Living in Dubai for a long time, I got to work with a number of awesome clients including Swarovski, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, making beautiful fashion and make-up videos that ended up on their social media pages. They were fun and the videos turned out pretty well; here’s one of the Swarovski ones:
Filmed by Rupert Chesman for Swarovski Elements
Filming these videos varies, some of them involve a lot of sitting around and brief bits of action, and some have about half an hour of hectic to get three minutes of footage. Yes there is an in-between but I’m not sure I found it. That Swarovski video was filmed over two days, and the models Masha and Olga were always standing in the same spot – so my challenge then was to keep making each shot different. Also I had to be on first-name terms with them as there were a lot of close-ups! My client mentioned how I had filmed the lingerie one very comprehensively, which is, um, the mark of the professional.
So when Kim Kardashian was coming into town, the lovely people at Haute Muse asked me to join them at Atlantis hotel in Dubai for their cover shoot.
I have to admit, I’m not too good at celebrity culture and I wasn’t entirely sure who she was or what she did. As a rule, I google the people I’m about to film, and dutifully researched all the videos she had featured in, including one with a DJ that was rather more detailed than expected, yet, after quite a lot of research, I still wasn’t entirely sure what she actually did. To be honest it’s a few years later now and I remain a little mystified. But off I went to a beautiful hotel suite to see what was in store.
When a celebrity visits any city they have a pretty strict schedule, as a lot of people want to see them, there are a lot of contractual obligations to fulfil, and they have a thousand social media posts to do. The bigger the celeb, the clearer the schedule has to be, as public appearances need to be controlled and prepared. We had her for 1 hour, to do all the cover shots. That’s a big ask.
She arrived and went into make-up straight away, which as a rule I don’t film. Whoever it is I’m filming, they usually don’t need a before and after unless it’s a tutorial, so I tend to film the last few minutes of touch-ups to help give the behind-the-scenes feel.
I’m never quite sure what they’ll be like, and my first meet with Kim is because make-up needs a light and theirs isn’t working. I offer them mine and set it up next to her, who smiles and says hello. Well that’s nice. Turns out she’s actually friendly.
There’s the old saying that whoever is nice to you but not nice to the waiter isn’t actually a nice person. I’m the waiter. She’s being nice to me. I rate that.
The filming itself is a whirlwind of clicking, preparation and the photographer getting what he needs. My job as BTS is to keep solidly out of the way, whilst getting all the shots, which isn’t always that easy when you’re in a fairly tight space. One of the producers tells me I can’t come in, and I have to just ignore them and push through, and slowly but surely I get all the shots I need for the final video.
I do one tilt down shot of her whole body, to get a nice shot of her figure for the edit. I’m standing behind her, frame up her head, and tilt down.
I get to her bum. It doesn’t fit in the frame.
I physically move the camera back, and film the tilt again. This was before ‘bumgate’, and I do hope I was the one that started it. It worked on take 2.
All in all it was a fun shoot and I got a lot more respect for Kim K that day, who was professional, got it done and most importantly was nice to the waiter. She got divorced from Chris two weeks after meeting me, which may be a coincidence…. sigh, we’ll never know.
And here’s the end result:
Filmed by Rupert Chesman for Haute Muse