Who doesn’t love a tea party with oodles of pastries? This idea, a pretty little dream in my head, has been a year in the making. What started out conceptually as a photoshoot of a woman in pearls and a silk robe, sipping on tea, and noshing on éclairs and macarons all by her lonesome (and loving it), turned into a film shoot that truly captured the feeling I was after.
As any introvert can tell you, hanging out with yourself ain’t so bad. Hell, it can be downright awesome—ask our lady of leisure who clearly loves her alone time as much as she loves herself. In a year when we’ve been isolated from friends and family, having a bit of fun with a party of one can be pretty amazing.
This film is the second in a series titled “A Woman” and takes a lighter, more whimsical approach than the first film Smokescreen. But just like the other piece, it celebrates womanhood and all the layers of our personalities (even the flaky ones smothered in cream and powdered sugar).
In order to get the look I was after, I opted for a pre-fabricated set vs. doing a set build. Not only was it cost effective, it saved a lot of time. Mint Room Studios had the perfect space: the Library had the ornate details and mouldings—including a fireplace!—that I was after, but it was painted all black. I had envisioned a space that was all white; yet one look at this set and I knew it would take the concept to another level. It had that Alice In Wonderland/Mad Hatter vibe: moody and mysterious but still charming. The dark set made the golden light that much more spectacular and the colours, from seating to flowers to pastries, just popped against the dark background.
Speaking of lighting, I described the look to my DP, Dave Woodside, as a summer afternoon but amplified. My crew did a fantastic job pushing the light in and hitting the key areas—seating, table, talent—with enough illumination to separate from the background, while also adding dappled light to help create the illusion of tree branches outside a window.
The colour palette was created at conception before a single storyboard was sketched out, which I find very helpful. It guided everything—wardrobe, props, food, set design, hair/makeup. Every element felt purposeful and connected. We procured the pastries from two patisseries in Toronto: Nadège and Nugateau. Needless to say, they were a hit with the crew once we wrapped!
I absolutely loved working with my crew on this shoot. Total pros who handled a heavy shot list with ease and with fantastic attitudes. I’d worked with Dave on a previous job for Pepperidge Farm, as well as his 1st AC Roshan, so it was really great to work with them again. Our gaffer, Alex, and G&E Swing, Christian (who also graciously took all these awesome bts shots), rounded out my crew.
Stylists Nicole, Sarah and Kristyn were back on board, having worked on the previous film with me, and effortlessly knew what to do. It makes a big difference when everyone brings their A game to a shoot. No egos, no drama, just everyone doing their thing and killing it! And it’s not just me. The entire team felt it. And that’s a pretty rad feeling. 🙂
Music was a big component of this film, adding both the right vibe and the narrative through its lyrics. I fell in love with this song a couple of months ago and immediately knew it would be perfect for this film. Editing was done in-house by me and my brother, Harp, who also was assistant producer on this shoot. So thrilled and grateful for how this film turned out. Check it out below!
Written, Directed and Produced by Deepi Ahluwalia
Assistant Producer: Harp Ghoman
Director of Photography: Dave Woodside
Edited by Deepi Ahluwalia & Harp Ghoman
Talent: Samantha Wiesner
1st AC: Roshan Hamid
Gaffer: Alex Poutiainen
G&E Swing: Christian Smith
Food and Prop Stylist: Nicole Billark
Hair/Makeup: Sarah Zap
Wardrobe: Kristyn Matthews
Song: “Fresh” written and performed by Cass XQ
Shot on RED Gemini at Mint Room Studios in Toronto, Canada
All behind-the-scenes images by Christian Smith.