Almost a month ago, I posted this tweet:
I was tired, I was frustrated and I was about to give up. I was so excited about the concept for the Winter Things cover, I was trying my darndest to get the project off the ground and no one would help me. Well, that’s not exactly true. No one was willing to help me for free.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I definitely belong to the school of thought that artists deserve to be paid for their work. Heck, I am hoping some of you decide Winter Things is worth paying a few bucks for. But I am so tired of money holding me back from creativity. As a starving college student and a starving artist, it is often hard to pay for food, much less pay people to help me out on passion projects. Now this is not a specific diss to those I asked to help me on this project. I am so proud that I have friends who are so established in their field that they can charge consistently for their services. It is just generally difficult to find people who are willing to help you out simply for the love of the art, mutual excitement over your idea and a desire to bring your vision to life.
Just as I was beginning to give up on the prospect of an original cover and bracing myself to go through stock images, I found my team, the very people I wished for in the tweet.
After being turned down by multiple photographer friends, I came to the realization that I needed to find someone who was good at photography, but wasn’t a “photographer.” That’s when my dear friend Rachel David came to mind. I had just finished working with her as the director on the school film I co-produced, which had placed us in a professional working relationship for the better part of eight months. It also convinced me that she was someone I wanted to continue working with. Still, when I reached out, I fully expected her to turn me down.
There’s something that happens to your sense of hope when you’ve been rejected so many times. You start to believe all you’ll ever hear is no. Or maybe that’s just me. Anyway, Rachel pretty much said yes right away, which was amazing. I knew she was the right person for the job, though, when I sent her the Pinterest board I made and only to found out she had already made one! Hers lined up with my vision exactly, even though I had only sent her a few key words.
Despite successfully convincing Rachel to join the project, I was still convinced there was no way it was actually going to happen. If it was this hard to find one of my friends willing to help me out for free, how the heck was I going to find a male model? Did I mention I know zero male models, which guaranteed somehow talking a stranger into doing this for free. Enter Andrew Bliek.
I had been watching Andrew’s performance as the male lead in my classmates’ film “Hazel” all semester and been impressed by it, so when I found out he also modeled and also went to my school, he was my natural choice first. I put off contacting him until Rachel said yes, then sent him an email basically just saying that I’d been impressed by his work in “Hazel” and wanted to know if he would be interested in modeling for a passion project of mine I thought he would be a good fit for, but couldn’t pay him for. When I got the email back a few days later and I put off reading it, convinced it was going to be a no. When I finally mustered the courage to open it, I found instead a simple reply thanking me for my kind words and offering his availability.
Despite finding such an amazing team, I was scared up to the last moment that things were going to fall apart. Seriously! I sat next to my phone all day before the shoot until everyone showed up at the location, waiting for the text from either him or Rachel canceling on me. I may or may not have had several bad experiences in the past of people pulling out on projects, especially unpaid ones. Imagine my surprise when the shoot went off without a hitch! It was an amazing work experience, the type where the actual experience left me so happy and artistically fulfilled that I almost didn’t care about the final product…. Almost.
The final images that Rachel was able to capture were so magical and exactly what I wanted. Also, Andrew was the best fake boyfriend I could have asked for. He kept me laughing the whole time as we had the most ridiculous conversations about the most random things. It was so much fun! I can’t wait for you all to see the final cover.
Rachel, I am so sorry sorry for not realizing right away that you were the perfect person for this project. Thank you for making me feel so comfortable and allowing me all the creative control I wanted (although you have great instincts!). Andrew, thank you for trusting me enough to say yes and for making a potentially awkward situation so much fun. Hope to work with you both in the future!
One more shot form the shoot to demonstrate that we clearly had no fun…
Stay tuned for the final cover reveal soon!