Feature-length documentary production
Client: University of Leeds
Project: Fabulous Femininities
We were presented with a remarkable opportunity by the University of Leeds’ School of Performance and Cultural Industries to produce a feature-length documentary on the subject of Burlesque. The project demanded extensive travel across the UK, a tight production schedule of 6-8 weeks, and a production company with a strong track record in the documentary field, including broadcast credits. Furthermore, the challenge was to approach a niche and occasionally controversial subject matter, presenting it to a broader audience in a sensitive yet engaging manner.
We embarked on the ‘Fabulous Femininities’ project in early April, with a production plan that had been meticulously laid out well in advance. We began by conducting initial interviews with six performers in their homes, aiming to delve into the profound significance they attach to the creation and design of their costumes. We explored how costumes empower and enhance their performances and delved into nuanced aspects, such as their role in message-driven acts and their integration into the performances themselves.
With contributors entrusting us to communicate their experiences, we felt a profound responsibility to present a clear, objective, and fair narrative. Utilising a fly-on-the-wall format, we spent a day with each performer, capturing their daily activities and performances to showcase the authentic essence of burlesque.
Recognising the importance of aesthetics in burlesque, we carefully considered our film’s visual style. We employed a 4:3 aspect ratio to focus attention on our contributors’ narratives and costumes, switching to 16:9 during performances for a broader perspective. A touch of film grain was added during post-production to enhance the cinematic experience and we opted to minimise music use, reserving it for impactful moments.
We delivered various edits, including a 52-minute feature-length version, a 20-minute featurette for short film festivals, a 2-minute promotional trailer, and individual story edits for each burlesque performer. The documentary was completed and approved ahead of the deadline and received an overwhelmingly positive response at the symposium.
Due to its success, ‘Fabulous Femininities’ will be featured at numerous film festivals throughout the UK in 2023/24.