30s Evening Wear at The Lady Lever Gallery

Seeing dresses on mannequins in a gallery always gives me a strange feeling. We see dresses on mannequins all the time around us in shop windows and yet put them in a gallery and we feel the need to pay close attention to them and take close up shots of them. Would I take close ups of mannequins in Toshop? Probably not, but then the lighting isn’t half as good. It’s all context I suppose.

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Carousel Nostalgia

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I’ve been so overwhelmed by life lately, and my brain is so fried from seasonal work, that I haven’t been able to thread two thoughts together despite having plenty of things to write about. However, lolita has really been keeping me sane. I’ve never professed to actually be good at lolita fashion or really to do anything amazing with it; but the idea of putting items together in some sort of theme, going and hunting down the items and then putting them together is really satisfying. Naturally, much like in this photo, half of it is blown to disarray by the wind, but at some point in the day this outfit was some immensely elegant lolita granny chic. I’m really inspired by mossmarchen  and I wanted to create a nice array of brooches to emulate her style, but sadly two of the brooches broke immediately.

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You might remember this outfit from September where I wore it to Regalia in London. For that outfit I wanted to go for a more “lady of the manor” vibe, but this time I changed the blouse, hat and accessories for a vintage/granny mood instead. I really like how changing up a few items really changes the entire mood of the outfit. Would anyone be interested if I wrote some kind of co-ordinate tutorial for making flexible outfits like this?

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I really needed a break and I love my local community, so the perfect solution for stress was a meet to visit the Manchester Christmas markets. We had a lot of new members and it was another big meet for us, so I was elated! A few girls felt that they didn’t have finished co-ordinates so they were very shy about coming to their first meets so nearly dropped out, but I think this should not be an issue. As an admin for my community, I feel like it’s my duty to make everyone feel welcome on their first meet up and encourage them to enjoy the fashion, so I don’t mind at all if people don’t turn up in a full co-ordinate while they still get to learn the ropes of the fashion. It was so lovely to meet people for the first time; it makes me feel like I’m doing a good job with the community when lots of people come to meets, and even more so when they come back again!

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I loved the different styles that were visible at this meet. We had classic, gothic, old school, mori, sweet and even more otome style outfits. I even started a furry wrist cuff trend! I’ve never felt cooler or more like Regina George in my life than when half my comm loved my furry wrist cuffs enough to bag their own. We had such an eventful day of enjoying the markets, walking around Manchester and even riding the carousel! I wont lie to you, dear reader, I went back later in the week and rode the carousel again. Turns out, I just love the whimsy and nostalgia a little bit too much.

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For example, I MADE someone take this photo of me elegantly riding side saddle on my lovely horse Spice because I was really giddy about riding the carousel. I spent the whole time grinning like an idiot because I had such fond memories of riding on carousels as a child. I live quite close to Southport and we used to visit a lot when I was a child so I’ve ridden the huge carousel there many times and every time I hear the music it just makes my heart happy. It really is the simple things in life.

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The markets were so busy that I didn’t have a lot of time to really take good photos, but I did manage to get this beautiful portrait of Mo with the back light of the carousel. I think it might be one of my favourite pictures I’ve taken to this day. I was so charmed by her outfit that I just had to get some kind of photo of her, because she was an absolute vision of Momoko from Kamikaze girls. 
Lastly, a shout out to Wagamama’s in Manchester Printworks for being really great with our large party size and having really good accessibility for wheelchairs and an absolute SLAM to Prezzo and Harvester for the exact opposite reasons.

Weird Film Season Part 2; The Lobster

Sorry about the delay on this post – I had a big glitch with blogger and had to re-write it a few times!
Anyway.So. I went to see this film. I went in to the cinema and all that, got my popcorn as you do, ate it during the trailers as you do and watched the film. When the lights went up and I came out I stood still for a moment like “did I enjoy that!?” I still haven’t figured it out. Did I enjoy it? I have no idea. Here are some other thoughts I had.

The Lobster is set in some kind of dystopian society where you must be in a couple at all times, and in the event of a breakup you are sent to a hotel resort to find a new partner within 45 days or else you are turned into an animal of your choosing. The premise of the film is so loopy that upon hearing it you can’t help but say to yourself “well, I need to see this.” The opening scene involves our main character asking his partner, who we can assume has cheated on him, if the man she slept with has glasses or contact lenses.
Love, in this universe, is a warped creature. We spend time watching a man with a limp wonder if what he saw was a stumble, or someone else with a limp. He breaks his nose and causes it to bleed in order to get closer to a girl who suffers from regular nosebleeds. The characters all speak as if they are high school children who have been forced to read aloud in a classroom; they want to add a bit of emotion to the words but fear ridicule from their peers. We watch the protagonist lie to himself and allow a heartless woman to intentionally choke on an olive in order to prove that he is also heartless and that they are a suitable match. It doesn’t work, unlike limping man and nosebleed girl who are content to build a house on their lie. Love is built on shallow foundations such as “we both play guitar!” Not saying real life isn’t often very similar to this, but to suggest that someone would cheat on you just because the other person also wears glasses and therefore must be suited, and not because of deeper emotional problems, is a scary premise.

The film is a dark comedy, with moments of utter brutality. If you’ve heard me talk about black mirror, which any modern dystopian fiction is likely to be compared to, you’ll know I feel like the series is “like real life but with the brutality setting turned up to 11.” The world of The Lobster has the brutality turned up to about 20. Often times I didn’t know if I was laughing because I felt awkward, upset, didn’t know how to feel or something was genuinely funny. For example, one scene had the maid come in and rub her ass in circles on the main characters crotch until he gets hard, then she tells him it was quicker than yesterday and leaves. Another scene saw a character punished for masturbating by having his hand burned in a toaster. I made awkward noises which sounded something similar to laughter. 
There are some actually funny moments in the film such as the announcement of a new couple at the hotel. “We wish you the best of luck, and if there are any arguments that you cannot resolve amongst yourselves you will be issued with a child. We find that usually does the trick.” I laughed out loud at the dry humour of that notion. There are also moments of genuine beauty and humour in the camerawork. The characters leave the initial hotel setting, which many reviewers have said is the downward point for the film, and the setting provides some really beautiful camerawork. One scene has the main characters lying on the ground; the background is a vaseline focus blur of spring green woodland with the occasional strange animal roaming around aimlessly. It’s silly and gorgeous.

A lot of people will be quick to suggest that the film is a critique of modern online dating where you see someone, you find one shallow mutual thing between you and from there you build a relationship that supposedly works. I don’t really think the film is about that, I feel like it’s more a critique on forcing things rather than letting them develop. I feel like it pokes fun at people who feel the need to be in a relationship at all times, or militantly without one, and suggests that without balance we do extreme and crazy things for the sake of trying to make something happen. I keep trying to articulate something deeper about this film, even though I kind of don’t think there is anything deeper there. For example, we’re never told why this twisted world is as such and I’m okay with that. This is a story for the sake of telling a story about something strange that happened and I always think that’s fine. Whether I actually enjoyed it or not, well, I’m still debating that, but I did enjoy watching it.

Please comment with which animal you’d like to be turned into if you failed to find a partner within 45 days.

SPOILERS
Do not watch this film if you cannot stomach violence towards animals; there is a very graphic scene with an animal. If you are not a fan of violence in general this film would be a bad idea. Just a gentle warning for tender hearts.
END OF SPOILERS 

ROLLERBIRD!

Remember the film I said I made in three weeks? Well, here it is! I hope you enjoy it. I really enjoyed making it and I think it’s one of my best pieces of work, if not the best. There were lots of parts I wish I could have used, but audio issues ate some of my best interviews unfortunately.

Weird Film Season Part 1; Crimson Peak

Winter is a time for staying the heck indoors, keeping warm, watching movies and stuffing your face with popcorn. Hence, that’s kind of what I’ve been doing. I haven’t written about any films for a while either, so it’s about time! The most recent three I’ve watched have been The Lobster, Crimson Peak and Spy and here’s what I thought. Today; Crimson Peak.

I’ve been a fall of Guillermo Del Toro since I was about 15. I was just old enough to go and see Pan’s Labyrinth when it was released and I totally fell in love with his style. I am not a fan of horror in general; I’m the most jumpy person and even the slightest scare has me clawing the ceiling like a feral cat. When I went to see Pan, my friend and I were the only two people in the screening and we desperately clung to each other throughout the entire film as if that could save us from the mystery and terror unfolding on screen. But it was the mystery that really got me. Did the magical plot ever happen, or was it the wild imagining and of a child trying to escape a miserable life in fascist Spain? I thought about how beautiful and horrible it was for days, and since I’ve always made an effort to go and see Del Toro movies, even though they scare the living shit out of me.
Hence, when Crimson Peak came out I was determined to watch it even if I had to do so through my fingers. Which I basically did, for some of it. I loved Crimson Peak and I thought it was brilliantly directed. The cinematography was incredible and it had some bloody brilliant camera work too. I love a good bit of focus pulling, I think forcing your audiences’ eye to move is a delightful form of torture. In this film, I think they used it particularly well to shift between characters and scary background elements. I have also never seen a film use so much yellow lighting and still look fantastic, but I should clarify that yellow is my least favourite colour because I don’t think “not vulgar use of yellow” is really on anyone else’s criteria list.
The film follows a circular narrative, much like Pan’s Labyrinth, and has some excellent foreshadowing as part of its underlying themes. I don’t want to give away too much though. What I think is particularly interesting about this film is that it really is a traditional gothic horror, which uses the traditional themes of a powerful family in a terrifying house with a dark secret and brings these elements together in a way that frightens modern audiences. I remember watching the innocents, which was one of the first films in cinemascope if I remember rightly, and being unnerved by blurry figures moving in the background as I’m sure audiences back then also would have been. This film uses many of those traditional techniques, but with colour and tension and modern special effects it brings them right up to the modern time to literally scream in your face.
As for plot twists, it kept me intrigued and guessing just enough. I really always try and turn off my brain when watching films so that I won’t figure out the plot, but this one had me really intrigued and wanting to so some puzzling. I didn’t quite get it right, but I was 95% of the way there. Like I said before, the film likes to throw a little bit of foreshadowing in here and there, which I actually think is appropriate given that one of the “rules” of this story is that ghosts exist out of time and space and can warn you about the future; so ghosts of the plot warn the audience too. You might find this an interesting criticism from me, who often complains that actions in film can be too brutal, but I actually thought that Thomas got off really lightly in comparison to Lucille as far as punishment goes.
This is another one of those films where I’m going to really enjoy reading as much as possible about the visual choices and creative direction. I already really enjoyed reading about Lucille’s blue velvet vine dress and how it symbolises her connection with the house. I also really enjoyed the moments where animation and special effects were used; there is a moment where a group of ants eat a butterfly and while in general it’s a heavy handed metaphor the use of that extreme close up was fantastically revolting. This film has style by the bag full and is definitely a great watch for classic horror fans. It has lots of tension and a few jump scares which had me peeking out behind my hands and also lots of gore. I loved the gory parts but they had my friend curling up into a ball for safety in his seat. So, there’s something for everyone.
Lastly, you really do root for Edith during the film. You want her to succeed, rather than some horror films where your protagonists are so annoying that you would just rather see them die. Go Edith go!

Location Scout for a day.

I think there are maybe a handful of people on the Earth who truly love their jobs. I feel like most people have a neutral opinion, they don’t hate their jobs and generally they like the people they work with and just put up with what they have to do for about 7 or 8 hours a day. Well, last Friday I had a day as a location scout and it was the most fun I’ve ever had doing work.

The task I had to was just to get some photos of Liverpool looking a particular way for a film, but the experience I had during just reminded me of the reasons that I love this city. I experienced such friendliness and warmth from people – my only regret is that I didn’t take photos of the people that I met.

I was taking photos of the India buildings when I was approached by a lovely man called Bill. He accidentally walked into my shot and apologised “Don’t worry” I said “I’m just taking pictures of  the architecture.”
“If you like architecture, there’s a part nobody ever takes a photo of.” Past the reception desk, you can’t get through the double doors but you can see a fully working art deco, futuristic looking lift surrounded by spiral staircases and with working water features. He told me all about the history of the building, how it survived the wars and what it’s used for today. He also introduced me to one of the shop keepers at the India buildings, who runs a blog dedicated to it’s history over at www.classicartdeco.co.uk. He is really passionate about the building and it’s history, as it seems a lot of the residents are. Bill told me about how it used to be a walkway arcade, and after surviving world war two the beautiful roof and marble floors were added. It used to be cobble and now it’s a lovely creme coloured marble. It’s definitely a film location people could use if they wanted to make Liverpool look like London, or for a period drama of some sort. 

After I left the India buildings, I was thinking I should get back towards the city centre as I had an appointment to get to. It was about lunch time and I was hungry so I popped my head into a café that had one or two people start in it. I totally missed the sign in the door that said “staff training day” and just pottered in like an idiot. Good thing I did though, because I met the owner of the café, Lynn, who told me all about it and how she’d come to open it. Lynn worked as a cookery and catering teacher for adults with learning difficulties for about 10 years before being made redundant. With the money, she decided to pursue her dream of opening her own café.

Now she’s just about ready to open “my flat white” and because I stumbled in she gave me a free lunch!! It was delicious, and I did my bit to help her staff training day; which is how I’m justifying my ignorance of her door sign…. Lynn was absolutely lovely; so warm and welcoming and passionate about her food. She introduced me to her chef, Giovanni, who comes from the same town in Italy where parmasan cheese is made! Theyre excited to add traditional, rustic dishes from Italy to their final menu. Personally I’m really excited to eat traditional rustic dishes from Italy. Also; he poaches a really delicious egg. 
Now full up on a really tasty free lunch, I walked around feeling smug and excited to say “you know how there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Well I just got a free lunch!” to everyone I know. Right place, right time for once in my life! I took a few photos of lower castle Street when a man in a long coat approached me. This is usually worrying for a girl who is alone but I actually wasn’t worried at all because he had a big, friendly grin on his face and rather than saying something crass he gave me a fun piece of trivia! Like a friendly npc.

“Are you a Beatles fan?” he asked. I dont hate them or anything. I like them about as much as anyone else.

“I thought you might have been taking a picture of that door over there. It used to be the civic mens club, they played there about 4 times before they became famous.” (I apologise, kind Beatles trivia stranger, if I got the facts wrong, my memory is a little fuzzy writing this now) He gave me his card, which I have now lost because I’m utterly useless. It was a lovely hand drawn business card on dark brown cardstock, which bore the url of a YouTube channel where he plays Beatles covers outside of famous Beatles related landmarks. I thanked him for the knowledge and then carried on taking pictures. A old man behind me was playing some kind of game of squash with a tennis ball in the alley. He seemed upset that I’d disturbed his secret place. I went home feeling satisfied with my day. 

I made a film happen in three weeks.

You might have been wondering where I’ve been for the past few weeks, after I’d been a diligent poster for a few months. Well, about three weeks ago I stumbled on a link that mentioned FACT were taking submissions for Liverpool Film Night and that the deadline was 18th October. I was sat at my laptop like “Damn! I need to enter this!” and thus began a three week quest to make a film happen. If you’re interested in how I did it for your own projects, keep reading…
So, three weeks is not a lot of time to make something happen. You have to know your limits when you start, and really short time limits and media production generally do not mesh well together. It would be really hard to make a scripted short film in this amount of time, unless it’s a really, really short film and you’re friends with a bunch of people who act; we’re talking 3 minutes maximum here. Hence, I ended up making a documentary, or really it was basically a piece of video journalism. I feel like a documentary has more of a passage of time involved with multiple visits and a journey over a period of months; documenting an event as it progresses. I don’t feel like one or two visits can really document a story, even though I suppose you could count the recording of any period of time as a documentary.

I got incredibly lucky with this project. A friend of mine has just started roller derby, and I looked into the team to see what they were about and I thought “Wow! That’s super cool.” I really liked the ethos of the team so I sent them an email right away explaining what I wanted to do in clear terms. I got lucky with this part, it might not necessarily go so smoothly for everyone. They replied the same day and I started to get to work on my treatment for the project. Writing a treatment is really useful for a project like this because it makes your aims and needs super clear to the people you need to work with and you can organise yourself well. My treatment included the aims and themes of the film, a storyboard of the kinds of shots I wanted to take and where I wanted to set up cameras, the kind of questions I wanted to ask potential interviewees so that the entire process was completely transparent.

The next thing I had to do was beg borrow and steal every piece of equipment I could get. I have my own camera and lenses but I’m really, really lucky in that my parents both work in schools so I was able to borrow some lighting and sound equipment. The last time I did something like this I was still studying, so I was able to use things at my university but sadly that’s not the case these days! My dad is also a hobby photographer so I borrowed his camera too. In the end, the microphone I borrowed wasn’t compatible with my camera, so I ended up dangling camera 2 on a tripod over the interviewees like a very crude boom. It worked, for the most part, but some of my audio still messed up. Thankfully, I learned a lot of audio clean up tricks to help with that. By that I mean, I learned to make a volatile cocktail of lasso tool, heal tool and vocal enhancer on adobe soundbooth.

After I took all the footage, I panicked as usual that none of it would turn out well but thankfully I got some really beautiful shots. As a filmmaker I always worry that I’m not close enough, that my shots aren’t intimate enough. I really like close up, very textural film. Videos of close up fashion details are always my favourite, and I feel like Chanel always does this really well for every collection. After watching this, I always want to get closer with my camera and see every tiny bead of sweat.

The editing took me somewhere over 50 hours. I remember cancelling everything over about 2 weeks and just editing constantly. Everyone who knows me knows that my gym routine will rarely suffer for anything. I’m an absolute gym addict and even my precious gym time went out of the window to get this done. Again, short deadlines and media production do not mix well! I really burned myself out doing this and I really would not recommend it for your health but if you do have a tight deadline like mine then sacrifices must be made.

I had people look at the film a few times during the editing process. I had my friends who are involved in film and animation look at it from their perspective and also my mother and father look at it from a viewer perspective. It went through quite a few iterations before I got to the final piece. I had to beg, borrow and steal skills from my friends too! As well as getting people to watch my film, I had one friend help me out with graphics too. The things, I don’t have a great sense for graphic design but he has a great sense for it! He added the final touches that made my film look really polished in the end. When it was done and sent off, I really couldn’t believe it. No budget, borrowing from everyone I could and who knows if the film will make it through to the festival. Well, at least it’s something new for my portfolio and CV.

To summarise, if you want to make a film in three weeks you need to do the following:

  • Get your inspiration and get it QUICK. You can’t afford to lag here!
  • Keep your ideas small and very manageable in terms of resources
  • Make your process transparent and organised, the clearer you are the more efficient you can be
  • Get everything you can ready; be resourceful and creative, especially on set. Try not to panic!
  • Allow plenty of time for post production and even a re-shoot if you need to, get your shooting done asap
  • Keep yourself open to criticism throughout the process and stay open to many different opinions because they are all valuable
  • Don’t forget your vision and what you wanted to achieve in the first place
  • You’ll probably need to learn a lot of new skills on the fly and a lot of better, more efficient ways to do things you already know so be prepared for that
  • Take input from others and allow yourself to ask for help where you need it, and you definitely will need it!
  • Make sacrifices and cry a lot.
HAVE FUN! 😀

Fujiwara-san Q+A

I just finished my edit of the Fujiwara-san question and answer session yesterday and it uploaded today! If you would like to learn more about Japanese fashion and specifically Innocent World, or just a bit more about subculture fashion then I would definitely recommend that you take a look! Please enjoy.

Regalia Highlights Video!

I finished working on this a while ago, but was having some issues with the copyright – it turns out it was picking up the background music at the end. I’ve had to awkwardly silence it but please enjoy nonetheless!