This is a continuation from the post about The Big Funk, so you might want to start there…
The day after shooting Nylon Fusion’s The Big Funk, I was back at Teatro LATEA to shoot the sister production, A Snowfall in Berlin. Where Funk compacted the action into localized spaces, with occasional incursions from the house, Snowfall exploded the space, working edge to edge, sometimes with actions occurring in multiple locations and even timelines, simultaneously. It’s a whodunnit, but so much more.
Led by director Shaun Peknic, the play by Don Nigro feels like a film noir detective film, a David Lynch psychological thriller and a paean to the golden age of cinema with all the reels tangled together, like the treatment of the cyc at the back of the stage. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to shoot a full run through, timing being what it is, they were needing to work through one last time before opening, so I came in part-way through the action. What I do know is that a girl is dead. Rosa, an actress (Brandi Bravo), has been found dead in a bathtub and a hard bitten Irish detective Mulligan (Don Carter) is on hand to find her killer. The likely suspects are the other characters in and around the film she was acting in when she died. Director Natasha (Tatyana Kot) discovered Rosa and tapped her to be in her film, possibly derailing the chances of the other young actress, Megan (Stephanie Heitman). Two other behind the camera forces, fiery Italian producer Emilia (Jessica Vera) — who herself discovered Natasha — and smarmy British screenwriter, Coates (Eric Percival) round out the suspect list.
Mr. Peknic’s staging is visually complex and what you find in the resultant stage pictures vary depending on where in the shallow 3/4 thrust house you are — but each has been carefully considered. You could watch this show three times (at least) and see three very different takes on what is happening on stage. In this way, it was actually fortunate that I was shooting during a working session — I would shoot from one angle, they might stop and go back and I could reset to a different spot in the house and get a different view on the same scene.
The lighting in Snowfall varied quite a bit more than The Big Funk and there was much more use of color and, again, with different time lines happening at once, sometimes multiple colors across the stage. This kept me hopping a bit more on my settings (and in my post processing), but it definitely made for some striking images.
As with The Big Funk, A Snowfall in Berlin has some nudity. In this case, Rosa spends her time as a recently passed soul, confined to her bathtub. As I mentioned in my previous post, there’s a line to be walked between optimal artistic composition and the best composition for a shot that can be used for marketing purposes. Here, that was a question of inches. The lower the angle, the higher the edge of the tub is against Rosa’s body and there are several low-angle shots that really served the noir-esque character of the play. But sometimes looking down on the action gives the look you need and in those cases, more gets seen. As with The Big Funk and Love Gone Bad before that, my agreement is that the actor gets to approve what Nylon Fusion or I use.