Period films have a unique set of challenges — locations, costumes, make-up, props, etc., all have to be ‘correct’ for the time and mood of the piece. As you can imagine, a period film on a ‘challenging’ budget magnifies all of those issues. Luckily, for Dimensions: A Line, A Loop, A Tangle of Threads, I was surrounded by a great team of people, who made magic happen with incredibly limited resources. We do also have a ‘get out of jail free’ card with the film – something in the story that allows us a little leeway with period elements. I’m not going to tell you what that is, though — you have to see the film to find out for yourselves! I want to take a few minutes to share some images from the shoot and talk about the stylings and visuals, and how it worked with my vision for the film’s look.
Ant and I describe Dimensions as an ‘elegant sci-fi’, and I always knew I wanted a graceful and vintage feel for the film. Materials such as dark woods, brass and leather felt right for the sets.
This is Stephen’s bedroom. Set Decorator Naomi Moore discovered this fabulous wallpaper that looks very vintage — we chose for its warm, sepia-like colours and its wonderfully illustrated ships and islands, invoking the sense of travel. However, on our limited budget, we could not afford to wallpaper the entire room with this (not inexpensive) paper. As I was planning my shots during pre-production, I thought of how I could get all of the angles I wanted and needed in Stephen’s bedroom and still only wallpaper two, opposite corners of the room. (We even ended up doing a Chinese reverse for one shot — so as not to shoot off of the set!, i.e., off of our wallpaper — but I’ll not telling you which one it is!) And I’m pleased to say that I do believe I got everything I wanted without compromising.
When discussing the colour palette with Costume Designer Rose Bennett, we agreed that the costumes would mostly revolve around muted, neutral tones that tended to be warm and feel of the decade, i.e., 1930s and 40s, as shown above. Rose did a fantastic job of coming up with not only wonderful costumes but also ones that were sympathetic to the sets and locations. I love the mixture of green foliage, grey slates and Stephen’s warm brown and beige clothes.
Jane’s outfit for the garden party was one of many stunning costumes. Hair and Make-Up Designer Florence Carter added a sheen of daytime glamour to the party scene. Rose and Florence work very closely together and this is evident in their beautifully, complimentary designs.
Thanks to our Director of Photography Simon Dennis and his team, we were able to shoot very quickly. Our First Assistant Director Chris Burgess did a cracking job of keeping us all going and meeting an extremely difficult schedule. In the photo above, Florence does final checks (touching up hair and make-up for a take) while Henry Lloyd-Hughes (‘Stephen’) and I talk about SFX Supervisor Stef Pepin and SFX Technician Nick Phillip’s upcoming special effects shot that Nick is rigging. Simon, Chris and I were very aware that we had to get the footage we needed first or second time on the SFX shots as the budget and schedule would not allow us any more takes.
The above photo is of Annie in her academic-wear. There would have been very few female students in those days and even less taking physics/mathematics courses. Annie’s costumes and hair and make-up had to cover everything from workshop to university to more formal occasions.
This may look like a photograph of Rose smelling her hairbrush, but she is of course taking continuity shots. The speed at which we filmed and the different story days that took place meant multiple costume and hair and make-up changes throughout the day. Every look had to be carefully documented for matching the same story day for later shooting days.
In the coming weeks, I’d like to talk about some of the other behind the scenes-stars of the production.
Thanks to all the cast, crew and supporters of Dimensions…we couldn’t be doing this without you. Please share this with others.