by Wayne Stuart
The last few weeks have reminded me just how lucky we are in this industry to work and be around such talented people. I’m not just talking about my colleagues, friends and various suppliers, but the clients and individuals we are fortunate to meet who become part of the story we tell through our creativity.
LIPA is a perfect example of this. We design and produce their prospectus and a chunk of marketing collateral that surrounds it. As part of the design process we regularly come into contact with the students and staff who make LIPA what it is. For those of you who don’t know, LIPA is a multi disciplinary performing arts university in the heart of Liverpool. Here they teach everything from Management to Musical Theatre, to students from all over the world. As part of the students’ education, experts from all over the globe regularly give a master class that will focus on one particular aspect of the performing arts. And that is how I was lucky enough to spend an hour in the company of Woody Harrelson. It was fascinating to hear first hand how this huge Hollywood star nearly froze, starved and was about to give up on his acting dream – saved only by a phone call and with no thanks to an overly paranoid girlfriend. His advice and encouragement to the students was priceless. Their reaction to him was also eye opening; there wasn’t any star struck fawning nonsense (that came from me) they just wanted to get every bit out of the session they could. The question and answer session was the best I’ve ever heard, I really got the impression that every student in the room thought “one day I’ll be in that chair!” An added bonus to all of this was that we could use a good friend and fantastic photographer, Deana Kay, to capture his visit (some of my favorites from the day are shown below).
The following week we were asked to art direct a photography shoot of a dancer the images from which would be used for a banner stand and within the new prospectus. This was no ordinary shoot and as you can see from the images above, no ordinary dancer. Jonny is an expert in aerial dance, this involves using the silks and wirework you may have seen in large theatre productions. The silks and the technique are hugely impressive; Jonny will wind them around parts of his body so he is suspended at various heights and angles held only by the loops and ‘knots’ he has created using his feet!! The moves were captured perfectly by Pete Carr in very tricky conditions, low light, and limited time with no chance of using a tripod. It was Jonny who controlled the shoot from 15 feet up!! It is time’s like these that you can easily forget that you have a job to do and just get caught up in the moment. It’s also very easy to feel guilty asking a guy suspended, upside down held only by his feet and thighs to “hold that for a few more, just a couple more, one more…thanks”. Not a problem for Jonny who was eager to push the shoot ever further. So, next time you see a show like Cirque du Soleil with the cast performing 30 feet above you, think of Jonny and the many students who are trained at LIPA, they may be one of the people astounding you with their skill, athleticism and, let’s face, a huge dose of bottle.
Thanks to Wired Aerial Dance, Cotton Street, for the use of their facilities and thanks to Jonny for just being Jonny.