So we have reached the final part of my bumper issue blog where I took you on my journey of how it all started for me with my passion for both motorcycle stunt riding and photography.
In part two I shared about my photography style or signature look which more often than not includes colour coordinating my shots and using a watch worn inside the wrist for the majority of my images, it's about introducing colour into the shot. I feature the strap as part of the colour palette as if it were more like a bracelet than an actual watch.
In part three I share how colour is used to convey meaning, emotion and promote a brand and how I use colour for my commercial and model photography shoots. When it comes to advertising and marketing, colour is a powerful tool.
In part four, I talked about the psychology of Colour in Film, TV and Cinematic Photography and In Film and TV, how colour is used to stir emotion and affect the mood of the audience and I reached out for a Q & A with Production Designer, Malin Lindholm.
Introducing colour into my photography is something I've been doing for many years, even before I understood the importance and power of using colour to create an emotion. If you're looking for a subtle way to make a scene or image resonate emotionally, there may be no better way than choosing a colour associated to create that emotion.
Which leads us on to a few weeks back where I discovered a film which uses a similar colour coordination technique as I do in my photography.
One evening in 2020, while relaxing at home with Mrs Jones and flicking through Netflix, I came across a film starring Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck and Willem Dafoe called ‘The last thing he wanted’. Directed by Dee Rees ‘The Last Thing he Wanted’ is a political thriller based on the book with the same title. It immediately grabbed my attention not only by the plot but also how the film made excellent use of limiting the use of colours by colour coordinating the cast, props and set design in any one scene.
Above: Anne Hathaway in The Last Thing He Wanted
Although Ms Hathaway had a number of costume changes throughout the film, whichever colours were used, they always complimented her hair, skin tone, makeup and set colours, her personal belongings were rustic dark brown and never changed which gave continuity to her character. She wore carefully selected colour matching brown props including the watch she wore, this had a brown leather strap; also brown sunglasses, shoes, diary, clutch bag and purse.
As I shared in Part Two my style and trademark look in photography, whenever possible I colour coordinate my shots by using watch straps, props, furniture and pretty much anything which will complement the image and suit the style of image I’m creating; whether that’s for a commercial or a creative shoot. I noticed very early into ‘The last thing he wanted’ this look was also used.
Above: Anne Hathaway wore carefully selected colour matching brown props including the watch she wore, this had a brown leather strap; also brown sunglasses, shoes, diary, clutch bag and purse. Credit Netflix
Take a look at the images below to see how carefully selected complementary colours from opposite ends of the colour wheel are used for not only Anne’s character but for the support actor's, extra’s and locations.
Even both cars in the above image continued to keep the colour style consistent. The film set, costumes and colours used were chosen to complement each other and enhance the viewing experience.
At the beach house scenes, all the colours used complimented each other, teal, blues, orange, blue and greens.
There are also a number of action scenes throughout the film which caught my attention. In recent years, I’ve been keen to not just photograph cinematic images but create a storyline and script too. That’s how ANDIE and Protection Command came about, more about that in another blog soon. Of course, I still have an interest in stunt work so decided during this time of Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown to reach out to Michelle Cortes who is Anne Hathaway’s stunt double in the film and chat to her about her career and involvement in the film. Michelle was kind enough to answer my questions and allowed me to share them with you.
Above: Left Anne Hathaway and her stunt double Michelle Cortes. Images courtesy of M Cortes.
Phil: How are you coping, Michelle both physically and mentally during COVID-19 lockdown? Are you keeping yourself busy or using the time to chill?
Michelle: I definitely keep myself busy as much as I can but also take time to chill because life is all about balance, no? I have found it very helpful to create a routine and schedule throughout the days. I have a small gym in my house where I do all of my training and dedicate a few hours a day everyday to work on my body and techniques. I also have scheduled classes through Zoom where I learn different skills and keep the mind busy. And lastly, I keep a healthy diet filled with nutritious foods to help me keep a positive attitude throughout this situation.
Phil: Am I right in saying you started as an actor and model and progressed into stunt work?
Michelle: I started acting in the theatre when I was 12 years old and decided I wanted to pursue it as a career when I graduated school. I studied Drama in the University of Puerto Rico and shortly after completing my Bachelors Degree in Drama I started professionally working in the film and commercial industry as an actor. It was through my work as an actor that I progressed into stunt work. Currently, I find myself working as an actor, stunt performer and model as well.
Phil: Would you mind telling me a little bit about yourself, your passions, interests and skills and how you became a stunt performer? Is this something you have always wanted to do?
Michelle: As I mentioned before, I have great love for acting which is why I decided to study it and pursue it professionally. It is my passion to serve as a tool to tell stories which also includes stunt work. We are performers and actors who take you on a journey of a character and help communicate what they are going through physically and emotionally. Besides doing theatre since a young age, I practiced martial arts which helped me have the ability to do stunt work. I worked in a movie as an actress a few years ago where my character had a couple of stunts which I performed myself. It was then where I discovered my love and ability for stunting and little after that I had the opportunity to work with the stunt team in Puerto Rico. I kept training and learning new skills throughout the years and still do of course. It definitely wasn’t something I thought I would end up doing but I think that’s the beauty and romance of it all, unexpected love.
Phil: How much training did you have before performing stunts in the industry and who, if anyone, helped you?
Michelle: I trained in martial arts since a young age and also have a little bit of dance background which can be very useful when performing stunts. But it all comes to training with stunt coordinators and fellow stunt performers. It is with them that I learn and continue to learn everyday all about stunt training and the safety of it all.
Above: Michelle wearing exactly the same outfit as Anne Hathaway as seen below with Toby Jones
Phil: Can you tell me about the process of working with the costume and prop team?
Michelle: As a stunt performer it’s always interesting working with the costume and props because it will always depend on the type of physical activity the scene requires and what type of costume the character has. I love challenges and being able to serve the story in a safe way. It is very important to have communication with the costume and prop team and knowing what will be used in a scene. For me as the performer the process involves studying the scene, the props involved after communicating with the art department, are there any weapons? Was the character in a party? Or the beach? Little clothing? Or a lot? Will I be able to wear protection under my costume? As in elbow, knee, shin pads, etc. Study the character, how she moves, how the actress moves if I am doubling, and rehearsing.
Above: Michelle Cortes with actor Edi Gathegi
Phil: What was the most memorable experience and new skills you took from working on this production?
Michelle: I think the entire process was the most memorable experience for me ha. I absolutely enjoyed working with such an amazing cast and crew. I always take with me new skills from each production I work in. It’s the beauty of the job, it’s a constant learning experience.
Phil: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to work in the film industry either as an actor or stunt performer?
Michelle: Study, train and persevere. Like any other job, one must study and go through a training process to be good at it. The best advice I could give is to constantly work on your craft, and put in the hours of work. Because we live in an abundant world with lots of opportunities, and those opportunities will come one day knocking on your door and you must be ready for it. So don’t give up! And be prepared.
Phil: I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me Michelle and share your experiences. Once COVID-19 lockdown has been lifted? Do you have any exciting plans for the future and will you be visiting London again so we can shoot together?
Michelle: Yes! Hopefully once the lockdown has been lifted my #1 plan is to reunite with family and friends and hug every single one! Hopefully, as well we will all be able to go back to work and keep doing what we love to do. I was working in a film when the COVID-19 lockdown began so hopefully we will be able to get back and finish what we started. I sure have plans to travel and visit London very soon! I’ve had the opportunity to visit a couple of times and I am absolutely in love with the city. I can't wait to visit London and will absolutely enjoy a shoot!
The last thing he wanted
It is the Costume and Hair & Makeup Departments job to make Michelle look as though she’s Anne Hathaway’s identical twin, from the hair colour and style, to makeup, blouse, skirt sandals and wristwatch.
Even the blouse has holes and small greenscreen areas for squibs which are used for special effects.
Above: Michelle at work as Anne Hataway's stunt double in The last thing he wanted, Netflix Original. Make sure you check out the film and look out for Michelle’s stunt work and see if you can tell them apart!
Above right: Michelle with Dee Rees
Below: Green screen with stunt double Michelle Cortes.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog, which is a little different to what I have posted before. It has taken me on a different path, reaching out to others in the industry and hopefully sharing insights into the world of Film and TV as well as my personal story. If it has inspired you to help you find your own style, please let me know and share your images. Writing this blog and looking at old images has given me a few ideas too for moving forward which I'm very excited about. It's still important for me to enjoy what I do every day, and helping my clients grow their business or brand. I can't wait to share some new work soon.
A special thanks to Michelle Cortes for all her help, I’m looking forward to meeting and shooting with you one day.
Michelle Cortes Instagram
IMDb Profile Michelle Cortes
As always I'd love to know what you honestly think so please get in touch. Thanks for stopping by to take a look, don't forget to connect with me on social media if you haven't already.
Connect with me on social media
Links to previous Blogs in this series
Click HERE to read Part One Motorcycle Photography: My Journey into the Motorcycle Industry
Click HERE to read Part Two Creating a Signature Look in Photography
Click HERE to read Part Three Using Colour to convey meaning, emotion and promote a brand
Click HERE to read Part Four Psychology of Colour in Film and Cinematic Photography