The Oscar-qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival and Modern Luxury were thrilled to collaborate with acclaimed LA-based photographer Matt Draper for the first annual HollyShorts Oscar Nominees Portraits. This year’s portraits collaboration was sponsored by Alta Global Media. The photographs took place in iconic locations throughout Los Angeles.
Matt Draper is inspired by meeting his subjects and together finding a creative way to capture a memorable outdoor photo moment, a timely strategy with the Covid times and restrictions.
Draper was able to capture all 7 of the HollyShorts filmmakers, a truly international and diverse group, who were nominated for Oscars---a festival record, with two ultimately winning 2021 Academy Awards (Two Distant Strangers and If Anything Happens I Love You). Here, Draper shares the stories behind the photos.
I met up with Doug Roland, director of Feeling Through, at his home in Silverlake and discovered he had a rooftop with a desk and non-working desk light. Even though he’s never used the desk, I thought it matched the setting for a young Hollywood filmmaker to be sitting on the roof, banging out the script for his next project. So this is where we got some of my favorite shots from this shoot. The rest of the shots were captured by walking up his street and back.
Two Distant Strangers
After seeing Travon Free’s short Two Distant Strangers, I was inspired by the idea of doing a multi-exposure shot with Travon as three versions of himself. Happily, he loved the idea and was willing to do three wardrobe changes. We shot at his home in Beverly Hills which he was still moving into. The couch we grabbed some shots on had just been delivered the day before. For the multi-exposure shot we moved outside where the light was better and shot near his pool.
For my shoot with Skye Fitzgerald, he wanted to shoot at the beach because it tied in with a series of shorts he’s making. So I met him there while his wife and son played in the water just off camera. We were going to shoot at the end of the day when the lighting was best, but when we saw some heavy clouds forming in the morning we decided to do it earlier. But of course with Murphy’s Law being what it is, the second we met up the sky cleared and, once again, I was fortunate enough to have brought my strobe so we could still make the shots work. At the end of my shoot with Sky, I had his family join him for a “vacation beach shot.” They all had fantastic smiles and I would have been happy to include one of those photos as well.
ELVIRA LIND AND SOFIA SONDERVAN
The Letter Room
Elvira Lind and Sofia Sondervan were the very last directors I shot and I met them, believe it or not, in the drive in for gathering their swag bag (of sorts). Yes, due to Covid, the Beverly Hills hotel had it set up so participants of this year’s Academy Awards could drive through their roundabout and collect their swag from a variety of vendors. I was asked to hop in their car as they made the drive through, and was even fortunate enough to be gifted a food box by the ladies. From there, we drove over to the park near Rodeo and Santa Monica and grabbed some quick shots at the wonderfully old trees, as big as some buildings, that rule the park.
I met Farah Nabulsi at The Four Seasons hotel where she was staying, and after getting clearance from security we shot in the back patio of the hotel—that had a great area for some natural light shots. But as it turned out, once again I was fortunate to bring my strobe, as a great shot presented itself in the darkened corner of the patio. Here, I had Farah sit on a couch with a beautiful arrangement of plants, flowers and palm trees behind her.
MICHAEL GOVIER AND WILL MCCORMACK
If Anything Happens I Love You
I met Michael Govier and Will McCormack at Griffith Park to shoot them where they came up with the idea for their short film. Although the exact location they met to conceive the concept for the short was occupied by a young mother and her infant, we grabbed a variety of shots nearby. You would be hard pressed to meet humbler, more gracious people than these two men.
For the shoot with Tomer Shushan, Director of White Eye, I met up with Tomer, Producers Shira Hochman and Kobi Mizrahi, and star of the short David Gad at their hotel near Hollywood and Highland. With plenty of interesting places around that area, we took a walk around the block and came up with a variety of shots. Along the way, I saw a parked Hollywood Tour Van and asked them to hop in for a fun shot. They were game and we captured one of my favorite shots.