The Photo Shoot
So we shot the poster.
A team of three went down to the beach at the very end of a sunny day. This was the team: Nathalie klein Selle, the supremely talented Dutch actress who plays one of the two leading roles in the film; Oren Hasson, who is, among other things, both a professional photographer and my father; and myself (writer and director).
The concept for the poster was simple: Nathalie is a superhero who, though practically dead, cannot actually die. She’s been swept away by the seas and wound up on the shore. The original concept for the poster had her lying in the sea, half her face in the water, half out, eyes open wide, body dead. Working off the concept, Oren could start trying different alternatives to see what would work and what wouldn’t.
Oren picked the location. He chose a piece of beach that was almost completely covered with seaweed. It looks amazing in the photograph, but was actually pretty disgusting in reality. Though the day was scorching, the sea was freezing. Nathalie got into the dress and into the water, quickly getting her head into position, half in and half out.
We spent the next hour putting her in different positions, putting the camera in different positions, trying out different lenses and variations, until we felt we had enough good shots to choose from.
At a certain point I found myself grabbing two fistfuls of seaweed saying, “I want to put this in her hair. Can I put this in your hair? Can I put this in her hair now?” Okay, I may not have phrased it exactly like that. It may have been phrased with more poise: “I think we should put more seaweed in her hair. Nathalie, do you mind? Dad, will it work in the picture?” But I wanted to say it like a six-year-old.
Nathalie was a complete pro. She never complained about the freezing water and the wind, didn’t ask once to stop, and was completely there, emoting as her character, whenever the camera was shooting.
During the following week, Oren went over the pictures, tweaked them, and sent me the best ones to choose from. I picked the one you see in the poster above, wrote the texts for the poster, and then met with Oran Almog, a gifted graphic designer. He turned the picture into a poster, and what a great job he did!
The Element of Luck in Shooting the Poster
As you can see, Nathalie’s red dress, which she brought from home, worked supremely well against the color of the seaweed, which neither she nor I knew would be there.
Luck plays a huge role when creating a work of art, whether it’s a film, a poster, a theater show, etc. I’m a big believer in the magical appearance of good luck. It’s not that I think luck goes my way in life or that good things are more likely to happen to me than not, it’s that when you’re working on art and you’ve done all your homework and you work with talented people, suddenly almost everything falls into place in a better way than you would have ever expected.
I’ve seen this happen again and again. When we shot Heart of Stone, my last film, the actors were so talented and so prepared, that it seemed, magically, as if everywhere I put the camera was the perfect place to shoot from. In fact, we created an environment for the actors in which it seemed like every new choice they made was good, in character, and helped tell the story. It was a shock to a couple of them, when the shooting was over and they moved on to their next projects, that suddenly not every decision they made was a good one.
It was the same thing with shooting the poster. I didn’t get a chance to see Nathalie in the dresses ahead of time (remember: The Indestructibles is low budget, people are also working for a living, and free time is scarce). She picked a few, emailed me pictures of the dresses on a bed, and we picked three to bring to the location. I didn’t know what the beach would look like ahead of time, either. But this is why it worked: the original concept was good and represented the film; Nathalie is talented and completely grokked her role; and Oren is talented and understood the concept completely, but wanted to add his own element to it.
So when we got to the beach we discovered that the red dress worked best with the seaweed green, and, as if by magic, everything clicked better than expected. I wasn’t worried, because I was certain that if the red-green coincidence hadn’t occurred, something else would have happened to make the photo shoot magical. When you’ve got the right people, magic happens every time.