Modern Screen: The Publicity Stills

Since we could only include a single shot of each model in our doomed dinner party for theones2watch, I thought it would be fun to put together an additional set of images. based on autographed production stills from Hollywood’s Golden Age. I mean, these kids are the L.A. all-stars, right? Why not give their fan sites and tumblrs a little love? And so I left a sign-in sheet by the studio door, specifically asking for cursive signatures from each of the thirteen cast members. I am pleased to report that penmanship is not a lost art amongst the children, contrary to popular opinion…


Ben Waddell (L.A. Models / New York Models) wearing Kiton; complete credits at theones2watch.com

My first order of business for 2012 is to shoot Ben Waddell properly. Ben was first up the day of our shoot, and seriously blew my mind. Frame after frame after frame after frame. Unfortunately, I had to ditch the unbelievable Roman profile shots in favor of something that suited the narrative. I spent all of five minutes with Ben, so apart from noticing his Australian accent, I learned nothing about him. I was, however, left with the impression that his greatest strength is his lack of weaknesses (or however that saying goes). The crew, on the other hand, had a lot to say about Ben. In fact, had there been a tag cloud of frequently overheard comments about Ben Waddell on the day of the shoot, it would’ve looked something like this:

KALIA PRESCOTT. Say it with me: Kuh-LEE-ah Prescott. Oh you know, a typical girl, nothing special really: 13 years old; Ford model; stuntwoman; tall as a Redwood; black belt in Tae Kwon Do; featured in the upcoming film The Hunger Games. A modeling agent (not hers) summed up Kalia to me recently: “Incredibly beautiful girl; she has those eyes.”

Those eyes. Kalia Prescott came to my studio a day before our official casting began, and we knew right away to make her the centerpiece of the story. It’s really pointless to try to explain, but Kalia has this strange ability to inspire. Also at the very top of my list of faces to shoot in 2012, I have a feeling that she can do just about anything, beautifully and without breaking a sweat. The team went completely gaga over her, and can we talk about her incredible mom? It’s worth scheduling a shoot with Kalia just to get some mommy-time…

Ricky Bennick (Bleu) wears Ralph Lauren; complete credits at theones2watch.com

Is it possible to be too good-looking? Too smart? Imagine combining David Gandy and Daniel Day Lewis’ DNA, and then adding up their respective IQ’s. Voilà: Ricky Bennick! Black hair, green eyes, Gods of Football physique, Men of Letters intellect. Crepe hair mustache not included.

Samantha (Photogenics) wears Vivienne Westwood Gold Label; complete credits at theones2watch.com

Before we’d even made it upstairs to the casting, Lisa and I had fallen in love with Samantha, in the parking lot. A classic Guess bombshell, Samantha bore an eerie resemblance to the young Claudia Cardinale (circa Il Gattopardo), making her the perfect foil for our eye-patched Jake Madden/Alain Delon.

As we took snapshots I explained to Samantha the whole idea behind the story, and she suddenly exclaimed “Oh, it’s like a game of Clue!” Yes Samantha! Like A Game Of Clue! OMG We Love You So Much! It went kinda like that. The day of the shoot, Samantha was every bit the living doll and screen siren we’d hoped for. Now all she needs to do is work on her signature…

Brooke Nesbitt (Vision / Women) wears vintage Valentino; complete credits at theones2watch.com

Anyone who knows me will tell you that they have heard quite enough about Brooke Nesbitt, thank you very much (btw I feel as though Brooke must have gotten hold of a Sharpie, because that is one assertive autograph).   Brooke!   The day before the shoot while I was running around doing some last-minute pick-ups, I thought of a whole Brooke editorial.  Well, two or three Brooke editorials, actually.  There’s just something about her.  For all the specificity of that beautiful face, she’s a total chameleon.  Case in point:  the only meltdown on the day of the shoot was between the two stylists, who had competing visions of Brooke.  Eugene wanted her in a watery printed silk Vivienne Westwood gown (Gene Tierney) while Lisa insisted on the beaded black lace Valentino (full-on Dietrich).  Meanwhile makeup guru Geoffrey Rodriguez was busy erasing the last vestiges of Brooke’s eyebrows with a combination of pressed powder and elbow grease (“We’ll just go with any Von Sternberg leading lady, for God’s sake!”).  OK I made that last part up, for dramatic effect…

Dietrich won out, in the end, and it was a good call (but note to Brooke: watch Leave Her To Heaven, at your earliest convenience!).  We could have asked Brooke to give us her best Hedy Lamarr, or even Shirley Temple, and either would have been a done deal.   Here’s hoping 2012 will provide us with opportunities to shoot some fun new things together…

A.J. English (Next) wears Gucci; complete credits at theones2watch.com

There’s a certain, um, rabid quality found amongst the legions of A.J. English fans, with fuckyeahajenglish.tumblr.com scoring a very impressive Alexa traffic rating!  There is a reason for this: A.J. English is – plain and simple – fucking awesome.   Another super-specific chameleon, he has what can best be described as a magnificent head.   Think lion.  Actually, think Scar, from The Lion King.  Full-on Sir Jeremy Irons….

Then there’s the famous hijinks: the pool parties, the Deejaying, the cross-dressing, the band, the ubiquitous dark glasses, the patriotic underpants, the zany gifs!  Madonna!  Slimane!  Taylor Swift! (please refer to fuckyeahajenglish.tumblr.com for independent study).  However, having now shot him twice, I can tell you, at the risk of bursting bad boy bubbles, that what is perhaps most striking about Andrew James English is his total concentration and professionalism on set.  And could anyone be more polite?

Our inspiration for A.J. was Robert Mitchum, and Night Of The Hunter happens to be one of A.J.’s favorite films, so we easily found ourselves on the same page.  Thank you A.J., and I hope to work with you in Temescal Canyon in 2012…

Note to self: nothing seems to bounce light into a model’s eyes in such a startling manner as vintage Limoges china….

Araya Nicks (Ford) wearing Valentino; complete credits at theones2watch.com

“Now that is a beautiful girl.” Thus spake stylist Eugene Ong, who usually just goes with the flow, without much in the way of editorializing. He also added later “She gave you so much to work with!” Clearly he was taken with Araya Nicks. We all were…

Araya was the first girl up, and since she had barbeque plans (we shot on Labor Day), she was determined to make everybody happy in record time. She was cast to play a knockout, narcissistic starlet, so Kali and Geoffrey obliterated the California Girl before passing her down the assembly line to Eugene and Lisa, who poured her into the one-shouldered Valentino (“We really lucked out” sighed Lisa). Araya loved her new look, and by the time she slid next to A.J. at the dining table, she’d become a different person. After maybe 30 frames, we had exactly what we needed, and so Araya Nicks disappeared as quickly as she came, into the bright L.A. sunshine…

Please note Araya’s signature: she dots her i’s with hearts!

Jacob Sones (Nous) wearing Hugo Boss Black Label; complete credits at theones2watch.com

Kali, the amazing Austrian hairstylist I love working with, plays a little game at every shoot: “Which old-school movies star does this model remind you of?” For Jacob Sones, Kali came up with the young Charlton Heston. I don’t really see the physical resemblance, but it is easy to imagine this larger-than-life Texan parting the Red Sea, or being The Last Man On Earth, or racing a chariot, or being the president of SAG, or even the president of the NRA. Don’t mess with Texas.

Jacob was, in fact, Our Last Man To Be Shot, and he waited his turn (to play our story’s doomed, soon-to-be-deceased husband) with easy charm and a good book. Incredibly handsome, soft-spoken and patient, we were all left with the impression that Jacob is a Quality Individual, of a type that you don’t cross paths with very often…

Tom Pricone (L.A. Models / Ford NY) wearing Gucci; complete credits at theones2watch.com

At only one point on the day of the shoot did I feel compelled to drop everything and text my friend Carl, with a giddy “Tom Pricone is in the house!” Rosie at TheOnes2Watch encouraged me to cast this story with a mix of new faces and established models, and when I found out we got Tom, I was over the moon. I mean, quite possibly the most beautiful human on the planet (and I mean today, yesterday and tomorrow), Tom has been the face of Barneys New York for countless consecutive seasons. And I’ve always been a very brand-loyal kinda guy.

Accustomed to working with pros like Peggy Sirota, Tom was such a great sport during our crackerjack shoot. Cast as the host of the dinner party, along with his fiance, played by teen-queen Kalia Prescott, it was unspeakably cute to watch the two of them bond and talk shop before getting into their places. I really hope I get the chance to work with Tom again in the near future – I have a print story planned for 2012 that I hope I can coax him into starring in….

Kayla Tangemann (Next) wears Vivienne Westwood Red Label; complete credits at theones2watch.com

Speaking of new faces, here we have the delightful and astonishingly beautiful Kayla Tangemann, who was scouted not long before we shot this story, and who managed to convey the ennui required by her role as Deirdre, the world-weary young wife of a screenwriter. Look closely at this image, for this is not retouching; the flawless porcelain skin, the crystalline eyes, the naturally platinum hair are all Kayla’s. Thankfully, her patrician features keep her more in the realm of Gainsborough or Reynolds, less in the neighborhood of Zuma beach (like so many blue-eyed blonds). Her amazing mom (also a blond, for the record) tells me Kayla’s been working up a storm since our story ran, which is nice to hear. Oh, and she’s an accomplished equestrian!

A touch of evil: Laine Jennings (Vision) wears Yves Saint Laurent; complete credits at theones2watch.com

Winding down with our publicity stills (it’s a large cast) we have the winner of the Good Sport Of The Year Award, Miss Laine Jennings. Laine, Laine, Laine….you walked into a trap, didn’t you? Lisa and I knew that no one but Laine could convey glamor in a truly despicable way. Here, she’s the visual equivalent of Chanel Number 05 mixed with Johnny Walker Black. And maybe just a lingering hint of Pall Mall. Laine gave me so much to work with; she’s incredibly in touch with her body and gestures – knowing which tendons to relax and which ones to tense up. And what I love most about Laine is that she headed to her Labor Day barbeque happily sporting this hair helmet. I love a girl who doesn’t give a shit….

And Then There Was Chuck: Charles Melton (Vision) wears Ermenegildo Zegna; complete credits at theones2watch.com

As I expected, Melton was the life of the party, happy to play a cliche in kimono and spectacles. During an equipment fail, I had a chance to join the cool kids, eating and hanging out on the couch (basically, Melton and Kalia’s mom), which was amusing, to say the least. Melton’s signature says it all – supremely confident and outgoing. If you haven’t seen his incredible turn in Dolce & Gabbana’s Journey To The East, you can watch it here.

Jake Madden (Ford) wearing Ralph Lauren; complete credits at theones2watch.com

There’s a moment in René Clément’s masterpiece Purple Noon, when the camera holds on the young Alain Delon’s passport photo; that’s the image I see in my mind’s eye every time I look at Jake Madden. And so, for theones2watch we outfitted Jake as another famous Delon character – Prince Tancredi Falconeri from Visconti’s Il Gattopardo. Jake was noticeably pleased with himself while wearing the eye-patch….

special thanks to the team, and to all the agencies

2 Responses to “Modern Screen: The Publicity Stills”

  1. Louise says:

    Wow. Brooke looks amazing. The details are just perfection.

  2. Megan says:

    lol fuckyeahajenglish is amazing

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