Catching Fire – District 12 Set Diary – Part I

As Mockingjay Part 2 premieres in theaters, it brings an end to the era of The Hunger Games films. I had the great privilege of being able to work on Catching Fire, Mockingjay Part I, and Part II as a core background extra (meaning that I was there for many months of filming. Some crew joked that we were there more than the actors!). While most behind-the-scenes videos and commentary are understandably focused on the main cast and heads of crew departments, I thought I’d lend my voice to the little people – the professional blurs in the background. So without further adieu, here’s a background extra’s look at the behind-the-scenes of Catching Fire. Enjoy!

It was a brisk Saturday morning in October 2012. At 3:30am, I rolled off the air mattress on my friend’s floor to pack my bag and head out for my first day ever as an extra on a film set. (What a set to start on, right? I couldn’t start on a small film to get my feet wet. Oh no, as per usual, I had to go for the gusto!) I had no idea what to expect, but I packed my little bag with a book and some light snacks and headed off to set.

Upon arrival, I got my first lesson in the game that extras know how to play best – waiting in line. Waiting in line to check in. Waiting in line to drop off cellphones. Waiting in line for wardrobe. Waiting in line for hair and makeup. (Though I’ve now come to enjoy waiting in line at extra gigs as there usually at one engrossing conversation going on Or the amusing antics of punch-drunk-sleepy extras at the bum-crack of dawn).

Briana Lamb District 12

Photo courtesy of Continuity

I was cast as one of the many thin, plain looking District 12 extras (between this and The Walking Dead, I fear I’m getting typecast. Hehe). I changed into my costume and shuffled into the back of the makeup line. After an hour of doing my best not to complain about the nippy cold outside (a stamping of feet still happened despite best efforts), I was ushered inside the (slightly) warmer tent. I found that I was one of the last of a few hundred extras to plop down in the makeup chair. I had just settled in when an exasperated Production Assistant came running in, “The extras aren’t dirty enough! They’re getting to set and the director says they’re just not dirty enough. This is a coal mining town. Get that dirt in their pores!”  And get the dirt in my pores they did…

Only about 7 shades darker than my usual pale as snow.

Only about 7 shades darker than my usual pale as snow.

By the end of the three days of filming of those scenes, I garnered the reputation for being the dirtiest extra on set (that stuff was fun to wash off, lemme tell ya. Took almost a week to get the dirt out from under my fingernails). This ended up working in my favour though as because I was so dirty, the Assistant Director wanted me up front to better represent the look of the district. Funny how that works, eh?

After makeup came hair. One of my favourite parts of the daily lineup. (I’m the gal that’ll sometimes fall asleep in the chair because getting my hair and face fussed with can be rather relaxing.) The look for District 12 was based on Depression Era Appalachia, so the wardrobe and hairstyles were simple. Some had their hair down, some had braids, but nothing too intricate. I overheard the hair stylists double-checking their lookbook notes, “No down braids of any kind on any of the female District 12 extras. That is reserved for Katniss only.” Fair enough.

As the stylist started doing my hair, I felt a familiar shape taking hold….She was doing the iconic Katniss braid on me. I remarked on that as I didn’t want her to inadvertently get in trouble for giving me a braid (silly me thought she might be a day-player. Oh no, she had done the Katniss braid on Jennifer Lawrence before, so she knew exactly what she was doing). “Oh don’t worry, hun. I’m doing this as an updo, so you won’t have a down braid.” Good! Because my hair looks like a rat’s tail when it’s braided….but then she secured the braid with only two small bobby pins. I politely let her know that my hair is a thin, slippery son-of-a-gun, so more bobby pins would be a good idea. She waved me off, “nah, you’ll be fine!

The extras piled into a pair of coach buses that drove us over to a holding tent just outside of set (which happened to be the Goat Farm Arts Center in Atlanta). The sun broke over the horizon as we filed in to claim a spot at the tables laid out inside. Then began the long wait….

Photo courtesy of paparazzi who thought they were going to get pictures of the cast. Hah!

Photo courtesy of paparazzi who thought they were going to get pictures of the cast. Hah!

A small handful of extras were called in for the first two scenes. I, however, was not called in until many hours later for the last scene of the day. But time is rarely ever wasted among extras who are friendly and a wee bit creative. I had the fortune of sitting at a table of fun, chatty folks. As I was a complete newbie at the time to being an extra, I was full of questions and bright-eyed cheeriness. I made some fast friends.

Now, remember the two small bobby pins I mentioned holding my hair up earlier? Surprise, surprise, they fell down. So there I sat with my Katniss braid laid over my shoulder. Of course I couldn’t find where the bobby pins had launched off to in order to resecure my hair. “Don’t worry, the hair stylists will see you on set and immediately stick your hair up. No Katniss braids for anyone in District 12!” the other extras said playfully. Well, the hair stylists did come around to check the extras before a group went on to set and not a single comment was made about my hair. This got the wheels turning at our table.

One of the things we did to pass the time was create characters for ourselves. Who were we? What roles did we play in District 12? One of the odd things that happened earlier on in the day was folks telling me I looked like Katniss. Not the Jennifer Lawrence version, but that I reminded them more of book Katniss (sans colouring). So I rolled that into the creation of my character, Ora; a factory worker who separated the coal and the ore (hence the name and an explanation as to why I was SO covered in soot!). She idolizes Katniss Everdeen, but alas, is not the brightest bulb in the box. Whatever Ora see Katniss do, she tries to replicate, only fails miserable. For instance, she tries to be the ‘girl on fire’, but doesn’t understand the stunt in the arena was synthetic fire. So she runs through town with a torch, but ends up singeing off half of own hair (explanation of why my hair is so thin).

And thus ‘Reverse Katniss’ was born.

Reverse Katniss

Another extra made this shirt for me for the Mockingjay Part I premiere.

The other extras at my table came up with equally interesting characters as well. One guy was Pumpernickel, rival baker to Peeta (as the extra looked alot like Josh Hutcherson). He thought he was a better baker, but in fact was much worse, not being able to quite tell the difference between rocks and bread. (On set he’d try to pass off rocks as food.)  There was Buttons, seamstress, babysitter, and tutor to Prim. Then Star, the town prostitute who didn’t actually sleep with anybody, just stole their supplies (and had a chastity belt ala Robin Hood: Men in Tights hidden under her way-too-large costume). My personal favourite was Hingle McCringleberry, mechanic and general fixer-upper who purposely didn’t fix things completely so he could get more work. Only spoke in the 3rd person. (I’m still friends with that lovely extra to this day. He looks like a mini-Cinna.)

It finally came time where we were all called to set. The scene set was where Katniss returns to District 12 via train to greet her family and the adoring throngs of District 12 to welcome her home. But all is not well as you can see in the deleted scene below.

Can you spot me? 🙂

Catching Fire Train SceneCatching Fire Train Scene

While filming this scene we discovered that Jennifer Lawrence and I are the same height. (There was some talk of me coming back to be cast as her stand-in for Mockingjay, but only if her current stand-in didn’t return. While that would’ve been fun, I’m glad the original stand-in returned. She was lovely, professional, and super funny.)

One thing that was not so pleasant was getting my foot crunched by Josh Hutcherson who was hugging his ‘family’ too fast. There wasn’t an easy opening for me to slip into due to extras who were bent on being camera hogs (there were SO MANY). He moved too fast and I didn’t move fast enough. I think one of the family extras mentioned something to him because the subsequent takes were slower. But such things happen on film sets. No harm was done and it was an honest accident. Nothing to get upset over. So I kept quiet and happily went on filming the rest of the scene.

That’s a wrap on Day One of my first ever extra gig! Stay tuned for Part II!

Awani the Deer Faerie

Deer faerieLast in my lineup of characters I’ve played over the years the Tennessee Renaissance Festival is Awani, the deer faerie. The theme for that year (2012) concerned the colonization of Virginia by England. But we had a real treat this year as one of our cast members was playing, to my knowledge, our first ever Native American character (and she actually is Native American). She and I were partners-in-crime in 2011 when we both played foreign European noblewomen, so I thought it only fitting we should be again. So while she played a Croatan ambassadress to England, I played Awani, the North American white-tailed deer faerie who follows her over; a sort of spirit guide, if you will. (Which was a fun bit to play as  I got to dig into my own Cherokee roots (well, that little 1/16th of my ethnic makeup. Eh, numbers). Now, onto the really fun part – the costume!

Here was my initial design of the character…
Deer faerie costume designSince the general costume theme of the troupe of faeries at TNRF was animals and plants found on a nature trail, I tried to think of what thing in nature I could pull off and what would play to my strong suits. I settled on the deer due to my love of earthy elements, specifically the colour brown. I have dark dark brown eyes that come out black in most pictures. That coupled with having been described as having “big doe eyes” I figured, why not a doe? Thus Awani, the deer faerie was born.

Unfortunately the patrons that come through the TNRF gates aren’t always that bright. Some are truly lovely, but most of the time, you have to kinda smack them upside the head with your design. So I kept all that in mind while I sketched out this faerie. Now I’ll admit, I took liberties with the design as does only have small antlers and no spots. But the easiest way to communicate “deer” to someone is the antlers.

Ideally I want to have a decent-sized rack of antlers (depending on how much weight I can balance successfully on top of my head). That way anyone, even if they’re um….slightly or not-so-slightly inebriated (which they will be at faire, unfortunately) they can still tell I’m a deer. I was inspired by Kato of Steampunk Couture deer outfit. It had a structured, yet unkempt appearance that I really like. There is structure present, but at the same time, it has the feel of running through the woods with hair getting caught in the wind. Very organic.
Steampunk Couture deer antlersThe trick was making a lightweight, but realistic looking rack of antlers that I could attach to my head without causing neck strain, be too top heavy, and/or attached securely enough that if I decided to get animated – as I do – they wouldnt go tumbling. Alas, this plan didn’t quite work out as, at the time, I wasn’t well-versed in materials. So I ended up going with an actual pair of antlers, that my wig stylist epoxy glued to the wig she made.
The wig was made by the illustrious Aria Durso (who, sadly, is no longer in business). It’s actually a blend of 4 different wigs (as evidence by the different colours). However, the very dark hair is actually mine. I would pull out pieces to tease and then blend into the wig around the antlers. Though goodness me, did I learn about wig pain….I had to make sure to take Aleve every day and secure it with about 50 bobbypins!
Awani the deer faerieEars
I used the faun ears from my friends over at Aradani Studios.

Faun ears Makeup
The makeup was fairly simple in terms of colouring as I wanted to keep it natural looking. But we added in heavy black eyeliner (as deers have), false eyelashes (so my own lashes didn’t get lost in all the black), white spots, and a black nose. After looking at many deer makeup looks online, I opted for just painting the bottom of my nose black as I felt that wasn’t as cartoony looking as painting the entire nose black.

The dress was custom made out of layers of cotton and flannel. The outer part was dyed with RIT dye to give it a skin-like colour with the middle part left undyed to give the effect of a fuzzy underbelly. In keeping with the rest of the faire’s cast, we opted for a corset underneath, thus grommets were put in for a tighter structure. Matching bracers were made and tied with silk ribbon.
Oh the tights….all members of cast were required to wear tights. I wanted to do a two-toned pair to mimic deer legs. (as they’re lighter on the inside. It also works wonder for the illusion of having smaller legs!) So I bought a pair of cotton tights to dye. Oh that did not go well….the dye didn’t take (and certainly not in the fashion we were hoping). But I couldn’t come up with a solution by the time faire started, so I went with what I had (and had to put up with the “dirty legs” comments all season).

I opted for a pair of brown woven flats with cushioning for both prancing about and for the airyness of them. The only addition was sewing in a pair of strings to bind my feet in so the shoes wouldn’t go flying off.

These were made by the faerie director of TNRF and myself out of wire wrapped in brown floral tape with silk fabric attached that we hand painting to match the dress (spots included), along with two wire extensions off the top too mimic antlers.

Kirk_Hughes Kirk_Hughes3Derek_deweese15Sometimes the faeries can be completely oblivious of the Troll (King Ik) behind them…

David_Merritt6 526637_10100662546583515_1472616705_nFaeries….you can’t take them anywhere.

Terry_Burns Wild_Canary ME_David_Merritt2Photographs: David Merritt, Steampunk Couture, Derek Deweese, Kirk Hughes,  Wild Canary

Tennessee Renaissance Festival 2011 – Countess Elaine de Francias

French renaissance festival countessAs many artist do, I have my various outlets of creativity (because let’s face it, despite the fact that I get to do something I love, production art is still work!). Costuming and modeling are my primary avenues, with the Tennessee Renaissance Festival having been one of the greatest releases of all.

Tennessee Renaissance Festival by Daniel_MeigsEvery year, Tennessee holds its own Elizabethan faire full of stage acts,  jousting tournaments, live music, human chess, and character performers.  For three years back when I lived in Tennessee, I would audition for cast. I did it once before in 2007, landing the role of a peasant pickpocket. In 2011, I moved up the chain a wee bit to a french countess, sister to the Prince of France. (In 2012, I flitted around as a deer fairy. More on her in the next post!)

French Countess by_Daniel_MeigsOne of the great things about our faire is the immense creativity that goes on behind the scenes; from character development to costume building. All of our costumes are hand-built and custom designed. It would get all my creative juices going to spend months planning, preparing, and designing. It’s heaven for a preproduction gal like me.

Alas, my original design (which was basically a Renaissance version of Belle’s green gown from Beauty and the Beast) did not get approved as another lady in cast had a similar colour scheme (and whose garments were already made). So I yielded to the costume director whose daughter, in turn, let me rent her costume (it helps having a body twin around!). At first I wasn’t sure about the gown I was  given as the colours of baby blue and light gold. They were certainly not colours I would’ve chosen for myself. But after seeing the final result I realised I have a thing or two to learn about colour…So although I did not design this costume, I did design/pick out the accessories, hair, and makeup. Here is the final result of me in 2011 as Countess Elaine de Francias, half-sister to the Duke of Anjou (one of Queen Elizabeth I’s favoured suitors):

ME3It was a challenging character to play as I’ll confess, I’m not the best with verbal improv (physical improv is another story). But I was chosen for the role as I was one of the only people on cast who could do a believable French accent. Well….believable to American ears. I imagine I would embarass myself in front of an actual Frenchman. But the accent worked in my favour as my limits with verbal improv would arise and I could simply explain it away with a “I don’t speak English well”. It went over well and added more believability to the character.

Kirk_Hughes3 IMG_4896(My fellow cast members, who were all playing Englishmen and women were more than happy to get in on the English-French rivalry.)

ME_ScottCraigAll in all it was a very interesting experience, even though the next year, I went back to a more physically-active character. But I enjoyed my time as the Faire’s “Renaissance Disney Princess” that year. (So many little girls would come up to me thinking I was a princess. It made my day to see the big smiles on their faces.)

Tennessee Renaissance Festival noble womanCostume –  Esther Cancasi
Parasol –  Vintage via Ebay
Hair jewels – Claire’s
Earrings – Vintage via Ebay
Basket – Goodwill

Stay tuned for 2012’s TNRF costume – Awani the Deer Faerie!

Photographs: David Merritt, Daniel Miegs, My City Social, Derek Deweese, Kirk Hughes, Scott Craig, Chris Jarvis

Outfit of the Week – Brown Peasant Dress

Brown peasant dressThey say stepping out of your comfort zone can be a good thing. In some cases, I’m rather inclined to agree. In my pursuit of stylish dresses, I tried on one that I wouldn’t normally have picked out. I tried on this little brown number (as I do love forest colours) as that year (2012) was already shaping up to be a scorcher and I needed some cool threads. Perhaps it was the fact that I had my hair curled that day (which for me, always makes whatever I’m wearing look 100 times better), but I skipped along home with dress in tow.

Brown peasant dressBrown peasant dressThough, I have a confession to make….

Brown peasant dressI have a love affair with climbing trees. Back in college, it was quite common that if friends were looking for me, I could be found in one of three trees around campus. There was the grove of trees by Peck Hall, my prayer tree by the school cafeteria, and the Anime Club tree – a perfect climbing tree so large, five of us could fit up there at us. We used to joke that there was a homing beacon inside the tree. If one member of the Club showed up and stood in the tree, within 5 minutes, at least one more Club Member would show up. If was foolproof until some school administrator got the bright idea to cut half of the tree off. I still climbed what was left of the tree, but it wasn’t the same. I couldn’t stand on the farthest thick branch (that’s right, STAND. And stand I would) like a guardian and watch the people passing below me. Which was always amusing because if a group ever passed by, inevitably the last person in the group would do a double take. Oh it was great!

Brown peasant dress in a treeI also used one of the higher crooked branches to lean on and meditate. There were times where I just needed to get away from the stress of classes, social drama, etc. I couldn’t focus on the ground, too much chatter. But there’s something relaxing about being up in a tree by oneself. Even if I was troubled, within a few minutes I’d have a smile on my face.

I miss that tree.

I miss climbing trees in general. Where I live, all the trees are very sap-ridden, tick-riddled cedars. So you can imagine my joy at finding a climable tree at Centennial Park in Nashville. I shimmied up those branches faster than you could blink!

Brown peasant dress sitting in a treeI feel like I’ve got a slight Michelle Dockery look going on in my face below…

Brown peasant dress laying in a treeI felt all sorts of frolicky in this outfit. So naturally, after climbing trees I had to go for a quick jaunt around the field. (Though I’ll admit, I’m not as much of a nature child to go barefoot. My soles were just too tender for that prickly grass!)

Brown peasant dress runningBlowing a kissLying in a fieldLying in a fieldPhotographs © Abrea Crackel 2012.

: Ross   Earrings: Handmade by a friend   Flats: Nine West via Marti & Liz  Bracelet: Target

Allon Book Series – Shannan Costume

6078727060_0b43ecd4fc_b Since today is Mother’s Day, rather than sharing the typical “I love my mom!” (which, obviously, I do), I thought I’d switch things up and share of the fun work my mom has done. Did you know she’s a published, legit author? True story! She has written screenplays for children’s television (Bravestarr, anyone?), historical fiction novels, and my personal favourite, an ongoing allegorical fantasy series called Allon.

A few years back, Mom asked me to create a tangible costume for one of the lead characters to accompany the artwork in publicity. For background on the character, Shannan is the female heroine from the first 4 books. From birth, she is destined to bring back the return of the mysterious Guardians and help Prince Ellis take his rightful place as ruler of Allon. She is a strong, but caring girl, wise beyond her years (and needs to be to deal with a young, hot-headed Ellis!) and an expert hunter. Her grandfather whisked her away upon her birth as she was marked for death by the Dark Way (Why, you ask? Well, you’ll just have to read the book!). As such, Shannan lives in the secluded forest of Dorgirith away from prying eyes and invasive questions.
IMG_0465This was actually my first attempt at creating a full costume from start to finish. But being the costume enthusiast I am, I was quick to take up the task. I knew that I wanted to make a movie-level costume (or as I like to say, a “Weta-level” costume, named for the illustrious Weta Workshop in New Zealand). This particular costume is from the beginning of the book where Shannan’s character is introduced. It a forester’s costume in basis, but with it being in the world of Allon, we tred to stay away from the cliched medieval look. The era of costume I designed for Allon is patterned roughly around the renaissance period, but with a fantasy aspect as well (as Allon is a fantasy world not unlike Middle Earth). Stealth and ease of movement in Shannan’s clothes  are essential. So I designed the costume to keep with a utilitarian fashion.

In the days to come, I will have links posted to behind-the-scenes posts of how each piece of the costume was created.

The Concept:

The Cowl:

The Undershirt:

The Jerkin:

The Sleeves:

The Bracers:

The Pants & Boots:

The Quiver & Belt:

The Pouch & Wineskin:

The Wig:

Then comes the icing on the cake – the photography. Lauren Athalia is one of the most top-notch photographers I’ve ever met. Not only does she know how to wield a camera to maximize the beauty of a naturally-lit scene, but also knows how to use that light to bring out the best qualities of her models. (I have a difficult time with photographers not lighting my face properly and thus my weak jawline becomes my undoing – i.e. my face and neck tend to appear to blend into one another in most photoshoots. I know when I look in the mirror I have a jaw! It’s probably a minor point to most, but Lauren managed to capture my usually elusive jawline on camera and I  couldn’t be happier.) I wanted to give both my mom and Lauren the best pictures I could and boy did I get them.
IMG_0367The really special treat with this photoshoot was that I had a co-star, and a four-legged one at that. One of Shannan’s companions in Allon is a wolf named Torin. Lauren has a knack for procuring incredible sets, props, and animals. So my co-star was a full-blooded Timberwolf named Breeze. Now Breeze is not a pet. I’m not sure about all the details, but she was a rescue. She was a bit skittish at first around us, as wolves usually are around strangers. It took about 30 minutes for her to warm up to me, but it wasn’t long before we started to call her Miss Kiss-n-Run, as she’d quickly lick my face off and then bolt away. I hate to sound cliched, but it was a dream come true for me to be playing alongside a real wolf. I’ve always had a deep loves for wolves. (I think one of the first jobs I ever wanted was to be a zoologist just so I could work with wolves. It was a sad sad day when they got rid of them at the Nashville Zoo.) But before I get sappy, here are Lauren’s beautiful photographs.

Outfit of the Week – The Red Plaid Shirt


After watching a plethora of TV shows and movies, I’ve started noticing one understated article of clothing showing up in almost everything – the Red Plaid Shirt. For example…

Anne Hathaway – Brokeback Mountain
Amy Pond – Doctor Who

Zooey Deschanel – New Girl
And of course the King of Red Flannel himself…Clark Kent (Smallville)
SMALLVILLE "Exposed" (Episode #505) Tom Welling as Clark Kent Credit: © The WB/Sergei BachlakovSmallville Season 10 Blog
I had originally shied away from the idea of wearing such apparel as I didn’t want to identified with the ‘country girl/country bumpkin’ look. But as I suffer from a lack of regular wear (my wardrobe tends to be divided into either rough-n-dirty work clothes or borderline formal wear. Note the lack of in-between), I decided to give the Red Flannel Shirt look a try. Pair it with a pair of jeans and I guess it’s inevitable! Clichéd, but comfortable. I imagine this to be a good errand-running outfit for the crisper weather.

_MG_4550_MG_4616_MG_4526Shirt: Target
Jeans: Ross
Belt: Came with dress from A’Gaci
Boots: Nine West via Marti & Liz
Satchel: Borrowed from photographer
: Gifted
Bracelet: TargetAbrea&meAll photos © of the lovely lady in the peacoat. Abrea Crackel 2011.

Outfit of the Week – Schoolgirl

_MG_4278(NOTE: I have since absconded this outfit as after viewing photos from the shoot. I hadn’t realized just how short the skirt was (in certain shots my bum was completely in view, not very ladylike). My personal style has also changed since when I shot this a few years ago. But nevertheless, people seem to enjoy this outfit alot, so I thought I’d let it see the light of day again. Enjoy!)

Although I didn’t put this outfit together until I was well out of school, the whole ensemble made me think of a British Commonwealth schoolgirl. (It brought back fond memories of living in New Zealand and watching students all neatly filing into schools with their matching uniforms. Granted, I’m sure it was no fun for them, but since I never had to wear a school uniform here in the States, I found the whole look rather intriguing.) Originally I had slapped on the outfit haphazardly to keep myself warm backstage during a runway show, but after hearing a few squeals of admiration from other models I decided to document what silly thing I had put together.

The setting here is at one of my alma maters – East Literature Magnet School in Nashville, TN (now known as East Nashville Junior High School). I attended there for 8th, 9th, and part of 10th grade. Sadly, my desire to devour classic literature and be challenged academically there was not satiated there so I moved on to another school. But as far as this blog post goes, it makes for a great backdrop!

_MG_4314_MG_4352The top part that I’m standing on in the photo above was a popular spot for us more adventurous students. We’d jockey for position to get the highest spot then see who could jump off and gain the ever-coveted ‘cool stunt’ status. After doing this photoshoot and knowing how high up that precipice is, that has got to go down as one of the dumbest things I ever did in middle school.


I would like to say that I’ve traded in my textbook-laden backpack for a lighter, more svelte, grown-up tote, but nay, I’m still using my school backpack for transporting my work supplies. (Though I have to give credit where due, Swiss Army makes fantastic gear. My backpack, which I bought at Target about eight years ago, not only holds up, but has little to no signs of wear at all! Best $50 I ever spent.)

_MG_4294 _MG_4455In college there were seven of us that all had this same Swiss Army backpack in my TV Production class. So we all agreed to put something on our backpacks that signified it being ours so there was no mix-up in picking up someone else’s backpack by mistake. So while everyone else put on various band and music-related memorabilia, I flew my geek flag in the form of a Bumblebee keychain. Even when I go on film or TV sets these days, this backpack will still appear (inevitably a grip or best boy will have this exact backpack), so Bumblebee still comes in handy!

_MG_4260 Dress: Forever 21
Tights: DKNY  
: Topshop via Ebay
Shoes: Goodwill
Glasses: Gifted
Backpack: Swiss Army via Target

All photographs taken by © Abrea Crackel 2011.

Creative ADD and…Oh look! A new idea!


I had planned to do a whole bunch of blog posts this week but dismal, rainy days (with entirely too many life interruptions) have a habit of derailing best-laid plans. Alas, even when skies are clear and time is abundant, I have a serious problem prioritizing my To-Do List. I blame it on what I call “creative ADD” – where there are entirely too many creative concepts in my brain vying for top spot. (Then there’s the added problem of when I start on a project, I ended up getting an idea for another!) To paraphrase the White Queen, “Why, sometimes I [create] as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Actually, for me…make it ten.

I have no problem prioritizing when it comes to paid jobs or for specific events (i.e. deadlines). But open-ended creative ideas have a habit of piling up to the point that I get buried under them. Some have given the advice of, “just pick one!” and I daresay I’ve attempted that. But as mentioned earlier, while in the middle of researching for one project, a random photo or drawing will pop and off my brain goes to create another photoshoot/costume/art project.

I’d be lying if there aren’t some days I wish I could shut my creative brain off! The projects are of so many different varieties – costumes, illustrations, photoshoots, music videos, etc. – and in my typical fashion, NONE of them easy! (Now I do keep all of these ideas logged in specified places as not to lose any of the ideas. I have extensive libraries on my computer and Photobucket of reference folders full of photographs, Word documents, doodles, etc. But as has been happening lately, they are only getting larger, with nothing crossed off the proverbial list.)

I’m beginning to fear that I’ve pigeonholed myself into the Idea phase. I come up with a plethora of concepts and reference to support them, but never seem to get very far past that phase due to yet another idea (and another and another and another) surfacing. There’s so much that goes into creating a good post, from coming up with content to research to good photos to working links, etc. I have completed a few ideas from concept to finished product, but they are fewer than I’d care to admit. Having a deadline definitely helps, though strangely a self-assigned deadline like, “I’m going to finish this costume by ___ (fill in the blank with arbitrary date)” doesn’t seem to work at all. My will circumnavigates my brain in its realisation that it’s not a hard-set deadline. Oh how my creative proverbial cup overfloweth!

And on that note, I’m going to go make myself some tea.

Fur and Feathers Photoshoot

Fur and Feathers Photooshoot

Lauren Athalia, a snazzy Tennessee photographer asked if I could model for her (in exchange for a costume shoot I approached her about doing). She had a photography series she was wanting to shoot called Furs and Feathers – a fusion of fashion and animals. (Though in terms of co-stars and highlighting local rescues and animal organisations. No animals were taken advantage of in any of the shoots.) You can see more of her work on her Facebook page –>

The shoot I was asked to model for was the last of the series. The original idea was to have me in Christian Dior-esque apparel surrounded by miniature horses. Alas, getting the horses to work with us was a significant undertaking. They could have cared less about this bedecked human peacock running around their grounds trying to guide them for pictures. Grass, as it happens, it much more interesting. So unfortunately we weren’t able to get the shots Lauren originally envisioned. BUT the owners of the horses had an amazing backyard that we used to our advantage. That coupled with Meredith Malone’s absolutely beautifully designed outfit made for some very neat shots. It was definitely a departure for me to be wearing a blonde wig (and with a snazzy top hat!), but it was a neat experience to see myself so transformed from my normal brunette look. But without further adieu, here are the photos…

Fur and Feathers Photoshoot

Fur and Feathers Photoshoot


Fur and Feathers Photoshoot


Fur and Feathers Photoshoot


Stay tuned for the next post for a behind-the-scenes look at the shoot!

Photography & Editing: Lauren Athalia
Custom Skirt & Neck Ruffle By: Meredith Malone
Hair: Kristina Noel Wojtkowski
Make Up: Galilee Bagwell
Lighting Assistant: Josh Wood

© Lauren Athalia 2011. All Rights Reserved.