When you make a movie, you focus primarily on the big picture — the most effective combination of characters, actions, dialogue, and imagery. At the same time, though, you have to be aware of a thousand small details — everything from the style of a shirt to the type of car a character drives.
In the case of Oh Crappy Day, the script called for a diner with photos of old-time movie stars covering its walls. We had a filming location that fit the bill perfectly — a Raleigh favorite called Hayes Barton Café & Dessertery, which already had a collection of Hollywood headshots.
There was just one problem: if we planned to film these specific headshots, we would have to get permission for each and every image, from whatever estate or company held the rights. The cost would have been prohibitive, in terms of time as well as money.
So, instead, we decided to create our own “movie stars.” We started searching for models with a “look” that suggested classic Hollywood. We studied movie-star portraits from the 1920s to the 1960s, to familiarize ourselves with changing styles of clothing, hair, and lighting. We rummaged through attics and costume shops for vintage clothes and jewelry. Most importantly, we found a talented young photographer, Jonathan Okafo.
Finally, we met the models at a Durham studio, where we styled them and Jonathan worked his magic. It took several weekends in 2018, and more time afterwards for digital touch-ups, but we had all the headshots we needed to dress our set — long before we started principal photography in February 2019.
All in all, we had a lot of fun creating our “movie stars,” and the photos look great in the scenes we filmed at Hayes-Barton Café!
In the photos above and below, you can see how we transformed two of our friends. Ryan Headley became a star of the 1940s, while Mayerlin Muñoz became a star of the 1950s.
And here’s how their headshots looked on one of the walls at our filming location, Hayes Barton Café and Dessertery.