The Surprise Film Premiere - Keef Williams Photography

The Surprise Film Premiere

January 2017

An accidental short film

Being asked to do Set photography is always interesting. The small army of helpers all working towards a common goal is a wonderful environment to work. Especially from a passive set\still photographer position, it’s a oddity on set as everyone else there is actively working on a project; I find myself more as observer, as documenting the work of others, so it was a hugely fortuitous and in the end emotional situation that resulted in me accidentally “creating” a short film with its own premier.

Initially I need to establish the situation and that this wouldn’t of happen if it wasn’t for the hard work, organization and dreams of the producer\actor who really did all the work. Dieuwertje mooij. She undertook a herculean task to write, produce and act in four short films, filmed crazily over two weekends. This in itself you should hear form her. However I got asked if I was willing and able to help out on set on any of these productions; In the end I was able, willing to volunteer, and cherry pick two of these projects.

One was a contemporary dance video, which automatically enticed me as I’ve been moving towards more movement and form photography and it seemed like a wonderful opportunity to work on something close to what I wished.


The second was a period\fantasy piece that revolved around a horse. Now who wouldn’t want to photograph a horse galloping around? Something I had never thought of as a subject and HAD to jump at the chance. Now I could write about the experiences of these alone, and maybe I will sometime, however let me keep focused on the story at hand; An accidental short film.

So as a set photographer I get also asked if I’d like to take photographs at the premier of some of the films I’ve worked on; Although these jobs are of little interest creatively I found that there is some goodwill and leverage to try to get something in return. I’ve realized I can ask to have my photographs of the film displayed on the screen with before or after the premier. I see it as a small throw-away, token gesture that usually comes as an positive and pleasant suggestion that the producer, director or actor had not considered.

This has happened before and had been a pleasant background when the audience are settling in or walking out. So in this instance I had once again made the suggestion and was taken up on it; we the chance to have my photos sandwiched between the two screening of the film due to the small cinema that was available. With my expectation set, and a short presentation thrown together with my selected best, favorite and appropriate photographs of the two shoots.


With a little playing about with some background music I headed off to the premier with camera in hand to do a few red carpet photos and see how they look on “big screen’, of course if the public don’t get in the way and talk over them as they shuffle in and out of the room. After a few photos on the red carpet and poking around the venue, plus a little preparation stress a Diewerje, fought both technical and logistic issues of her premier, I settled down to in the venue to watch the four films that Diewerje had poured so much time, effort and money into, and now looked like a quite impressive show reel of her talents. None of the short films I had seen as part of the process, with only a few screen shots or promo material released, so I was prepared and sat back to enjoy these but was also alone in having a little excitement for the intermission, and my short contribution to the day. After the first video, the music video I worked on, I was sat both immersed in the productions and also mentally counting down to the end with the slight guilty expectation.

After the third film was screened, my interested was focused on the fourth and final presentation; the fantasy\horse film that was the second film that I shoot photos for. Such was my expectations regarding what to expect from the day I walked straight into an emotional tidal wave when suddenly I was looking at my name on the big screen. A little shocked and overwhelmed feeling was compounded together and resulted with a confusing glace towards Diewerje, under the misunderstanding that a film had been skipped. Then the music kicked in, accompanied! by the stirring music that we had chosen to be used over my photos. The surge of pride overwhelmed me as my photographs, and partly me were shown on screen as technically the fourth film of the day.

Completely wrong footed, I sat stunned as the audience reacted to my work, with some shape intakes of breath, oohing and ahhing on some of my work. I was close to tears. After the screening of the film, which too my surprise was actually the longest “short”, and the resulting applause, for Diewerje of course, but the timing and my emotional state allowed me to take some of the applause for myself. A little stunned Diewerje told me that the editing on the final film was not complete and she had decided to make mine the fourth screening she had promised the audience. A mixture of pride, shock and regret for not inviting others to see my surprising moment in the sun all occurred at the same time.


Also receiving congratulations and compliments I felt both unprepared and fraudulent, as I had accidentally “produced” my first short film without any of the stress, financial risk and hard work that is normally associated with such an event.

After composing myself and processing the moment, I quietly realized that I had a second chance to catch the event and try to enjoy the moment.

So I tried to both ensure Diewerje was happy with the proceedings (as she was the REAL star of the show), and also to try to mentally prepare myself to be ready for the second screening. This time I wanted to a little more mentally prepared to savor the experience.


The Premiered Film

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