We have pretty much completed filming for the year and as we head into winter and make preparations for 2022 there is a bit more time to take stock and try new things.
I’m asked a fair few questions on this blog by the dozen or so regular posters and that’s fine and I try to answer what I reasonably can. Last Christmas, I revived a Deviant Art page with a few anecdotes about shoots, and strange things that happened. There’s not a massively interested group of people there, but it was quite well received. I thought then, in the run up to Christmas (and possibly beyond if there is interest), whether or not you might be interested in some more stories about shooting NGC/AC/Champ/KC/UPL over the years?
If so, just reply in this thread about a particular video that you’d like to know more about and maybe I’ll be able to remember something. I don’t know if this will be popular at all, but I figured I’d see just in case. This is not the kind of thing I’d do on a social media channel because primarily we just get ‘Likes’ and emoji’s on those, even when I ask a question.
If you have a more general question too, then you can ask and I’ll answer if I can.
I think I’ll do this one day a week, so questions and answers are kept fresh.
What was the longest shooting of all?
I’m not sure I can single out one video as definitely being the longest to shoot, but they are all probably from the first couple of seasons. This was mostly due to not quite having the correct crew mix, and in my case, learning how to do this stuff as I went. 2009-12 we had more crew, and instead of directing the videos ‘directly’ as I’ve done since then, I tended to be quite light touch and get the benefit of their experience. This was very beneficial, for sure, but it was also quite slow. Crew who had a background in making TV dramas and well-funded feature films were used to an environment where it was somebody else’s money being spent. That’s not to say there weren’t pressures, there were, but there is more time to get things right. This means a lot more takes, and from a lot of angles. Where I might now get 2 takes of a heroine saying a line, in the angle I know we will actually use, because no one had that insight back then, you would take 5 or 6 takes of head and shoulders, 4 takes mid shot, 4 takes wide (where the audio wasn’t much good for purpose anyway). Time disappears. When fighting, if you ask actors to do something 10 times to ensure you get it good in every conceivable angle, you are exhausting them, which wasn’t really something that crew considered. Anyway, I can go on and on about this and that’s not really what you asked.
One of the longest was Season 1 Episode 3 with the Golden Hornet. It was about 15 hours or so. Shot in February on a bloody cold day. We did have a ‘warm room’ at the shoot, but it was barely used by Golden Hornet as she was in almost every shot. Really tough shoot, probably why she never came back!
I am up for any Celestia stories!
Can you be more specific? I’d like to talk about individual shoots if we can.
I would second more Celestia.
Id like to see more of her jobber career for sure.
Id like to see her up against nemesis and Id like to see some situation where she is a little mind controlled but trying to fight against it
Dr G says:
I never knew that NGC had a Deviant Art page 🙂 Any stories about ‘actors or actresses from hell’ (without naming names) that you can share ? Thanks !
We’ve been very lucky. In general, if someone didn’t really enjoy it, they’d still complete the day and simply not come back. Either by ignoring emails, or making up some bullshit about going on a 6 month theatre tour where their social media directly contradicted this, or far more respectfully, just saying it wasn’t their thing.
One guy does spring to mind, obviously I won’t say who. We shot 2 days with him. After the first day, his agent called me and said that on the second day he had an audition to go to, and couldn’t be with us until lunch-time. This is profoundly unprofessional, but people are always mistaking low budget for low talent. We had very experienced crew on that set, who collectively had worked with everyone in the UK film industry in one way or another, and they all thought this was a total joke, and likely remembered the guy.
He shows up at noon, in a bad mood because he had a crap audition and probably didn’t want to do our shoot. We’ve shot so far completely out of order, jeopardising our own video in the process, no ‘thank you’ for that. He gives a passable performance, we both know we won’t be working together again, so little effort to pretend otherwise without being explicit. Later on that week I notice on his Twitter feed he’s moaning about how he had to do a shoot the other day, and it wasn’t very good! This actually didn’t surprise me as he spent most of our shoot complaining about other things he’d done. Just a crap attitude. As far as I know, he didn’t hit the big-time.
On the female side nothing like that. Just people who decided not to come back. In most of those cases we weren’t too unhappy because you don’t want to be on set with actors who don’t want to be there.
Dr G says:
Yup ! This guy sounds like a grade A jerk ! 🙂
There’s a lot a videos I’d like to ask about, but I’ll start off with the epic Bluebird 2020. There’s got to be some good behind-the-scenes stories about the making of that one (or four). And I know the actress mentioned in her Q+A video that that was her favourite one, too.
I think her main reason for liking it was that it was almost like a separate planned project. In pretty much every other video we’ve made the scenes that might appear to be dialogue only and filmed separately were really just around the corner, or outside, and then having shot them we film the fight section.
With Bluebird 2020, and Play Dead to an extent, we shot purely dialogue days with no fighting involved. The cottage belonged to an older guy who was quite a hippy-type and who lived about 20 miles outside of London. All we shot there was answering the door to the Vanguard guys, and the dialogue inside the cottage, and her leaving with them. All the running, jumping and silhouette karate stuff was done in woodland and a farmer’s field close to my parents house, about 50 miles from where the cottage was. At the cottage shoot we finished in the afternoon and the owner started getting drinks out, so we got pretty drunk. Then got the train back into London and carried on! The only trouble was, I had my massive film lights with me, and I had another shoot the next day. Not very professional!
In Bluebird 2020 part 1 we used wires for all the overhead lifts and powerslams that Rex did to her, just to try it out. This meant needing a spare costume because you had to put holes in it for some reason. It was fun to do, but it took ages, so we haven’t done it since. Bluebird loved it though.
In Bluebird 2020 part 2 the dialogue section was in an art gallery that we used because my landlady knew the owner, who happened to be a very pretty young woman, who also forgot that we were coming. I called my landlady who gave me her home address. We drove there while the actors got coffees, and this young lady answers the door rather brazenly in just her underwear. This turned a negative into a positive for me. She was gorgeous, not an actress though, sadly. Once we got into the gallery, we found that in the only room we could use, they had this bizarre installation all over the floor. It was like giant animal teeth stood up. We had to carefully walk around them so as not to move anything. We tried to keep them out of shot, but if you look at that scene again you’ll see some of it.
I’m sure there’s more from that series, but I think that’s enough for now.
Bluebird 2020 is still one of the best films in my opinion – just so ambitious in scope and giving room for character development – and showcasing an amazing actress too of course. Would you consider doing something like this again or was it too difficult/too expensive to go through again?
I would do something like that again if I had a strong rapport with an actress/character that I know sells well, and they are really enthusiastic to do it. Bluebird ticked all of those boxes. Anyone else I might have chosen would probably have gone along with it happily enough, but she was really keen. As for expense, I’d probably want some help up front, just to make it easier.
I’m certain you could even write a book about behind the scenes anecdotes like those! Would be a fascinating read for some surely! (Or you could even turn it into a manual in the style of “Filming SHIP videos for dummies)
I’d have enough material, but I think the interested market might be too small!
I think my favourite video was the Season 2 finale, with Miss Freedom and Celestia against James Roman and the Man in the Mask, a cameo from Erica, and most of the rest of the cast turning up at the end. Any stories from that one would be great.
Well the first thing that springs to mind about that one is that it almost didn’t happen! We had used that location several times by that point, but we always had to use it on a weekend when it was far less busy.
The problem with that is when we arrived at the place we had to get through the security guys. Of course, they couldn’t find the booking, despite the fact a dozen people have shown up with equipment etc… I was pissed off. Luckily they had the number of a woman who remembered me and picked up her phone at 8am on a Sunday. Honestly, if that had gone wrong I don’t know when or if it would ever have been made. Those finales were a nightmare to arrange.
As for the shoot, I remember that being okay. We had a separate space for anyone who wasn’t in the scene and they all had a ball! They were annoyed when I called upon them to come and film. Also, even though she wasn’t in the video, Bluebird came to the shoot just for fun, so I brought her costume and she’s in some of the photos despite having no role.
I always enjoy behind the scenes content, but being too specific without flooding you with questions is hard, so I will try to be more general ^^
I would like to know what usually happens behind the scenes when a change of costume happens. Some have been for story reasons like Miss Freedom, but sometimes there may be other reasons. I can imagine actress input or you wanting to be creative or catering to certain comments (or a costume just being put out of commission after damages).
And also would like to know which are your top 5 videos sales wise, just out of curiosity and statistics I think it’s fascinating to know which ones have resonated more with the audience and what lessons you took from them.
Anyway keep up your amazing work and thank you for your constant communication with us!
The reasons for costume changes might be because I envisioned the character differently, or I wanted to refresh their look, or I wasn’t happy with the one we were using. The actresses don’t have a whole lot of input. They might worry about how it looks before they see it, and sometimes once they’ve put it on, but mostly they don’t. They’re all fairly body confident, so there’s never too much outward concern about how it looks.
One of the more controversial costume changes was when I put Angel in a white costume after she had been in the famous grey/silver. That was a story decision because the silver/grey was meant to be an Elite Force training costume, and once she was no longer a trainee, she needed her own costume. However, you might remember the costume she wore in Season 1 Episode 5 where she saves Miss Freedom. I didn’t like the material or look of that one. The design was okay, but it didn’t come out right. Lot’s of people complained because they liked her silver/grey catsuit, so I think I went back to that until I got the satin white costume made which looked great in my opinion. I could honestly have not bothered and just left her in the catsuit because it was at least as popular as the new one, but I don’t do everything for commercial reasons. And yes, a lot of your favourite costumes, where people ask why we don’t use it anymore, are because it fell apart or got too worn out.
I’m not going to divulge my biggest selling top 5. That won’t do me any favours. Also, I don’t know it for certain. I know what number one is, and I know why it did well. I’m highly doubtful those records could be broken now however. In around 2013, and I’ve heard other producers say this, there was a big drop-off in the numbers of videos you sold of one thing. I don’t know what caused it. Some say piracy, some say market saturation, I don’t really know, but it never came back. This situation changed the project over the following years, from one where we’d put out a monthly video, to where we eventually put out weekly videos. We would not be able to survive on a monthly video now. We barely were then to be honest. The finale’s were effectively gifts to the audience because we knew they would lose money, and it is why we don’t make half hour videos with 9 actors in them anymore, because the loss would be even greater now.
As for what resonates with the audience. Well, I could take a short-term approach, and make something that is all about fan-service. But, the sales would soon normalise, and if I ever went back to making what I really enjoy which is a brutal and even fight scene, with good dialogue well-acted interspersed, then people would say “why are you doing this?”. I don’t want to get to that point. As much as possible I want each video to be interesting in its own right. Obviously, the general formula won’t deviate, but we need enough heroines that we aren’t seeing the same one very frequently (very hard during a pandemic), we need them doing something, or fighting someone they haven’t before. Obviously a Bluebird, or Miss Freedom, with whom we’ve made lot’s of videos, will become a bit repetitive, but that’s the fan service I mentioned.
I’ve said it before, but ultimately I have to make something that I’m interested in, at least half of the time. Or the project would quickly go off the rails.
Yeah, Angel’s first “official costume” is one of those quickly forgotten, because the replacement worked better in almost every sense, same with “Golden Goddess” Athena after her initial costume in episode 4 I think, you hit it out of the park with that one!
And it’s surprising to hear the peak was 2013 sales wise, seems the audience hasn’t grown or the mainstream started to cater to it some more, but certainly while we feel we are in a good place right now with many good producers, it also true they divide our attentiom and money nowdays.
And thanks for the insight! You certainly have nailed your own formula but always have a video come out of nowhere with a very fresh approach or concept, and that’s appreciated!
I don’t know what caused it. Things haven’t really changed since then, so it isn’t getting worse or anything, I just don’t know where all the buyers suddenly went. We still get new buyers every week too, so the whole picture is difficult to decode.
I was wondering about the shoots that surprised you most – obviously you write and direct the sequences (and have a role I would imagine in pretty much everything) but was there a shoot that just evolved into something different to how you imagined it once the actors got involved?
Sort of… I can’t think of anything that was unplanned. It was more like when we were trying a new style and seeing what worked and what didn’t. Bluebird’s ‘Hour of Defeat’ contains one of the first ‘crisis moment’ bits we ever did, and I thought the results of that were great. Similarly, Lucy Zillion may have been the first one ever in her fight with Delilah Crunch in ‘Painful Distraction’. Where at the beginning of the video she’s already beaten up and we eventually see why. That section probably got the best performance out of Lucy. More recently we had ‘A Place that Time Never Knew’ starring Virtue against Malicia. That video cuts into a big fight at different stages. Mainly shown by how much of her costume Virtue had lost. Obviously though, we filmed it in order, and really didn’t know if it would make sense or if people would understand it, but it turned out well.
Another would be Wonderstrike v Iron Drone, this was the first ‘Pure’ fight we ever did. This doesn’t mean much to viewers really, but it was an attempt to get a longer and better fight by using fewer takes and editing in the room. The main drawback being that each take had to really work or it was a false economy. Wonderstrike did a great job that day and we were pleased with the results, and though we’ve evolved that style a bit, it is fundamentally the reason why videos today are longer with better and longer fight sequences.
Shoots always turn out differently to how you imagined. The actors don’t say things the way you thought they would. The location makes it harder than you imagined to do a specific thing. The prop you bought for the story doesn’t look like it did on Amazon. There’s an idiot next door playing the drums. All of those kinds of things can mean you don’t have the time you wanted to shoot a specific thing. This is mostly just annoying.
I’m a big fan of the Villain Network releases. They can often be very off-the-wall and fun, and let you try something a little different. Where did the idea for those kind of videos come from, and did you see it as a bit of risk (and do you still see it as a risk?)
I think Tough Justice II may just be my favourite video. I watched it three time in a row the day I bought it. Everyone involved looks to be having so much fun, with Spectrum and Infinity Girl making a great comedy double-act.
Any behind-the-scenes stories for that one?
Well, the Villain Network as I remember came about as an idea just thinking about the large cohort of NGC fans who want the heroines to lose. Obviously, we’re a fairly broad church, we have people who are quite happy if they win as long as it is challenging, all the way through to people who want them to lose badly for the entirety of the video, and most people are somewhere in between. After a number of years you find that you’re making a certain kind of video most of the time. So really it was about making fun of ourselves, and a little bit the audience, where we’re saying that we’re all just villains it seems. Then I organised it in my head as a whole TV network that was devoted to just wrecking heroines for the fun of it.
Although it isn’t officially a VTV release, the first attempt at it was ‘Tough Justice’ starring Deceptress. I wrote it and directed it in a playful way, and gave her a bit of room to be comedic, and she really took to it. I was very happy with how that turned out and so decided to make a series of them, which we did. Most of the ideas were loosely based on TV shows that were on when I was a kid. ‘Tomorrow’s Villainy Today’ was based on an 80’s science show called ‘Tomorrow’s World’, where they would look at prototypes and cutting edge tech and try and work out how we’d be living by now, or in the next 5-10 years. So I just turned the gadgets they looked at into villainous weapons. The other one that was close was ‘This Is Your Heroism’ with Starshot. Maybe my favourite trailer we’ve ever done. This was based on ‘This Is Your Life’ (I don’t know if that was just a British show) where a guy shows up with a red book and surprises a famous person, then whisks them away to a TV studio where family members, old teachers and the like show up and surprise them even more. Obviously our version only had one guest and turned very violent, but that was the basic idea. Other ideas like ‘Image Rights’ were just from scratch. I saw an item on a daytime show about sex dolls, and the lady that ran the company was making a killing because nobody talks to one another anymore, so they spend 5 grand on a big rubber sex doll instead of a girlfriend. I thought to myself “what if you could get really sophisticated robots or clones of famous people or heroines?”. All just as a laugh really, and Lady Victory was perfect because she was such an earnest and good character who accidentally signs away the rights to her image so anyone can exploit it. I suppose it’s somewhere between sex dolls and deepfakes. I thought the character would be furious and mortified by the prospect, and it didn’t matter how strong she was, she signed a contract!
Anyway, lot’s of silly ideas. I just remember the ‘Tough Justice II’ shoot being fun really. Both girls were completely into the silliness of it, just like ‘Mighty Heroines of Destiny’, that was great too because it was more reliant on dialogue than action. We weren’t worried about the length of the video, so we could concentrate on getting things sharper in the acting performance.
I wasn’t worried too much about the risk. It was a risk, and if it hadn’t sold at all then I’d have had to back out of it early on. We only put out about 3 or 4 VTV’s a year, and that’s about right. If it were more then I think the novelty of seeing a heroine in a silly situation would wear off and they probably wouldn’t do so well. I’d also need to come up with original ideas far more often, which would probably make me resent it!
I was actually of the idea that Tough Justice with Erica was actually a VTV video! But I stand corrected now.
Seems logical it was the starting point for the serie
No, pre-VTV officially.
This is a great idea, and your responses have been fantastic to read. Despite buying videos since the beginning of Season 1 I’ve never commented on the blog, but I’m excited to do so for this topic!
I’ve shot many customs with you over the years, and I’m curious if there were any memorable incidents or fun stories from any of them: Season 3 SM 8 and 9 with Angel, VTV The Bluebird Show, Shadowstar vs. the Sleeper, KO Fever with Red Glory, Alaric vs. Deja Vu, Athena Heal or Harm etc… loved every single one of them. Anything interesting from these?
From my side, one thing I’ve always felt is some level of second-hand embarrassment thinking about asking such an experienced film crew and actors/actresses to film fanservice-heavy content. I know you are all professionals, but for example it is a little amusing picturing you on set explaining to one of these amazing actresses like Bluebird “OK, and now in the script outline you’re KO’ed for the 6th time…”, haha. I wonder if there’s any level of amusement every now and then about the type of content we request to film from your crew or the actors/actresses themselves?
All that aside, thank you again for continuing to produce such consistently high quality content over the years. It has always been a joy to work with you. Very much looking forward to the new talent and upcoming work in 2022 – DZ!
Well I’m glad I’ve been able to get a comment out of you for this!
Let me see… Season 3 SM 8 & 9… As I recall, we hadn’t shot with Angel in over a year when we did these, I think after this we shot a couple of Championship videos and that was it. She was one of those people who would change her phone number quite frequently (I didn’t ask!), so even though I wanted to see her more often, I’d have to find a different way of getting her attention. The success of her early videos really kept us afloat, so she deserves a spot in our Hall of Fame for sure. Anyway, on this occasion she came on set with shorter hair and a neck tattoo. Whenever this happens there is nothing you can do about it so I just shrug and carry on. Caking her neck in make-up would be pointless because in all the fighting it would just rub off in half an hour, probably on her white costume. She usually needed a few takes to warm up after so much time off, but I liked her. She enjoyed it too because she didn’t need the money, she was at that time working as a Playboy Bunny at the Casino in Mayfair (very posh bit of London). Her tips were outstanding she told me. At one stage I simultaneously had a heroine who was a Playboy Bunny, and a villainess (who I will not name) who protested outside the Playboy Club when it opened. Eclectic.
‘The Bluebird Show’ was cool to do, but we were just under the gun timewise because she had flown in from Australia and there was so much we wanted to do. I’d probably answer in more detail if you’d asked for fewer. ‘Shadowstar v The Sleeper’ was pretty easy. One of the issues using her was her agent would continuously raise the price “Oh she’s about to be a big star, her stock is way higher than last time”. This resulted in her doing way fewer shoots (and earning less money) than I’d have been able to give her. Short-termist stuff. The shoot was not too hard though because she mostly passes out in that one, which isn’t as physically demanding as a big fight. ‘KO Fever’ was maybe the second shoot we did with Red Glory. I just remember how good she was at passing out. I really didn’t need to direct her much at all in that one, she pulled all the right faces. A bit of a weird location, we used it a couple of times but we were in a bit of difficulty with affordable locations at that time. ‘Alaric v Deja Vu’ in the ring… piece of cake. Both of them absolutely grade A fighters. She was/is a Jujitsu instructor, who oddly enough went to University with my brother 5 years earlier. Total coincidence. They could do anything you wanted in one take. I’d have loved to make more with her, but she just wasn’t that interested. No hard feelings or anything. ‘Athena Heal or Harm’ – OK, well the funniest thing about that shoot is that her mother was there! So we filmed all of that with her mother watching, who seemed like a very nice lady by the way. I don’t remember why that happened, but I couldn’t exactly refuse! Not the last time I filmed with a mother on set either.
As you know, having been through the customs process with us, we don’t make very many. If we decide to do one, then it is because we know that the actors will be okay with it, because if I get a really strange idea then I don’t relish trying to film it, and frankly, we only charge filming costs for our customs, so it’s not like I can bribe them with way more money. The custom content will also depend on who it is happening to. We tend not to make the heavier fan-service stuff with a brand new actress. Partly because we don’t know her well enough to know what she’s comfortable with, and also her skill level for what we do. An audition for 20 minutes really isn’t enough. If we’re on shoot #8 with an actress, then we’ve spent 100 hours with her on set, and we know her, and then we can ask, and if she doesn’t want to do it then it doesn’t happen, as simple as that. They are predominantly amused by the stranger requests. I don’t like filming with uptight people, so if we make the mistake of casting someone like that, you’ll only see them once.
Dr Mabuse says:
I have to say thank you to DZ here, turns out a few of those are favorites of mine (Shadowstar/Sleeper, KO Fever, Alaric/Deja Vu).
Dr G says:
Is your NGC style influenced by any TV shows or movies such as the TV Avengers with John Steed and Emma Peel ? Thanks !
Not quite so directly, because in those days Emma would perform a hip-toss on a bad guy and he’d be dealt with, so on the fighting side not so much. Although sometimes when we’re tying another heroine to a chair we remind her that; “…if it’s good enough for Diana Rigg, then it’s good enough for us!”
I’d say that bigger influence comes from movies, and trying to expand on the action side. The Christopher Reeve Superman movies influence the colour palette and costumes to an extent, the way the villains behave. The fighting is more an extension of fights from films that are far too short. For example, I was very taken with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in ‘Iron Man II’, she has some cool moves in it, but it lasts all of 20 seconds. Obviously in a Hollywood movie they can’t spend 15-20 minutes on one fight scene, so I thought I would instead. Another example is the fight Diane Lane’s character is having with a female villain in ‘Judge Dredd’ (the 90’s Stallone version). It had the makings of something really cool, but lasted again about 20 seconds, so that one stuck with me. I wanted more of it, so I decided to make it.
Really enjoying reading this. Do you ever show your new actresses a specific film of yours (or perhaps a scene from a tv show or hollywood film) before their first shoot, which to you is the best example of what you want them to achieve? If so what is it and why?
Also more stories from Athena shoots please! Cant help but feel quite sorry for the actor who had to beat her up in front of her mum on camera. That must have been…odd.
No I don’t think I’ve shown anyone a video. I might refer to a well known scene from a film to give them an idea. Hopefully they’ve seen it.
As I remember her mum was just very happy and friendly. The thing about it is the shoot doesn’t have quite the same vibe as the finished video. All the punches miss in person and there’s breaks between takes where people aren’t in character, so not too scary!
Dr Mabuse says:
Guido84 saved me a question; I was curious about the “Image Rights” video. It was so interesting and different. That and some of the BTS footage raised my opinion of Lady Victory (which was already high) quite a bit. I also love VTV and the Transform series. I figure one inspiration for Transform is that seeing a heroine change into her costume is a “thing” in our community, but it also opens up plot possibilities for undercover assignments and the like. Again, probably not enough ideas for 20 videos a year, but one every few months or so is cool. Are there any other inspirations behind the Transform series?
I have to admit, in my NGC library (yes, I have a library) I keep “Black Market” with the Transform series even though I think it preceded it. I also keep “Tough Justice” in the VTV folder, a choice that made more sense after “TJ2” was released as a VTV video.
On the subject of wardrobe changes, I’m also curious about the Eliza Rose “Personal Hell” series. That was one of my favorites. I think the initial one with Athena is my favorite video of hers. Are there any interesting stories from those costume switch videos?
I think that the inspirations for the ‘Transform’ series are pretty well known, because as you say, it is a thing in superhero stuff. I didn’t do it for a long time because my concern was that people really loved them in costume, and might feel a bit cheated if they aren’t in costume all of the time. But actually there is a nice balance there to be struck. I think the first time we did it was Season 2 Episode 1, where Bluebird was scoping out some bad guys in civilian gear and then ripped her shirt open. We bought 3 white shirts for that shot and I think we got it on the second go.
I think the build up to doing more of those was just enjoying the contrast between civilian clothes, and glasses, hair up, versus costume, no glasses, hair down. An example I loved of this was Bluebird again in 2020 part 2, where she gets ambushed by Rex and beaten up in civilian gear. He rips her shirt open and takes her glasses off, before she smacks him to the floor and finishes the job. I really liked that sequence.
Another catalyst was a photo shoot we did with Wonderstrike and Spectrum fighting in I suppose ‘club wear’, not really stuff you’d wear on the street. It was a risk to make and release because there were no heroine costumes involved, but it did okay and people were keen to see either character fight in that stuff, which we managed to do. I really like the Transform series.
We do like a costume switch video, and certainly a photo set. Mostly out of curiosity, and partially out of necessity when it comes to photos. If you’ve booked someone for 5-6 hours for a photo shoot, then you want to shoot a lot of stuff because photo sets are much cheaper than videos and don’t sell as well either. There’s only so many sets in the location you can do in one costume before it is stale, so this is the perfect opportunity to try an actress in a different costume, and some of those turn out brilliantly. There’s often a regret that we never shot someone in a video in a different costume, but it mostly doesn’t make any story sense at all to do it, so photos are the next best thing. My main recollection of the Eliza v Athena, was how good Athena looked in blue! And I was like, man, we shoot her more in this! Of course, in those early years we didn’t have the money to shoot as frequently. One video release would pay for the next shoot and so on. It’s a pity because there would be way more Athena and Angel and other videos if we’d not been essentially skint.
Dr Mabuse says:
I’d forgotten about the Bluebird 2020 example, that was a really good one. I don’t dislike the flash/spin transformations, but I really do love the “costume reveal” like that one and the one with Miss Freedom in the recent “Out Cold” video. One of the reasons the Athena/Eliza video is among my favorites of hers is precisely what you say: she looks spectacular in that blue costume!
Regardless, I’ve always loved the costume switches and am glad it’s become a more common feature. I’m very excited for future appearances of Alias. It’s great of you to offer these stories and insights, good to see I’m not alone in my curiosity about the thought that goes into these videos and “how the sausage is made” so to speak. I also have more questions, but think I’ll save them in the event you ever make the mistake of doing this again.
A Nanny Moose says:
Has there ever been a time where the limitations of a prop, environment, etc.. has resulted in not being able to do a shot or episode the way you first imagined it?
A prop weapon that isn’t as sturdy as expected and it changes the fight choreography, a filming location with lighting that restricts filming from certain angles, cramped shooting locations, etc…
Basically the times things haven’t gone to plan and so the plan had to change. The most interesting stories from times that that has happened.
I’d say pretty much every shoot that ever happened. I’m not even joking. On the more benign shoots we might be able to shoot pretty much what we’d intended, but can still come away annoyed that we didn’t have all the time we wanted for something specific.
Prop weapons can be a bit hit and miss, we’ve had the odd thing where a plastic gun is kicked out of someone’s hand and just smashes like glass on the floor. Either that or they don’t look great when actually being used so we write them out.
The main problem by far however is sound. When you need the world to be quiet, you really notice how obnoxiously loud people are. Someone within a 500 yard radius is always using heavy machinery. Whoever is in the studio next door is stomping around or talking loudly on the phone. This is a constant problem. Entirely sound proof studios sort of have a specific look as well, where you can’t really dry hire them because they look blatantly like film studios. We used to have a massive problem where we filmed on a Sunday on an industrial estate or business park, and the units next to us would fill up with ‘Churches’. These were basically congregations who didn’t have a church to go to, bizarrely, because there are so many churches in London that are near empty on a Sunday. However, you find out why they aren’t normal when you listen to what they’re saying, but that’s another story! So these people would be singing and yelling, not from say 10am until noon, which is how I remembered church, but 10am until 5pm. An absolute nightmare. Trains are another issue in venues in railway arches. We’re used to this and know we’re going to get it in certain places, but the amount of times I say “Action” and there is immediately a train would amaze you, it’s as if that word conjures a train from thin air. People hitting things with hammers, and you have to tell a man with a hammer in his hand to stop. I can go on and on.
Plans change in videos most of all when actors pull out the morning of or the night before, this might be illness, a job that pays 10 times what I do, things like that. Then you have to make something broadly from scratch. This doesn’t happen too much though.
My English is not good, I started from the early white uniform angels, and later Celestia, PowerStart, Virtue, Comet Girl, The Equalizer, and now Alias. All the heroines in white boots are my favorite. Great, especially the white boots of Virtue! Thank them for their contributions to fans! The flat white boots are perfect! ! NGC, have you considered changing their pantyhose to white or gray? Maybe there will be unexpected results! Thank you NGC
Thank you for your support! I’m pleased you are enjoying it. No, I’ve not thought of that and I don’t think I’d do it en masse so all characters had white tights. An individual character maybe, but I’m more likely to just have them wear a white or grey catsuit instead.
Thanks for ding this Q&A. My favourite episode was season 4 episode 4. I really thought you were going to kill off Virtue in that! Do you have any stories from that episode?
In that episode we knew we were going to keep working with her, so she wasn’t worried about getting killed off! The costume that features in that video was on its last legs. I was getting a new one made simply because she would need a new one soon anyway. White is of course perfect for getting dirty, and we had the character ‘Filth’ at the time, so everything fitted. My recollection is we shot half the video, all the clean bits before lunch, we took all the photos for the accompanying photo set, where she is clean (apart from the shots at the end of the set shot at the end of the day). We got her to take the costume off and then while she was having lunch we just messed it up, I think primarily with black face paint. We didn’t know how good it would look, other than we’d done something similar over a much smaller section of costume with Celestia a couple of months earlier in ‘The Trial’. It worked out okay, she looked dirty anyway, and we shot all the dirty parts in the afternoon.
Dr G says:
The superheroines of NGC have bright costumes that look expensive. Most of the villains (especially the male ones ) have plain/non flashy costumes. Was this done on purpose to make a bigger contrast between the superheroines to make the superheroines look even better than they do or is it also a budget thing where the costume money is best spent on the superheroines while most fans don’t really care what the villains (especially the male ones) wear. Thanks !
We try and get more interesting stuff for the female villains, the guys just really need to be rough and ready. If there is an interesting item I’ll get it, usually an overcoat of some kind. It’s budget too. The heroine costumes are expensive, and sell the film. While a cool villain costume wouldn’t do any harm, it won’t really make the video more successful.
It also has to be functional. I imagine you are probably aware of famous cosplayers and the intricate costumes that they make. Well, great for stills, but as soon as you try fighting in that kind of stuff bits will fall off or fly off immediately. Parts will be uncomfortable too, or at the very least impair movement. A lot of the costumes worn in movies by superheroes in recent decades are impractical, they honestly can’t move properly, so they’ll have a cool costume for standing around in, and then a costume with all kinds of modifications for movement that wouldn’t look so great if keeping still. We need both, and we also need to be faithful to a style of costume that viewers like, and we like too. There will be no heroines in black leather overcoats here.
Dr G says:
Good point ! I forgot about the functional part of the costumes. Most cosplayers don’t have to do fight scenes ( I hope ) 🙂