I was honoured when the good people of Fujifilm asked me to be part of the Pre-Production testing of the new X100F camera. As a documentary photographer, I've been working on a long term Jazz project for the past 3+ years which has gained a bit of attention recently. It also seemed like a good subject for this X100F assignment, which I had to produce still photographs and a short film.
Rather than bring someone up from the south all the way up to Scotland, I suggested to Fuji that I would make the video in partnership with my good friend Steven Hawkes. An interesting fact is that I met Steven because of the original X100. I had reviewed the X100 on my blog and posted many pictures and articles. So when Steven searched the internet looking for information on the camera before he bought one, he found my website. But instead of using the comments section or emailing me, he decided to use the phone. It turned out we were only a few miles from each other, so I asked if he would like to see the camera in the flesh and we met for a coffee. He did buy the X100 after that and we stayed in touch and became really good friends, meeting for coffee often and even going out shooting now and then.
Steven also has a health obsession for video and shoots corporate promo films, so he was the obvious choice when it came to shooting the X100F film.
Tommy is a jazz saxophonist, composer, band leader and educator. He is Head of Jazz at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and has a list of accomplishments that defy his age. Without Tommy, my jazz project would probably never got off the ground. I was honoured to have been part of his recent composing and recording project with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, producing pictures for the CD and even on the front cover of Jazzwise magazine.
When I told Tommy that I wanted to make a film based around jazz for a pre-production camera, he planted the seed in my brain to use The Hamilton Mausoleum as the location. I had been thinking more about one of Tommy's gigs, but the Mausoleum was a terrific idea. Tommy has a connection with this iconic building as he recorded an album called 'Into Silence' many years before. The building has one of the longest reverbs in Europe and that made it the perfect place for a solo saxophone piece.
I contacted the extremely helpful folks at The Hamilton Mausoleum the next day and got things rolling. I wasn't sure if I could hire an iconic building like this, but I did and it didn't break the bank either. Even before there day of the hire, Steven and I would meet outside the Mausoleum and shoot all the external scenes that feature in the film. It was winter and frosty outside. We froze our asses of during these shoots, but it was Tommy who suffered the most for our art.
On the day of the shoot, the interior of the Mausoleum was colder than it was outside. I was like being in a fridge and Tommy wore a suit and a pair of leather shoes. I also play saxophone, so I can testify that when it's cold, a sax is not an instrument you want to be holding! Tommy's feet and hands must have been extremely painful for the two hours we kept him there, but he's a pro and didn't complain once.
EDITING THE FILM
Editing proved to be a difficult job. Unlike a regular video edit where you cut to a piece of music used in the background, Tommy played live, so what you see and what you here are from the same shoot. Editing to live music is filled with many problems. But I think Steven and I pulled it off and we're both happy with the results. But the most important people I hope are pleased with the film are of course Fuji and Tommy. Steven and I set out to make something a little different from the average promo film. We think we have, but the viewers will decide.