The day of the long-awaited music video shoot arrived. With equal parts nervousness and excitement I began the day, a little high on caffeine and eager to do a good job. The director’s vision for the video greatly impressed me from the moment he first described it over a month ago, so I guess I just wanted to do it justice, and show that his decision to have me onboard was the right one.
Although as a child I could sit still for hours, as I’ve got older I’ve become increasingly more fidgety, so make-up required me to wander off in my mind to one of the many stories that are normally meandering along in there in order to quell the urge to jump up after ten minutes and start running around. There’s always the odd unavoidable twinge or jerk however, which usually happens just as the make-up artist is carefully tracing an expert line of thick black eyeliner. Make-up artists, I’m quickly discovering, are angels in disguise, with the patient of a saint, a surgeon’s steady hand and the ability to hide even the darkest of under-eye circles (something which, part due to my aversion to bed-time and part due to genetics – thanks dad – I suffer from).
The shoot involved sequences showing the two sides of a woman – the light, coy and more ‘innocent’ side and the dark, sexy, animalistic and dominant side. Admittedly, we are multi-faceted creatures and there are more shades of grey than one could begin to count, but from a male perspective I think these are the two strongest images, and served the lyrics of the song perfectly. They also made for a thrilling day for me, having the opportunity to explore both sides of my own femininity to extremes I would never normally go.
The light sequences were shot first, and in a white floaty ballet outfit I felt soft and graceful and completely at home, dancing a little, keeping movements flowing and, well, balletic. Although I’ve been told I can flirt outrageously, I can assure you it’s never intentional, and when there’s a guys I really like I’m normally running in the opposite direction in horror at the prospect of actually talking to him. (My boyfriend is the exception but my good friend Merlot had a lot to do with that.) Thus, when the director asked me to be more teasing and flirtatious, at first I wasn’t sure what to do! When you’re more used to the vastness of the stage and having other actors to play off, suddenly being asked to freestyle it in front of three cameras in a small room with the focus all on you can be quite daunting, even for a trainee actor! I found the key was to relax, imagine myself as this girl in this situation – there’s a guy she likes but she doesn’t want to be too obvious, so she keeps checking if he’s looking at her and smiling coyly, inviting him to make a move – and the rest took care of itself. I even had fun!
The dark sequences were shot after lunch, and these I was much more nervous about. Lunch was low on carbs as I had to fit into… shock horror… a corset! Now aside from the fitting for the shoot I have never worn a corset in my life, and I can safely say you’d have to pay me a lot of money to wear one again. Apparently men think they’re sexy. Anything that crushes your diaphragm, pushes your stomach down into your intestines and basically tries to asphyxiate you is not sexy. Period. Matters weren’t helped by the fact that I spent the first ten minutes trying to put it on back-to-front.
Geared-up in the corset, pants, stockings, suspenders – the lot – I inched my way back into the studio (large movements would have spelled disaster for my already suffering rib cage). I thought I looked ridiculous, but apparently women spend money on this stuff to look sexy for their men. I still need convincing. Maybe it’s just the concept of thinking of myself as ‘sexy’ that’s just too weird for me to grasp. After initial direction as to the type of moves we were after, I was again asked to freestyle. I realised that with the director operating all three cameras he had his work cut out, so the more I could get into character and use my own initiative, the easier it would be on him, and ultimately the more successful the shoot would be. I’ve done very little camera work but I think it’s a valuable lesson to learn that people simply don’t have time for you to spend an hour getting into character, and there’s certainly no time for self-consciousness to creep in. There’s a job to be done and everybody’s there to get it done. I imagine the best actors to work with, from a director’s point of view, are those that can get on with the job and deliver the results without needing their hand held, so I plan on being one of those actors.
The director put on some rock music to help me get into the mood, which turned out to be a godsend. With this stimulus I got into character easily, and was moving from one sexy pose to another in no time, my eyes flashing with primal sexual desire at the camera. And the more I transformed into this sexual being the easier it all became, but the key thing was it wasn’t me. Well, obviously it wasme, but it didn’t feel like it was me. It felt like I was someone else, and that other person was confident and dominant and squeezed herself into a corset on a regular basis, and was very comfortable with thinking of herself as sexy. And that, folks, is the magic of acting.Becoming someone else, or at least feeling like you are. The key, of course, is knowing yourself well enough to return to being you at the end of the day.
When I see the final cut I know I’ll be amazed – partly at the artistry of the director, producer and general creative genius-in-one, but also at that woman I see on the screen, flickering from light to dark, coy to prowling – as I remind myself that woman’s me.