With the concept I have in mind for the macabre narrative of Little Rag Doll, it really needs a fitting backdrop and location that will look the part and elevate the stylistic quality of the video. As the video involves someone being tied to a chair and taunted and teased by a voodoo queen, the setting needs to be grim and run-down to make the music video come to life. I asked the band and Mourn the Model if they could recommend a place in Leicester than would be appropriate for what we were looking for. Mourn the Model told us she had used an abandoned building for a group’s photo shoot project a couple of months previous and that it was incredibly bleak and rundown, which is what we were looking for. I am arranged a time for me and the band to check the place out whilst Mourn showed us where it was and got a train to Leicester. We explored a few of the rooms to take a few pictures but all of us quickly surmised that the building was definitely not appropriate and was a health and safety nightmare to walk around, and so I told us all to leave immediately.
Another reason that we decided against this location is that it looked very urban and did not match the look or backdrop of a voodoo den, despite how much set dressing we may have included. As such, the characters would have looked very out of place against the setting and would not have provided this added layer to the production. The set and the characters has to be seamless, with each complementing the other in order to not disrupt the audience’s attention. The most prominent reason for not using it though were the obvious safety violations we would have been disregarding, not to mention moving kit around during the shoot.
With our prime location now not an option, we had to look elsewhere in the Leicester area. Eventually the band’s bassist and drummer said that we could potentially use either of their houses for the shoot, which would give us unlimited use of either location with no need to rush through the shoot. I asked for each of them to send me pictures of their rooms where they felt it would be appropriate to film and received them the following day.
The advantages of this location are the colour schemes. The red really would add to the oppressive mood of the piece, and with candlelight would reflect very nicely and provide a very warm colour pallet. The scuffed wooden floor helps to generate the sense of an old and disheveled look which would be perfect for the look of the voodoo den. In terms of set dressing, we will need a table with things such as pins, ropes, knives and other miscellaneous items which the drummer has said he will cover by asking the prop department at his university. He has also said that he will hand-make the voodoo doll for the shoot due to us being unable to find an appropriate one online or in stores. The only downside to using this location is that it is fairly enclosed with not much space to move around, and with three tripod-mounted cameras, lights and the entire cast and crew needing to move around in between shots, it may prove troublesome.
The bassist’s house offers a few other advantages over the previous location. Although the colour of the room is very minimalist and clinical, this makes it a lot easier to dress and add colour to it ourselves. With a white room, we will not have to use as much light either, as the walls will reflect light around. The floor space is also massively spacious compared to the drummer’s room. This would make setting up and moving kit around vastly easier and safer. However, the room does not have as many intriguing furnishings and feels very modern, even if everything is removed.
With this in mind, we have decided to use the drummer’s house to film Little Rag Doll as we believe the potential to make the set look unique and stylized as well as the advantages it gives overall vastly outweigh the detriments. The band has also said they will provide all of the props, candles and dress the set for us so that we are all ready for the shoot. The band also booked a local studio; Quad Studios, for the second day of filming for the band segments. This location will be perfectly serviceable for these shots as the bigger focus will be on the narrative.
What I have learned from this location hunting process is that it is important to have a list of locations as a backup so that you don’t place all of your hopes on one, especially in my case if it doesn’t work out. I was very fortunate to find a location immediately after we realized our first wouldn’t be appropriate, which in hindsight was very lucky and may not have panned out. We knew as a team though that we were desperate to find a location in time for the shoot next week and in our desperation we found a much better place to film the music video.