Van Helsing Part I


I love doing personal projects. I made a promise to myself sometime back to go out shot at least once each week just for myself. I’ve been really good about it sometimes doing something small such as a few portraits other times the scope is larger such as the Van Helsing shoot I worked on several weeks back.

The whole process started when Steffen Hughes contacted me and said we should do something together like we did when we did the Action Hero series last year. During that series we held a contest so one of the fans of our Facebook pages could participate in the shoot. This year we held a short contest where fans suggested themes for a photo shoot. The one chosen would then have the opportunity to join in if they wanted. There was a lot of excellent suggestions but the one that jumped out was made by Kay Owens out of Arkansas. When Kay suggested a Van Helsing theme I knew we had our idea. I enjoyed the Van Helsing movie with Hugh Jackman and I knew the costumes would make for a cool shoot.

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The next part was to create a story and assemble a cast of characters.  I knew I wanted Steffen and  a model I had worked together with last year, Marysa Kirby, to work together. My original thought was that Steffen would play Van Helsing and Marysa a vampire seductress. Then while working on the concept I was talking with Marysa when we came up with the idea to switch roles. Everyone was expecting Steffen as the hero, but why not make Van Helsing a woman and let Steffen play Dracula. So from here the idea grew of Amanda Van Helsing who has fallen in love with greatest enemy of her grandfather Abraham Van Helsing.

With a basic idea and a cast of characters in place we begin making plans. I reached out to the guys at Ebed Pictures (the same guys producing the web series Darke) and asked if they would like to join in and create a Van Helsing trailer and a behind the scene’s video. With them on board the next part was scouting out and obtaining permission for locations. Our story was set at the end of the 18th Century so our locations had to have a feel for the period as well having a look that could pass for somewhere in Eastern Europe during that time. This was a challenge in south Alabama but with some days spent driving around and a few Google map searches we secured some excellent locations. I have to say a huge thank you to the fans on Facebook who helped with suggestions and even went out looking for locations for us.

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On the day of the shoot we started before sunrise and planned out a schedule that would have us at each location roughly two hours each. As I shot the photographs Ebed Pictures would shoot behind the scene footage, then as I set up for the next photo set they would film parts of the trailer. The great part of this is that everyone worked together without anyone needing to be the center of attention. Models and crew all just chipped in and gave their best. Even though there was no money being made, everyone contributed their time and talents for the sole purpose of just creating something fun and interesting.

For my part I wanted images that helped tell the story along with some “movie promos” to promote the series and trailer. To get the look I wanted I did more work in post than my typical image heavily desaturating the colors and a heavy use of blues to match the “horror story” feel. It was a massive undertaking to shoot everything in a single day and I couldn’t have done it alone everyone’s cooperation helped to make this happen. Our cast consisted of Steffen Hughes , Marysa Kirby, Kendra Brewer, Ivana Cox, and Kay Owens. On our crew was Kat  O’Connor for make-up, Paula Livergood and Daniel Cox for assistants, and on video was Joshua Sik and Javarice Moody from Ebed Pictures. It was such a fun day and I can’t thank everyone enough for helping make this happen. I look forward to working with everyone again. Also be sure to check out Part II with behind the scenes photos and video.

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