A film project from New Zealand fashion house Out of Comfort, The Heist is a kinetic embodiment of the brand’s rejection of limiting traditional mindsets in favour of unfettered self-expression. Making its premiere on DN today, cinematographer and co-creator John Ross takes us inside his collaboration with founder/creative director Shannon Thompson and explains how they created this exhilarating statement of liberation.

I first met Shan, from Out of Comfort, at a creative community talk where we both spoke. I was looking for something interesting to shoot and she had a similar creative mindset so we clicked. We starting sharing ideas via Pinterest and had arrived at a solid visual aesthetic. Running off that, I found a soundtrack and gathered reference clips off Film Supply to support the narrative idea. It was important that we both had the clearest possible vision of how the end product was to look, so the reference video was a huge help and looks very similar in concept to our final video. It also helped us trim some of the fat and see what worked and what didn’t before we pulled the whole crew together.

Production was a labour of love. Shan managed to pull together a small community to help and I had my good friends Scott and Ryan come on board to cam assist. We were fortunate to have local production company Resonate lend some gear also.

For the floating scenes I’d scouted a few locations in the week prior. We had a cherry picker booked for the morning so we were up and on location before sunrise. I’m always amazed at how people can galvanize towards a common goal and I’m thankful for the passion brought by each person who pitched in, especially at 5am! Hanging from the cherry picker was quite a strain on the body. We could only have the model up there for short periods so it was important that the focus puller Ryan and myself nailed the shots we needed as efficiently as possible.

It was important to me to have everyone of the same ethos right through the pipeline.

Having such a large crew of volunteers was always going to be logistically challenging and to add to that was the need to shoot at dusk for much of it. This stretched the project out considerably and was a great chance to learn the art of patience!

Once we’d wrapped I sent the film off to my friend, Colourist Matic Prusnik. I was very fortunate to have someone I was able to trust with colour process. Not only is he a very skilled colourist but he embodies the same meticulous approach that both Shan and I feed off and it was important to me to have everyone of the same ethos right through the pipeline. The same can be said of Chris Sinclair who handled the sound mix, while also bringing new ideas to the table to consider.

Of the many lessons I took away from this project, the biggest lesson was in interdependence. Even though much of the concept was my own, I felt like only one small instrument of a greater ensemble. Everyone had their own part to play and with that, brought their own unique colours to the canvas. So what began as my basic sketch so to speak, ended as a work of art.

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