Just before the pandemic hit I got a call from a friend, James Carnegie. James is an incredibly talented photographer and content creator. The conversation went along these lines; “I’ve got a job for you with the ‘swoosh’ if you’re interested?”
Immediately I was intrigued as to what this would be and when James filled me in I knew I was going to have a lot of fun shooting this project. It told me that it was a swim shoot for a new product line with social media influencer Nesrine Dally. Nez grew up a Muslim and when she chose to cover it meant that she had to let go of the swimming pool. There were no products available to keep her competitive in the pool or that allowed for full range of movement. Now that Nike have created the Victory Swim suit, this film was to share her story. The journey of freedom and joy she can now experience, since coming back to the pool.
As Director of Photography for the Nike Swim shoot I needed to understand each shot of the storyboard inside out. From tone to technical execution, it would be down to me on the day to call the shots and get creative.
When you’re planning a shoot, you expect something not to go to plan. This is where the old showbiz phrase ‘the show must go on!’ comes into its own. Filmmakers expect to be challenged in some way and as such are naturally resilient creatures.
The main challenge of this shoot was how to achieve the beautiful tracking shot of Nez that I saw so effortlessly executed in my head. Initially I tried swimming backwards with Nez swimming towards me.
This was good for all of 0.3s before I realised the sheer weight of the camera rig and the floppy orange fins had other plans. We tried static shots, GoPro shots (lighter), panning shots, but nothing was giving me the shot I was looking for. Time was getting on. We needed to give James some time for his photos. Not to mention we were due to have a large number of school kids descending shortly to use the pool. It was time for the DoP to do his thing. I looked around and noticed one of those lifeguard floating dongle things and had an instant brainwave.
I explained to Scott Jones (lighting guru) that I would strap the dongle around my chest and that he would need to haul me down the poolside as Nez swam alongside. Straight away it was a better solution. However, a small fly sat in my ointment…I couldn’t see the screen. Framing is sort of an important thing in the filmmaking world so this wouldn’t do. It was then that I had the whiff of a hare-brained scheme as the words…’tie the strap ’round your ankle, Pete’ (in your best Alec Guinness voice) came to me.
I explain to Scott Jones (lighting guru of the previous paragraph) that I really didn’t mind being dragged backwards in the water by my ankle unable to breathe for 25 meters because we’d get THE SHOT!
He carried out the instruction perfectly and we nailed the shot.
Getting creative on a film set is sometimes solving a more basic issue. For instance; we need to gaffer-tape a light fixture, or use a filter to create softer lighting. However, on the odd occasion the voice of Mr Guinness can be heard persuading you to think a little more differently.
See the full film on our Portfolio page or head to Nez, James or Nike Swim’s instagram accounts.
Did I mention I did a shoot for Nike? Okay, I’ll stop going on about it 😉