The Moo Man movie project seems to produce a story every day. I'll never think of cows in field in the same way.
The film is full of stories. Even the story of the film itself keeps unfolding. The latest chapter is the Kickstarter project to fund the film's release and distribution, raising over £20,000 to bring it to cinemas throughout the UK. Screen Daily tell all (link below).
I was really honoured to be a part of the effort, and I was tasked with making a "Film Star" portrait of at least one of the herd, to promote the project and to offer as a reward for contibutors
But how? Could we get a cow to a studio? Not likely. Could we light one...or even the whole herd? Hmmm...these are feisty farm animals, not domestic pets. How do you get an expression from a cow?
Well the last one was easy.
The animals in Steve Hook's Herd are raised with respect and intelligence, and they're used to truly interactive human contact. They all seem to have very pronounced personalities and they are far from docile grass-eating machines.
And Clever Kate is typical
She's an old cow (in the most direct and polite sense!). If she had been part of a large herd, she'd have been culled by now. But Steve sets great store in giving his animals a good, long life. So here she is, still a very characterful member of the herd. And age seems to bring wisdom.
I picked her out in the edit, because she has those wonderful expressive ears, one with a distinctive tear, and that lovely measuring expression. She's not called Clever without reason, and there seems to be so much going on in her head. No simple grass-muncher this one.
The other great issue was with the background and the space...
I really wanted to have a "Panavison" format to the picture, but this was new territory for me and I kept trying to fill the empty space with meaningful objects that wouldn't quite fit...lost in Photoshop...
Using the shot with the simple, empty Pevensey Levels gives an opportunity to just project whatever we like into the space...future, present or past, and leaves it open for another story. Kate's expression, with her ears looking forward and back, kind of help.
So here I am, typing effusively about the character of a cow! Well that's how this film affects us.
I'm now adding Cows to my gallery of animal portraits...so I'll be updating the Dogs and Other Animals Gallery on the web very soon. Please have a look and tell me what you think....
I'm learning more and more about how to work with different animals and how to make pictures of them. Cows have been the trickiest so far, making the dogs, cats, horses and even the sheep look easy
But I'm a sucker for punishment, so look out for the "Cow Studio" shoot coming soon!