly into some preliminary shooting with the crazy and delightful artists around Nicolette Saina’s new feature film, working title…”Le Castle Papier”. Production Company is ImagiNation TV and Film.
A gathering of diverse talent lived and worked at the castle for a week in order to test-shoot production design, costume design, acting/dancing talent and the exquisite location. The cast included 6 brilliant female dancers, some of them ex-performers in Le Cirque Soleil and one of them (Tara-Jean Popowich) a recent winner of the Canadian talent show “So you think you can dance” (“Strictly Come Dancing”…Canuck-stylie) . All choreography was by LA based Stacey Tookey backed up by her brother Kevin Tookey, who also performed in some scenes. Both fantastically impressive at what they do…and nice straightforward folk to boot!
The film is a kind of multi-layered fairytale set in a rich and bountiful place…where a non-specific natural disaster has occurred. Few have survived…………but those few gradually overcome a monstrous grief by working together to create beauty from whatever is cheap and natural. Trees and Paper figure alot…and a section of the exterior castle wall was in fact covered in paper designs for the shoot. This was done by Fin and Al of DufiArt based near Tain. Paper was also used extensively in the costumes along with autumn leaves. There was also an appearance by Michael Grab, one of the world’s top “Rock Balancers”. He spent the week working on his own around the estate creating remarkable “balances” (columns of balanced stones using only gravity to sustain them.) He’s a quietly inspiring man who’s character may well feature in the finished script.
Nicolette encouraged a spirit of creative openness in which I basked ! Every time I set up a shot beautiful things seemed to form in front of my lens! I did very little lighting, using or enhancing natural conditions even on interiors.We worked 12 hour days (and alot more besides) but we were fast and lightweight and the fantastic Scottish weather gave us all the conditions we needed….when we needed them….aided by some astute scheduling by 1st AD Eric Spoeth. Of course our principal photography will, of necessity not be quite so nimble-footed. Things will get a tad more military….but “spritely” seems worth having as a goal .
This is a departure from Nicolette’s previous film work . She has made dramatic films in the past about real-life stories of terrorism and journalism. This film should go into Production this winter. Its not a musical or a ballet…there will be a narrative and some principal protagonists. The film is essentially about beauty…as Nicolette says…its a bit out there and a bit arty…but it has already attracted alot of major artistic talent because of this.
Me I’m fine with out there and arty.