I first heard about the story called The Magician's Apprentice when Adele asked me how to create some arcane techno-babble which actually meant something for a new fiction piece she was working on. I have a few useful books on the subject, and was able to provide some names and references. At what point Pandora adopted the story for Dreams of Spanking I'm not entirely sure, but I've been looking forward to the publication of this one for quite some time.
Adele is an excellent writer, and the scenario she created gave us, as actors, plenty to work with. Our day with Daniel R had already included The Captain and the Tavern Wench, so we were well in the mood for high-camp costume drama. We were also looking forward to experimenting with stills to create some visual effects that would have been much more difficult on video. And as an added bonus, I got to play Mr. Sheridan, Court Magician to the Empire:
Apparently the Empire ran to large beards that season.
Setting up for this one was almost as much fun as actually shooting it. Quite a lot of the paraphernalia we dressed the set with is either mine or Pandora's, and digging out the Fifth Pentacle of Mercury from The Key of Solomon always provides a good laugh on a wet winter evening. The actual chalk-work was mostly done by Jimmy, who's a fine artist (which I am not) and can write in Arabic (which I can't). We had a whale of a time putting candles everywhere and drawing obscure rude (or geeky) jokes onto the chalkboards in the background.
It's extraordinary how going the extra mile in the set detail affected the atmosphere; what you might call the Weta Workshops effect. The room felt different. Dressing the set created a good deal of tension in itself, and I found it very easy to get into role, even without dialogue, when acting against those elaborate props and backdrop.
I'll try not to spoil too much of Adele's story, but suffice it to say that after the kissing shots, we halted for a protracted faff with candles, to the accompaniment of much giggling. And then, as if by magic...
... a hand-crafted special effect leads to the young couple's discovery by Mr. Sheridan.
The richness of both colour and texture in the "enlightening" shot really has turned out as well as we'd hoped; I'm impressed by how well Daniel caught the moment.
As well as being a pleasure to work with on a personal level, Daniel kept pace with our rather eclectic imaginations all through the shoot, and always seemed to be able to tune in to what we were looking for. The half gothic, half steam-punk feel of this photostory beautifully matches the texture of Adele's prose.
If memory serves, this was also the first scene ever in which Jimmy and I interacted directly, in a CP sense. Balancing a new scene dynamic with character acting can be difficult, particularly if you are already as well acquainted as Jimmy and me. But on this occasion, it presented no problems at all. The story had a pace and rhythm to it that made staying in role easy, despite the stop-motion logistics of shooting stills, and the CP itself did not seem at all strange within the compelling motivations of the narrative.
Also, it was just so pretty...
An enormous amount of fun was had, and you've only seen the half of it: the plot thickens for young Sophie soon enough once Giles has faced the Magician's wrath. I'm really pleased with the final results: luxuriant colours and cabbalistic symbols enough to brighten anyone's day. Watch this space for part two.