The Making of Beehive ~ Part 4: Production Design

Once upon a time I used to want to do everything. Then I learnt that it’s better if I didn’t.

Broken EmbracesI had a grand vision for Beehive; a short film that I had written and was planning to make within the next 2 months.
I was strongly under the influence of European cinema including strong stylistic films such as Xavier Dolans ‘Les Amours Imaginaires’ (Heartbeats) 2010, Jean-Luc Godards ‘A bout de Souffle’ (Breathless) 1960 and Pedro Almodovars films namely “Broken Embraces’ 2009 starring Penelope Cruz.
I wanted bold colours and shapes, a grittiness yet glamour. My vision for Beehive became bigger and bigger and I realised I needed someone incredible to come on board as Production Designer.
(See my previous post about forming the team for Beehive).

Finding a Production Designer

Diva AbrahamianSo Chloe Lawrence-Hartcher, the producer, contacted Diva Abrahamian, a production designer that I had worked with previously on award-winning web series ‘In Transit‘, The ‘Wear it Purple’ Promo and Sydney band Glass Towers’ music video ‘Tonight’. I knew she had an amazing eye for detail but was also incredibly resourceful and creative which was very useful when it came to my high concept low-budget film.

The first step was for Diva and director Alastair Wharton to meet up and discuss the film and various ideas that we had. Diva then went away, read the script, looked at the storyboards and came back with a pitch for the design and her understanding of what we wanted and how she thought she could make that happen.

Transforming a bedroom by Diva Abrahamian

We didn’t exactly make Divas job easy. Not only did we have a character that was heavily influenced by the 1960s style but she also had to turn a boys bedroom into an extremely girly bedroom, a bedroom into a lounge room and help us manoeuvre around a vintage store filled with insanely expensive antiques and vintage wares not to mention create looks for 10 characters. (Meet the full cast here)

It was a big job for one person so we started to form a team for her.

The Art Department

Olivera JovanoskaWe’d had some interest from Olivera Jovanoska who worked as a stylist and was keen to help out in the costume department for Beehive.
Diva and Oli met to discuss the look and styles of each of the characters. It was then Oliveras job to go and source all the costumes within a very small budget. This left Diva to find all the props and set dressings for each of the locations.

Production Design by Ehran EdwardsBy this time I had created a production design book. This was predominantly to serve as an overview of the project as a whole. It covered the characters, the visual style in regards to lighting as well as production design. This incorporated the ideas that had been discussed and was used to showcase the ideas that the team had so we had something to show people as they came on board the production.

References for Penny by Diva AbrahamianDiva brought on Nick Plummer to oversee the hair and make-up department. Nick worked alongside Aidan Hirn, doing make-up for the cast, as well as Samara Gildea who had the very important job of creating Pennys beehives. (See the rest of the Beehive team here)

Along with the production design notes Diva supplied the Hair and Makeup team with an overview of her vision for the characters and left it in their trusty hands to realise the various looks that she was after.

We then had a team meeting/ dress rehearsal. A few weeks had passed now and we were only a few weeks away from shooting.
Diva and Oli worked with the cast to discuss costumes. Oli had spoken to all of the actors to see if they had any items of their own which may be suitable (a good idea to try when making a film on a shoe-string budget) and so inspected what they had brought. She then created a list of what items she still needed.

Beehive dress rehearsalAimee-Lee Druett (Penny) was the most time-consuming as we had to create so many different looks for her. To save time Oli had done some prep a few days earlier by getting a model to showcase a number of outfit options. She sent these photos to through for Alastair and I to look over. This way Aimee-lee didn’t have to try on EVERYTHING. We brought in a pile of our favourite vintage 60’s mod dresses and she tried one on after the other until we had all out looks. Aimee-lee was then whisked into the hands of Nick, Aidan and Samara for a hair and make-up test.

Diva and Oli making a handbag for Penny on setIn the lead up to the shoot Oli was running around like mad finding bargains to finish off the outfits for the characters. Diva was inspecting every thrift shop and second-hand store to find bits and pieces to help her dress the various sets and create the props we needed.

Diva was incredibly resourceful making many of the outstanding items you see in the film from odds and ends, dressing them up to look more vintage. I was so impressed. If she wasn’t moving a lamp or hanging a picture she was gluing or sewing something else.

Overall the team did an amazing job. They worked well together and I couldn’t be happier with the finished product.
Stay tuned for more ‘Making of Beehive’.

The hair and makeup team on set Beehive. Photo by Stephen Godfrey

Ehran EdwardsIf you liked this post please ‘LIKE’ my Facebook page and ‘FOLLOW’ my blog. I keep them up to date with; projects I’m involved in, reviews & tutorials and share interesting tid-bits to make you smile.

“With my head in the stars, a twinkle in my eye and a love for cinema and nostalgia, filmmaking is a fun, creative way to express myself.”


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