We seem to have accidentally made an 8 minute movie for our Kickstarter video. Why? Because I am easily bored!
I spent several weeks telling Lydia that I didn't want to do an infomercial thing for kickstarter because I can never be bothered to watch anyone else's, while she looked exasperated and said "like what then!". It took us quite a while to realise that if we're a film noir, femme fatale lingerie brand, then THAT IS WHAT WE HAD TO DO.
I bounced the idea off two publicist friends of mine both of whom said they didn't understand it at all and that I was crazy. This appears to be my poor communication skills, since once I actually showed it them they were all "right, NOW I get what you mean! OK."
Our resources for this film were:
Lydia having a degree in film and video. And her own camera.
Being in central London and knowing people.
A tiny bit of cash.
Extremely tolerant and actively supportive flatmates, partners and friends.
Normally you need an awful lot more directors and a much bigger pile of cash. That said, if we'd had more people, I suspect we'd have had even more stress, albeit in wildly different directions (lack of space was an issue as it was).
Here's . . . 18? things to know about the film. But ask anything you wondered about in the comments :)
Historically, film/lighting set-ups were originally optimised for white skin, because racism. After filming we realised ours had optimised for Jess - all the footage and imagery you see has involved colouring Morgana in, as she was somewhat luminously white in the original!
Maz joined us at two days notice after our original replacement press person (in reality, Lydia covers press request at the moment, Maz used too) dropped out. Now, neither I nor Lydia have ANY IDEA why we didn't just book her in the first place. Temporary insanity, I suspect.
Maz and Morgana use their own accents. I'm using my own accent, but in real life it drifts around England (which has a different accent for every 30 minutes of travelling). Jess, the investigator and the salesman are the only people who can actually do accents like a real actor, due to actually being real actors.
We had to make last minute alterations to the gold bras and all the girdles after the factory messed a few things up (stockings, for example, do not sit round your ankles). These got done by the unsung heroes of the fashion industry - interns!
Did we get anxious about acting? Yes and no. Much of the plot is based on real life issues, albeit camped up enormously. We genuinely did have a salesperson who fed back that stores want changes to our imagery and sets in beige. Some of us have been groped at work. Morgana genuinely will want to shoot you if you try to tell her what to do on set!
Morgana was anxious about being on film talking for the first time though - she's been hiding her speaking voice for YEARS! She also nearly killed us when she was finally about to leave, then we realised we'd missed a scene. Whoops.
Jess was stressed out because her wig didn't come out the way she wanted (though she has given up caring what the modelling agencies want, happily)
Maz made sure to arrive in time to get Victoria-the-make-up-person's attention. I didn't ask if she was stressed, I just asked if she wanted wine.
The men are wearing make-up too. As with studio photography, the lights really affect how you look; I felt like I had a wax mask on, but don't look anything like that in the film or shots.
Also because facial hair can be high maintenance too.
Lydia wasn't stressed out about acting because she wasn't due to do any, but she was justifiably stressed out about absolutely everything else. Mostly because we had one day to get it right and no retakes, and things like lights going "fzzzt!" and then refusing to turn on and camera batteries dying kept happening.
Speaking of lights, they cost £85 to hire, and £1600 as a security deposit. Also, we don't ever want to talk about the kafka-esque admin involved in this, ever again.
The investigators office, the cell, and the posh background video bits are all at Murder Mile, which is about 7 settings in one warehouse in east London. The studio is actually a studio - it was Playful Promises. They were moving the week we shot, so when I arrived with Victoria, Beca and Yasmin the interns, plus emergency flatmate, we had to move 50 boxes to be able to get in (and later, moved them back again). It was a little more gritty realism than we'd have ideally liked, but it was also FREE, so hey. Thanks Playful :)
The weapons are also fake, apart from the steamer, which was real, and which Maz really DID clonk Edwin Fley over the head with. Whoops. However, the steam from the steamer was fake. Lydia was worrying about time, decided to cut a corner and "just add it in post". Now we are NEVER EVER allowed to say that again or in any way do that ever again. The only things added in post should be things your planned to add in post so that you know it's feasible. If there's one lesson you can learn from our films, that should be it.
Well, ok, that and "check the mic is recording". Because it wasn't for my bit, which meant 6 people were involved in reconstructing "what the heck did Catherine say here?". I don't stick to scripts. Lydia still isn't allowed to kill me.
Lydia would describe herself on this shoot as "a small pink ball of stress" and Jess, Maz and Morgana as "elegant" and in the former two cases "tall". I would describe myself as "staying the heck out of the way while they got on with it".
Facebook describes our video content as "too sexual in nature to be promoted". That includes me sat on a sofa talking about eyelets with Jess. Yup, my eyelets are too damn erotic.
By the end of the day, several of us had been on the go from 8am until 11pm. Micheal somehow managed to give us the perfect shot to express this earlier in the day.
I've missed out so much stuff. Ask anything in the comments, I'll probably tell you the truth!
Pictures by Rob Brazier, edited by Yasmin Rodgers.
A million thanks and credits in no particular order to:
Michael Imerson for being hopelessly outnumbered by senior Deadly women.
Morgana for risking wrecking her rep bey revealing her voice.
Maz for stepping in at the last minute and being perfect.
Jess Louise for being the only one of us who can pretend to be American.
Edwin Flay for spending all day with us just waiting to be smacked in the back of the head, AND helped on the script.
Benedict Edwards for audio and the excellent background music. No elevator rubbish for us, nope.
Victoria Stride for going above and beyond make-up duty and helping me haul boxes!
Murder Mile Studios for letting us run round for most of a day pretending we were cool.
Data Reprographics Limited, who I believe made us our very own newspaper!
Playful Promises for the loan of an entire and extremely authentic studio.
Taylor Smart for behind the scenes videos that are too damn sexy for facebook.
Yasmin Rodgers for sewing and picture editing and general running about.
Beca Shirazi for appearing on film in corsets with me without ANY notice at all.
Alex-the-flatmate for ferryng people about, doing backstage stuff, and running down a corridor after me with a camera balanced on a wheely steamer.
And of course Lydia! Possibly the only woman in the word who could have turned this into reality, especially on a miniscule budget!
Thanks to the generousity and enthusiasm of Karolina Laskowska, for the last few years increasing numbers of us tiny indie lingerie brands have been playing a Secret Santa game. Each year we check who wants to join in (time, enthusiasm and the ability to tweet are relevant), whether we can match everyone up sensibly (niche brands and their owners don't always align neatly in their size availability) and some other really boring stuff (like, is it possible to send something from the USA to the UK as a gift AND for it to be insured?).
Then we start sending out gifts that are surprises. None of the brand owners or designers know what they're going to get. I once got something pastel pink. Believe me, I was very surprised when I liked it!
This year we learnt many things from preparing for this. First off, as in life, minority groups are under-respresented in indy brands, though it would appear we are exclusively women! There are more brands than ever before - some old ones renewing themselves (it's been lovely to chat to Laura from Ell and Cee), others have been around a while but we've never met (hi Sandmaiden!), and I'm especially pleased to welcome Nubian Skin onboard, being as they are probably the fastest growing indie lingerie brand to launch in the last couple of years and they meet a hugely important need. No more pale beige "nude"!
Here's just one of their fabulous photos.
Here's the full list of brands to watch!
Ell And Cee
Who would you love to get a giift from? :)
In the not-well-controlled experiment of my life, one of many things I've discovered is that the difference between being 5'1 and about 7-and-half-stone, and 5'1 and about 10 stone, involves a whole lot of extra boob.
Left, 2008, right Summer 2015 (shot by Adrian Snood)
For crazy hormonal reasons, though the oversall size change happened slowly, the bust biggification happened in the space of a few months, which means there are STILL things that surprise me. I mean, I had 15 years of being a 34B/C (depending on the phases of the moon, sort of) and for some reason, they don't give you an explanatory pamphlet when these things happen :)
If they did, here's 5 things I wish it included:
1) I lead a pretty sedentary lifestyle, preferring to reserve my limited energy for the more fun forms of physical exertion. So it was a while before I discovered that when you get an extra 2/3 cup sizes, and then develop a rhythm, YOUR BREASTS JOIN IN.
Going in opposite directions to each other, I might add.
I really could have done with knowing that in advance. Though on the upside, it's enhanced my appreciation of tassel-twirling no end.
If you don't know what this paragraph is about, you're too young to be on the site!
2) It's alarmingly common for people to feel like it's ok to comment on women's bodies anyway, but once you have larger breasts, hell, even people who clearly know better start making anxious waggly eyebrows at you and basically asking what's up with that.
3) Not only are comments more frequent, but so is spontaneous involuntary sizing. It's always a risk in the lingerie industry; my favourite time was probably when a retailer who had never met me informed me over the phone I was wearing the wrong bra size, because "breath mechanics". Honey, I'm a former brass band player, and what I can do with my breath mechanics is, I can give you hearing damage. Try not to tempt me.
Aaanyway, now I spend way too much time in meetings or at social stuff or even just posting a picture online where you can't see most of my bra, with someone telling me I am wearing the wrong size/am probably a 30G/need to fix the sizes available around what I should be wearing (the latter would logically mean that I should launch a line of bambbo loungewear with dropped crotches, but that's a fight for another day). So that's nice.
4) Caught in a rainstorm in Sheffield (of course), I discovered that larger breasts handily form a funnel with which you can channel quite enormous amounts of cold water down the inside of your clothes, thoroughly soaking the front of your dress. AWESOME. Admittedly, I haven't tested if the same is true if I don't have a bra on, mostly because it was flipping freezing and I have no urge to rinse and repeat.
5) Likewise, it turns out that a plunging cleavage is an amazing place to store unexpected things. Lunch, biscuits, Swavorski crystals, someone's housekeys, the lost treasure of the Sierra Madrone . . . admittedly none of this is helped by my longstanding habit of storing phones, paperwork, cash and anything else I need close to hand in my bra.
Bodies; I wish they came with instruction manuals! And maybe also pockets.
If you want more busty tales of confusion, I recommend the rather brilliant Busty Girls Comics!
In this still from our Kickstarter video, I'm wearing a 32F bra that in NO WAY FITS, except it covers up enough to work for video. I just do it to annoy people :)
68% funded and about 6 days in, let's get geeky about the garments.
In all honesty I might not be the best person to write this post, since I'm more of a "this is how I saw it in my head" person than a "I think we should use a ZZ stitch here but a flatlock there" person, but let's start and if you have super technical questions I'll go and ask someone else!
From left to right; Pankhurst Burgundy set, Black Satin Demi-Corset with Swarovski crystals, Angelou Gold set with Grace Sheer Ruffled Robe.
The pictures used here are a mixture of Rob Brazier's, Alex Addison's, Lydia's screenshots from the video and Morgana's studio shots. Barring the studio shots they are, for the most part, unedited and unphotoshopped.
The Pankhurst Burgundy Set.
This started life as a mash-up of the Divine bra style, made into a full longline, the Tempest knicker, and a new suspender skirt because I was bored of the DeVille itself but clearly girdle-skirts are brilliant. The original ruched-wrap skirt was not working, though, so it got swapped out for a pencil skirt that was supposed to go with a jacket that hadn't worked out . . . so that's the black skirt you can see Jess wearing. The set is made from burgundy satin, black lace (similar to the Tempest lace), burgundy powernet dyed to match, and black and burgundy trims.
The bra is lightly padded, with a three-part cut and sewn cup and underwire, detachable adjustable straps, and hook and eye back. It's a full longline down to almost the natural waist, with the front being a burgundy satin centre overlaid with lace and burgundy powernet sides. The entire front has a none stretch sheer black underlay for support, stability and fit. The back is burgundy powernet with black hooks and eyes. The DD-G cup version varies in fit but not enormously in style. The top cup is burgundy satin and the bottom two parts are satin overlaid with black lace.
The knicker is a deep brief with a centre panel of satin overlaid with lace, burgundy powernet sides and a lace back. As the lace and satin are none stretch we put a bit extra in this to make sure you've got some wiggle room! The girdle-skirt has a centre panel of burgundy satin, covered in lace at the front and plain at the back. The sides are dyed-to-match burgundy powernet, with burgundy satin trim at the bottom and a deep but very stretchy elastic waist band at the top. There is a zip at the centre back, and the fit is that of a tight slinky pencil skirt. Our small sample fitted Morgana and Maz, while our black sample which had slightly more stretch in fitted Jess. The powernet is sufficiently stretchy to allow flexibility of fit, but the satin and zip can be put under strain if you size down. I know, cos I broke a zip on a small sample putting my 42 inch hips in :)
We also sampled a girdle and lace cape, but as the samples weren't perfect and I needed to make the kickstarter easy enough to actually understand, they were left out. If we bust way past the target then they'll get made!
And yes, that picture should have been a mugshot :)
The Angelou Gold Set
If you've known KMD for a while you'll notice that this bears some resemblance to the Van Mimi, which is one of the the styles everyone regrets not buying. This time it's way more gold!
The midi-line bra has an underwired, three-part cut and sewn cup that is more of a planging style than the Pankhurt, and is a stabiliser net with a lace overlay. The bottom two parts are gold and black all-over lace and the top is a gold-foiled baroque lace trim. The gold-foiling was done esecially for us and has caused no end of trouble; my attempt to gold foil lace mostly left everything (and everyone) gold foiled except the lace.
A black satin sling stle section is lightly padded to provide extra uplift and support, which the front is lightly boned and made from gold and black all-over lace over black net. At the back the wings are black powernet with black hooks and eyes and fixed straps with gold adjustable sliders.
The girdle is a longline version with a curvy shape, though due to the length of the bra it does not come up as far as the Vargas. The centre panel is the the gold and black lace over sheer black net, with powernet sides and back, and gold-foiled lace trim which sits flat under clothes. Six adjustable length garter tabs are finished with gold garter tabs. The knicker is a deep brief in the black and gold lace (no liner, which gives it a bit of stretch but I did check that you can't easily put your thumbs through it!) and a gold-foiled lace trim round the outside of the legline.
It's hard to show the gold-ness of this in a flash for some reason - this image of me sorting out with Maz where the girdle would sit best is probably the most accurate!
The Black Satin and Black Chiffon Gowns and Robes
Thus far the most popular question had been "How long are the gowns?"
The gowns are bias cut. Normally, if you look closely at a none stretch fabric, the threads that are woven together over and under each other go vertically up and down and horizontally side to side, but in these gowns, we cut the pieces out of the fabric so that the threads run diagonally.
This uses way more fabric than straight cut and is a bit tricky to sew properly, so it increases the price, but it means that the fit is much more flexible. The exact same sample of the Grace was used on both Morgana and Jess. Morgana is petite and Jess is very tall for a woman, Morgana is a size 6/30E and Jess more of a 12/36DD.
Bias cutting does mean that telling you the measurements doesn't help though - how long the gown is depends on how wide it has to go as with stockings!
It aso means the garments have no "hanger appeal" because their shape is largely about who wears them, though unlike using lycra to get that level of strech and adaptability, bias cutting skims the figures rather than clinging to it.
On the left, the Grace on Morgana wearing enormous heels, on the right, on Jess, wearing imaginary model heels like you do in shoots.
The Grace Gown and Robe
The Leonie gown is based on a vintage garment, with a distinctive cowl neck and angled, bias cut top and long skirt. The neckline is offset by adjustable spaghetti straps and been fitted on a 30E, 34B and 36D/DD. The long skirt has sheer black curved chiffon side panels and is longer at the back than the front, forming a slight mermaid tail effect when worn.
The sheer ruffle gown is full on Hollywood glamour, with a fitted top and nipped in waist (at the hieght of most people natural waists) closed by a hook and eye. A plunge front is matched with sheer sleeves with two rows of ruffes falling past the elbow. The full, sweeping skirt is finished with three rows of deep shiffon ruffles. Fit wise, the issue is shoulders and arms as the garment is relativey free fitting round the bust and hip, so use your dress size for your top half as you best guide.
The Leonie Robe and Gown.
The Leonie Gown has a 30's style V neck with wide shoulder straps, and an empire line bust with long bias cut skirt with an asymmetric sheer side panel. The back has a diamond shaped cut out and closes at the neck with a small satin covered button and loop.
The matching gown is also based on 30's designs, with a wrap design using unusual seaming to create a batwing effect, tapering to pointed wrists finished with covered buttons and loops. A full satin skirt completes the look, with a hidden tie inside and a matching satin sash for the outside to close the gown.
The Black Satin Demi-Corset
OK, so you're probably more excited about the cape, but put that aside for the minute and marvel at how genius a CORSET you can GET ON AND OFF QUICKLY is. (If you want to see how quickly then watch the end of this video)
The Demi-Corset has steel boning, back lacing with ribbon, a sweetheart neckline, waist tape, cotton countil lining, everything you'd expect from a corset, and enough to do a couple of inches of waist reduction (though not the 4 you can often get from our waspie). But we took out the front busk and put in a heavy duty zip instead, whoosh!
For the Kickstarter it's available in classic black (very versatile) or with swarovskis on it, which we have to do by hand, so that shan't be my job, thank you very much!
Any more questions? Stick them in the comments and I'll update!