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How Did You Come Up With That?! - E02 - "How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love ThE Bog"

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

Hi Friends and welcome back to a new episode of 'How Did You Come Up With That!?' - a series were we show you the inspiration and walk you through the art direction on one of our shoots. E02 - How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bog’?

(The pictures we took are at the bottom of the page.)

We like to use films as inspiration and, boy, do we have an incredible, beautiful, melancholy, confronting, thought-provoking one for you today.

A few months ago we watched one of those movies that impact your life forever. It's called They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969), based on the 1934 novel by Horace McCoy.

A quick synopsis from IMDB: "In the midst of the Great Depression, manipulative emcee Rocky (Gig Young) enlists contestants for a dance marathon offering a $1,500 cash prize. Among them are a failed actress (Jane Fonda), a middle-aged sailor (Red Buttons), a delusional blonde (Susannah York) and a pregnant girl (Bonnie Bedelia). Days turn into weeks as the competition drags on and people either drop out or expire. Rocky, however, will do anything for publicity and initiates a series of gruelling derbies."

The film was incredibly moving, beautiful, artful, and frankly unbelievable - a dance contest where the contestants don't stop dancing for weeks? That couldn't have really happened, could it?

But it did happen. I looked it up and everything.

These strange, sadistic entertainments were a real thing during the Great Depression, all across the U.S.

Many contestants would even sign up not to try to win the competition necessarily, but just to have meals and shelter, if only for a couple of days or weeks.

It is a great movie, and as your attorney I advise you to watch it.

So - on to our triptych. Strangely enough, the seed of the idea came from Alex wanting to put our disco ball to use. We bought it for a shoot last year but didn't end up using it. He had the idea of doing a triptych where the disco ball would be in the centre panel, and we would be on either side of it. And... And... And, well, something else, too...

A good starting point. But the idea didn't have enough layers yet. It was insubstantial. It wasn't... meaty enough.

My thoughts exactly, Clara.

Alex's mind turned sluggishly over, his synapses firing like a mistimed engine. He stared blankly at a wall. He stared blankly at a doorknob. He stared blankly.

Finally he said, "Do you remember 'They Shoot Horses, Don't They'?"

I said, "Yes, I do."

He stared blankly again, his gaze coming to rest now on a stained coffee mug. Then - at last - movement.

He went to the computer, impressively displaying an expansive, long-strided gait. He Googled the film, looking for stills, and hit upon the poster to your left.

Just look at that. A great big disco ball.

He said, "I thought there was a disco ball in that dance hall... I have an idea..."

So - perhaps a dance contest.

At this time, Sydney had just gone into lock-down again. It was surreal. Almost a year and a half after the pandemic hit, and Australia seemed to have made it through relatively well, we naively thought we would never have to wear masks again to leave the house. But here we all were, again, wearing masks, unable to see family and friends, and of course seeing again the panic-buying of toilet paper and the resulting shortage (albeit a briefer shortage this time around than the initial panic-buying over a year ago, thankfully) that had left us disenchanted with our fellow man, and frustrated that going to the toilet had become an anxiety-inducing exercise in frugality.

We wanted to make fun of these strange, greedy little ducklings, they who filled their shopping carts to the brim with toilet paper; they who did bloody battle in the aisles, clinging to a 24-pack like a shipwrecked sailor to a broken bit of door.

In our dance contest, the prize would be toilet paper, and one character will have managed to win all of it, leaving none for the other, to his despair and fury. She just won't spare a square. So, as a citizen of this enlightened social media age, he pulls a gun.

In They Shoot Horses, Don't They? the dancing couples got sponsored by different companies. Gloria Beatty and Robert Syverton, the protagonists, get sponsored by Jonathon's Iron Tonic and wear jumpers with JONATHON'S IRON TONIC emblazoned on them. We thought this could be a nice little touch, and we decided for our characters to be sponsored by a toilet paper company, finally settling on MOONLITE TOILET TISSUE after tossing several names back and forth. The spelling of "moonlite" had a vaguely 1970s-ish Americanness to it, and "moon", as in bare buttocks, was funny, we thought, without being too crass.

For the background we used a sparkling, tacky blue backdrop that we had used about a year ago for our Carrie prom scene Halloween homage. It fit the disco setting. Then a natural progression was to use toilet paper as party streamers. We are fools for doing anything we can in-camera - for this shoot we used a 4-point star filter to give that funky Saturday Night Fever sparkle and a 1/4 pro-mist filter to soften the digital image.

Alex's hair, with a chunk shaved out of it, wasn't planned that way. Our intent was to give him a trim, maybe shape it a little.

But I had to do it and, well, I am not a hairdresser. The long and short of it is, he ended up with a genuine Lockdown Girlfriend Haircut. Looking at this thing in the mirror, we couldn't help but laugh - and, in the end, it seemed fitting. Then, with little warning, Alex shaved a bald strip into the side of his head to underline the point.

We didn't shoot this as one big set up but three smaller sets, changing the set between each image - something we would change if we were to do it again, to lessen the photoshop post-production. Overall, we were happy to be back shooting some personal work.

Alex has taken over our behind-the-scenes content. You can watch the BTS video of this shoot on our Instagram page:

(It's totally nurkin'.)

We post a new blog weekly and you can keep updated by following us @threebentlegs as I'm usually promoting our blogs and work over there.

See you in our next one!

'How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bog’ August 2021

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