A crushed phone, a pair of glasses lost to the sea and an eternal stench of fish that haunt these gallant people forever - thank you so much to all of those mentioned below for helping me create my next Dreamcatcher Project image!
So, the concept behind ‘Face Your Fear’ is based upon a personal experience last year on holiday. A dodgy piece of calamari left me horribly ill and what I considered to be at the time, crawling back and forth to the bathroom, as deaths door.
Projectile vom and a head to toe purple bruise type marking…I was looking less than F.I.T. Since that day, that strong…fatty *puts hand over mouth*…fishy *heave*… pong of battered calamari turns my stomach.
Taking my newfound ‘fear’ into consideration I began thinking of it in a more literal sense. My mind envisioned a wooden boat cast upon a pebbly shore, with a profile shot of a head hanging over the back and a long legged octopus draped over the face. The thought made me giggle to myself amongst the gags, as the title ‘Face Your Fear’ came to me.
Knowing I would be travelling to Canada in less than three weeks time, I threw the idea in the direction of Von Wong who brilliantly agreed to help me out. Funny how the immediate response required very little persuasion…clearly the opportunity to throw a giant squid at my fizzog was one he could not resist…
On my first full day in Montreal (aside many other shenanigans involving squirrels, mountains, Vietnamese food and climbing a million billion steps…find out more by clicking here), Ben showed me a lake that would be perfect for the concept. It was under construction and had been half emptied so the protruding rocks were ideal for draping myself over.
We had looked for a boat but I was determined that only an old wooden one would suffice…which unfortunately we couldn’t locate. Failing to find one suitable, a picturesque rock was to replace the role of the boat and it would be no problemo. We had our spot.
Everything was shaping up nicely as we swung by a fish mongers (several phone calls later) to purchase Olly…the most disgusting smelling octopus my nose ever had the misfortune of detecting. Flinging his frozen tentacles into the fridge for three days we were prepped for Thursday…and it was game on.
Having decided upon the styling back in England, I brought with me a vintage nightgown and long ginger wig. Shoot day arrived and we packed our bags, heading back to the lake with Julius Adarna and Allison B to meet the rest of the team that Ben had arranged to assist us.
Trundling up to the lakeside, upon arrival we realised we had a code red situation….
OH FECK, the lake had been filled!
All of the deep water was back. I couldn’t believe my eyes! No perfectly protruding rocks, no easy access to shallow water…and no way was it going to happen there.
Feeling a little deflated but undefeated we racked our brains to think of a new location. Jeffrey Vincent Malo came to the rescue with a brand new suggestion which turned out to be the perfect place and far better than the original could ever have been.
I guess some things happen for a reason.
Armed with lights, camera, costume, octopus and donuts…it was time to squid me up…and Olly STUNK. He reeked of old fish…and he was sprawled all over my face! His long slimy legs slid slowly down my neck, his heavy jelly head flopped to the side and my breaths became as short as I could possibly make them without passing out.
I was quite literally face to face with my fear.
BTS image by Von Wong:
BTS image courtesy of Guillermo Castellanos:
The original idea was to lie flat on the rock, however the stillness of the body no longer correlated with the rapid waters of the location. Some oomph was needed into the shot. As important as it is to plan your shoots, it is more important to prepare to un-plan and be willing to change where necessary.
Peeling back the octopus from my face whilst pushing myself up from the rock using the back of my head, the waves crashed upon the shore. There was feeling and a far more interesting narrative. A crowd began to gather watching Olly’s legs gently caress my cheeks (note: this is not a porno). I lifted him slowly higher and higher, as the waves got louder and louder…and so close to vomiting, I was relieved when Ben called time and said we had the shot.
BTS image courtesy of Guillermo Castellanos:
I knew I could rely on the infamous Von Wong to deliver everything and more that I could ever have hoped for.
Despite there being a dent in the back of my head from pushing off the hard rocks, my makeup-less face reeking of dead fish, my hair still oozing octopus juices and my vintage night dress being covered in green algae…looking at the shots there was drama, emotion and a story - and I smiled.
The final image - ‘Face Your Fear’
I smiled even more so when it was said that I will always be remembered as the model in Montreal who made out with an octopus - I don’t usually write ‘lol’…but ermagod…LOL…
After completing my Dreamcatcher shot, there was a second we needed to complete. The idea was to create two images using the same prop - then we’d have a Jen version and a Ben version. Our own individual take on a similar theme.
Adding an open silk nightgown to the nightdress as well as a long ginger wig (as used in Mail Order Bride), along with some strewn about wooden planks, some chains and a red lantern and of course our octopus…Ben’s shipwreck creation came to life.
And then Castaway was created:
The shoot was over. I was so pleased with what we as a team, had achieved. Giving Olly the Octopus and his foul smelling odour one last look, it was ready to ‘release’ him back into the water where he belonged (sort of).
Ben invited his mini army back to his house where a promise of fire spitting sounded intriguing. Now anybody who knows me will tell you that unless the idea is completely insane, life threatening or just damn right ridiculous…I will pretty much try most things once. As Jo Rutherford once described me; ‘mischievously curious’ in everything. I mean who else would allow the rotting corpse of an octopus upon their bare face?
How I concurred that fire breathing didn’t fit into one of these ‘danger’ categories I cannot explain. Perhaps it just had to be done.
Ben showed us how to spit mist with water and made us practice over and over again before allowing us near the paraffin, all the time insisting that it was a dangerous act and it was our own responsibility to take care of ourselves. My hands were shaking as adrenaline took over but I wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity.
Taking hold of the engulfed torch, fuel food spilling out of my mouth and with the camera rolling…I took a deep breath in and….
PPPFFFFFTTTTTBBBLLL <—— My spitting noise with a bit of dribble. Obvs. With thanks to Ben for capturing my first fire spit on camera!
The heat was intense but I was buzzing! Still shaking…but in a good way. One more thing to check off the bucket list!
Ending the day with two showers and still ponging of old fish, Allison kindly agreed to take me off Ben’s hands for a couple of hours driving me up the mountain to see the sun set over Montreal city amongst the wild racoons.
We picked up hotdogs and a heart attack in a foil dish, also known as poutine…Quebec’s answer to salty cheesey chips with gravy.
Nom nom nom…so good!
It wasn’t long before the food attracted the attention of the little critters I was so eager to meet. (Thank you so much Allison for taking me!)
I loved them. Racoons are officially awesome.
Although he didn’t believe me when I told him there was none left.
It had been the best day and I had loved every second of it. This is one image that will stay in my memory (and nose!) for a very long time. With big thanks to photographer Von Wong and assistants Julias Adarna, Allison B, Jeffrey Vincent Malo, Guillermo Castellanos, Nicolas Beauchemin and Andre DF.
Want to see how it all happened? Click the link below for my first ever behind the scenes concept video!
Until next time bloggies, over and out.
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