My best friend Nicki is in the final steps of earning her MFA in film from San Francisco State. The preparation for her thesis film, Woo Woo, has consumed her the past few months and up until this point, Nicki has done all the work herself. She has really impressed me—I know the amount of work that goes into a daily TV show and it has a staff of about 80 people—she is managing all the parts behind the scenes.
When she started her first year in the graduate program, she asked me if I would art direct her thesis film. How could I refuse the opportunity to work with my best friend on a project that is the start of her career—I couldn't say no.
It's been fun so far, 1950's image researching, photographing locations, prop shopping at Brimfield flea market... The film takes place in Astoria, Queens in the early 1960's—a period piece is more challenging then you might think.
A brief synopsis: Woo Woo tells the story of a young girl and her relationship to a brain damaged war veteran. Woo Woo, the war veteran, lost his ability to communicate after WWI. He now wanders the streets repeating "woo woo" to himself. The neighborhood children mock him. When the little girl's older sister makes up a story about Woo Woo's past, she becomes terrified of him. Her fear only heightens her curiosity as she begins to watch him from her window.
The first handmade prop I've made so far, is an embroidered Irish Blessing that will hang on the wall where the family gathers for meals.
First I ironed freezer paper to a piece of cotton fabric so I could run it through my inkjet printer. This is a brilliant, easy way to transfer a design onto fabric for embroidery. The small black text on this piece was all done with regular cotton thread. The green Irish Blessing and shamrocks were done with embroidery floss.
It feels so good to tie off the last threads and rub your fingers over a finished piece of embroidery. I always love the messiness of the back.
I found this lovely, old, lacey trim with a touch of green at Brimfield. Immediately upon spotting it, I knew it would be perfect for an Irish Blessing. I bast stitched the trim around the blessing and mitered the corners so it looked complete.
All that is left is framing. In order to print on the fabric, I was restricted to an 8 1/2" by 11" piece. It was perfect to fit in an 8" by 10" frame but there was not much wiggle room.
It wound up just fitting and I was able to pad the back a bit with batting to give the embroidery a soft, cushion feel.