When you need a riot police helmet tomorrow for less than £70, London is not necessarily the place to be. The day before our photo shoot this was the predicament in which we found ourselves: calling costume houses, police supply stores, and scouring the Internet for something cheap and believable that we could pick up in an hour. Luckily, our hard work paid off when we honed in on what seemed to be the sole riot police helmet in all of London, at—you guessed it—a hipster clothing boutique in Soho.
This helmet, navy blue with bright yellow lettering that read ‘PEACE’ instead of ‘POLICE’, certainly made quite the statement, and maybe it would have been a great conversation piece on the dinner table in a wealthy 20-something’s flat. Today, however, we needed reality and not idle conversation. A quick coat of black spray paint fixed that and once again we were able to leave behind trendy London for the harsh post-riot landscape of Kiev, Ukraine.
Fast forward to the shoot itself. In the middle of an East London junkyard, left to our own devices by its owner, we were given complete freedom to do as we saw fit. I got to meet some of the cast from ‘The Point of No Return’ and after they were roughed up a bit, everyone was ready. Creating smoke, piling tyres and pieces of sheet metal on top of each other, and throwing realistic (but, I promise, fake) molotov cocktails through the air, we started to get a feel for what this revolutionary life might be like.
Aside from resulting in some spectacular photos, the shoot served as a sort of outdoor, experiential and experimental first encounter with our subject matter. In many ways, I think the setting helped us all feel the reality of the story a little more intuitively, and at the end of the day one of the actors, Charlotte, said ‘I’d imagine that even the waiting around is something that protesters would be dealing with. A lot of preparation for not a lot of action.’ I think she was right to see character inspiration in even the most mundane part of the day and this kind of insight is going to keep pushing ‘The Point of No Return’ in a promising direction. And after a day where a lot of moving parts came together flawlessly, I’m excited to see what this amazing team can accomplish together over the next couple months.
I’d say the revolution here in London is coming along quite nicely.