I interviewed Bradford West from Slava’s Snowshow after a photo shoot of the show at the Canberra Theatre, in Canberra, Australia.
I was invited at the eleventh hour to shoot photographs of Slava's Snowshow on the day it opened in Canberra. I grabbed my camera and headed for the Canberra Theatre in the centre of town and started shooting. Elena Dolmatova, Slava's Snowshow's Company Manager, had arranged for three performers to do two pieces from the show: The Blue Canary and Snowstorm.
At the end of the shoot, it became evident that they were keen to do an interview. I was about to pack up my gear when I spoke with Elena—she and a performer were the only ones to speak English: the rest spoke Russian I was told—to get more background on the show and the English-speaking performer.
I hadn’t planned to shoot video so had no gear: camera, lights or sound. I quickly decided that Bradford would make a good interview subject and decided to shoot it with the DSLR: the only recording device I had.
I had no tripod so I balanced the DSLR on an improvised monopod made from the handle of a cobweb broom (it unscrews from the broom head and extends so I could extend or collapse it as needed). The audio was through the camera’s built-in mic. The theatre was unlit and black so I opted for the only light available, which was onstage.
I had Bradford sit on the stage floor in a pool of light so that the “snow” on the floor would reflect back and provide some fill. I knelt down and collapsed the broom handle to its minimum length. That positioned me slightly above Bradford so he had to look up, which helped the lighting on his face from the overhead stage lights. I positioned myself so that his darker clothing was against the white 'snow' and his lighter head and hair were against the dark background caused by the light fall-off.
I briefed Bradford on the general thrust of the interview, told him I would cut the questions in edit and asked him to reply to my questions in complete sentences so that what he said would make sense to viewers who would not know what the questions were. Bradford, being a consummate professional, understood what I wanted and was very open in his answers. The whole thing took about 7 minutes from deciding to shoot to packing up gear.
Of course, then came the edit. I had no cutaways of the performance because I was shooting stills. So I had to sort through the images from the photo shoot and sweeten about 35 of them so I had coverage for the video. After the first cut, I marked the cutaway positions, timed the intervals, imported the stills, grouped them, set the duration and then animated them and put in transitions. It’s certainly a lot easier and quicker to simply put in a clip, but the results were worth the effort.
Slava’s Snowshow is spectacular, so here is some background on it for those who have yet to discover it.
Slava Polunin has been praised as “the best clown in the world”. He performed in Cirque Du Soleil, drawing on the influence of artists like Charlie Chaplin, Marcel Marceau and Leonid Engibarov. Slava then created his own show, Slava’s Snowshow, that has since taken out awards around the world.
Slava’s Snowshow is a superbly crafted visual spectacle loved by children and adults alike. He and his company of clowns has removed clowning from the circus and placed it centre stage in the theatre.