A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away… Disney acquired the Stars Wars franchise from Lucasfilms ….
... and since then, Star Wars toys have been flying off the shelves at Target. To prepare for this holiday season’s new Rogue One: a Star Wars Story toys, Los Angeles based agency Deutsch approached Wonderful Machine photographer Cade Martin to shoot a series of conceptual photos of Star Wars toys for Disney and Target. Deutsch needed a photographer that could use their love for cinema and storytelling to transcend consumers beyond product shots by creating an immersive series of cinematic imagery that showcased the magic and excitement of the Star Wars universe.
Like many children growing up, Cade was a big fan of the original Star Wars movies and considers the series iconic to his childhood. More broadly, he loves anything cinematic since from early on his parents dragged him to all kind of movies, which helped him internalize a large range of cinematography. This helped Cade develop a love for still photography that was inspired stylistically by cinema.
“I’ve just recently started to realize - that the movies (and comic books) of my youth have been some of my greatest and most important influences in my life and my picture-making.”
Although it is common for strict artistic direction while working with an agency, it was clear that Deutsch saw past any proverbial boxes. Cade found a lot of creative flexibility while working with the agency during preproduction and planning, and pitched ideas on how to approach the project from a lighting and camera POV perspective.
Cade pulled inspiration from classics like King Kong to the genius of recent films like Anomalisa. With these as influencers, he was able to approach the project from a story telling standpoint. Cade also choose two very unique partners to collaborate with --- his kids. He immediately started to look at the figures like characters in a stop motion film, and began to imagine the environments that they would inhabit.
"My kids are great, their perspective also allowed me to start seeing things from a fresh point of view and channel the excitement and imagination of kids - the very kids who would take those toys and create their own rebel worlds.”
Although storytelling is a strength for the conceptual photographer, it also doubles as his biggest challenge. Cade worked with set designer Todd Davis who crafts expertly small, yet authentic worlds, helped the team a lot with concept planning for the shoot. The team had all sorts of gadgets and widgets in order to make movements doable on-set, and photograph everything all in-camera. Part of what Cade likes about shooting is the adventure and challenge of making things work, so being able to do everything in the moment without having to rely heavily on post production made the process, and the results, that much more satisfying.
Although Cade wasn't able to bring any of the toys home, he is thrilled to have worked on a project that encompassed his favorite childhood series.