Written by Filmmaker & Producer, Paul Hollingsworth
Flying out to Spain to capture Shed Seven working on their new album recording has to be one of the best jobs I have been offered in my filming career. Arriving at the location was like I had stepped into a magical world of infinite mountainous views, blessed by the beautiful weather. After an hour in the car to the remote residential studio; I was greeted by Paul Banks, the Creative Director of Digifish and Shed Seven’s lead guitarist and songwriter who introduced me to the rest of the band. They were all enjoying a day off when I arrived so things were really chilled out and by the sun kissed glow of Rick, I think he had been indulging in the sunshine that day. I was then introduced to Youth, the producer and Michael, the sound engineer.
I started each day capturing the sunrise coming up over the Sierra Nevada mountains and then I would grab some establishing shots in and around the studio which Youth has suitably named; Space Mountain. Mid-morning, we would all go down into the studio, where the band would begin playing the song that they were to record that day. This was the part of the day where I was able to move around the studio more with the camera and get up close to the action. As soon as the recording commenced, I held back running around so much as it would be just my luck to knock a mic over on the best take...
It was actually quite a difficult task; to not to be too intrusive on the guys when they were recording, because they need to stay in their own creative zone and be focused on the recording without being put off by me pointing lenses in their faces!
I was also given a polaroid camera. I hadn’t used one of these things for years! But my mission was to take as many polaroids as I could. I loved the idea of this because not only do polaroids have a really cool vintage look to them but each one has their own individual story and no two photos are the same. There's a sentimental value with these polaroids that you just can’t gain from standard digital photos.
At the end of the day, the band would go back down into the mixing room where Youth and Michael had a rough mix of the track they had recorded that day. This was the part of the day where the band could sit back, relax and enjoy listening to the playback. It was a great opportunity for me to capture the laughs, excitement, surprise and all the other emotions that came out when they heard back a full mix of the track for the first time.
Come Wednesday, Youth had arranged for us to travel to some natural hot springs. A secluded waterfall area that was naturally heated from volcanic rock underneath. The lads had all been previously before I arrived and they had an idea in mind for a band photo... The idea was to take a silhouette style shot of them all in the water with the sun rays beaming through the trees in the background and in the foreground the steam rising up from the water to create a mystical eerie look to the photo. After a crazy bumpy ride wondering where we were going, we arrived at the secret location. Although today it was not so secret. The area had turned into a bit of a hippy hotspot camp site. Needless to say, they were not too pleased to see a cameraman waving lenses about. The sun had also decided to hide behind a sky full of clouds and the steam from the water was nowhere to be seen... It wasn’t all a fail though! We had a nice soak in the springs which left us all feeling refreshed, and for the first and probably only time in my life, I saw a dog that was shaved to look like a lion.. (see below). The band photo just wasn’t meant to be.
Each member of the band had their individual character traits and living under the same roof for that week, really allowed me to capture not only their individual musical abilities, but also their characters outside of the recording room. Who would have thought that the bassist, Tom, could rap! I have evidence of this….… When interviewing Alan about each track he got confused and thought we had finished the interview when I read Thank You; we weren’t even halfway through the interview.
As a filmmaker and musician myself, I found the whole experience fascinating and being a part of that process was incredibly exciting. The journey that Shed Seven are on is really inspiring. The album is sounding amazing and I can’t wait to see where it is going to take them this time around...