Indian Summers to Premier Feb 15th in UK.

Indian Summers to Premier Feb 15th in UK.
Penang, 2014

Georgetown, Penang, 2014

 

My adopted home, Georgetown, Penang became the unlikely setting for the new UK Channel 4 series, Indian Summers. The series is set in Colonial India in 1932 in the summer capital of Simla. Yes, during these days the British Raj had two capitals: New Delhi during the winter months and Simla, a hill station set in the foothills of the India Himalaya in the hot Indian Summers. Thus the name.

To quote from the press release from Channel 4:

It’s the summer of 1932. India dreams of independence, but the British are clinging to power. In the foothills of the Himalayas stands Simla; a little England where the British power-brokers of this nation are posted to govern during the warmer months.spacersmSet against the sweeping grandeur of the Himalayas and tea plantations of Northern India, Indian Summers tells the rich and explosive story of the decline of the British Empire and the birth of modern India. Revealing a tangled web of passions, rivalries and clashes that define the lives of those brought together in the shadow of the mountains, this is a summer which will change everything. ~Channel 4

I answered the casting call for someone who had equestrian experience. They needed to cast a riding instructor for a scene with actors Henry Lloyd-Hughes and Nikesh Patel. I rode a horse every day during my job as a municipal park ranger in Waco, Texas back in the ’80s so I was well qualified. While interviewing me for the part, the Producer Dan McCulloch asked what I was doing in Penang. I told him I was a photographer based out of here. The next thing I know I was being asked to send in a portfolio of images to Channel 4. Soon after that I found myself on the set of Indian Summers as the series’ still photographer. All of this was very new to me. I thought a set photographer took photos of the behind the scenes action. Not really. The still photographer shoot images of the actors while the filming is going on. The goal is to get images that look and feel like screen grabs or alternate views of important scenes. Also to photograph the actors for use in promotional pieces, from press releases to movie posters. It was all quite exciting and I was feeling very out of my depth. I was not needed every day on the set. They only needed shots of key scenes and as such I would only be requested for four or five days in each block of shooting.

In the interview Dan asked me what camera I shot. I told him Fujifilm and got a blank look. I told him it was a small APS-C sensor… another blank look. He asked it it could do the job. I assured him it could. Though frankly, I was nervous. I soon found out that most set photographers shoot their cameras in a box, sometimes even waterproof housings all in an effort to dampen the shutter click. When shooting while filming the photographer is often right by the microphone and a loud shutter can come through on the audio track. Fortunately the smaller cameras like the Fujiflm X-system have a very quiet shutter. In fact I never had a complaint from the sound guys, and I would often ask them if they heard my shutter. If I shoot this next season I will be in an even better place as the new firmware for the X-T1 has a silent shutter. Tailor-made for assignments like this.

The actors and crew were very understanding and accommodating. But it took a while for me to understand that I could ask the Director of Photography (DP) to pause the production to allow me in to photograph a scene either during rehearsal or after they wrapped it. Like so many learning experiences you have to find people that can give you advice. Being the only still photographer on the set I relied on several experienced crew members and actors. Speaking of actors, everyone of these actors on the set of Indian Summers was a pleasure to photograph.  Even the seasoned actors like Patrick Malahide would often take time out of resting between takes and allow me to photograph him over and over again. Personally I would have told myself to shove off!

Probably my biggest adjustment was understanding that, as odd as this may sound, this is not street photography or photojournalism. I had to remember to always consult Makeup befor photographing any actor. Remember, in effect each photo needed the character to look as if they stepped right out of the film. So if I photograph Henry Lloyd-Hughes is in a scene without a coat but he always wears a coat in that scene then it makes the photo potentially unusable. The problem for me was that I come from a photography background of: I see it, I take it. However on set, that is a no, no. I can’t tell you how many times I got scolded by Makeup – and rightly so.

I was privileged to photograph all the main actors but one: Julie Walters. While she was on set I was on a preplanned family vacation. I had already planned this trip with the family to Italy prior to even going in for the riding instructor part. But I was able to photograph most everyone else.

The series is set to air on February 15th in the UK on Channel 4. I have no clue when it will be aired here in Malaysia. But trust me, this is a series you will not want to miss.

As the season progresses I will be free to post more images. But for today here is a look at the main cast, at least the ones I photographed.

By the way, I got that part as the riding instructor. It is in the third episode. Be sure and check out my British accent.

-Click the photos below to view the exif data in a lightbox.

Henry Lloyd-Hughes as Ralph Whelan

Henry Lloyd-Hughes as Ralph Whelan

 

Henry Lloyd-Hughes

Henry Lloyd-Hughes

 

Nikesh Patel as Aafrin Dala.

Nikesh Patel as Aafrin Dala.

 

Nikesh Patel

Nikesh Patel

 

Alice Whelan played by Jemima West

Alice Whelan played by Jemima West

 

Jemima West

Jemima West

 

Rick Warden as Ronnie Keane

Rick Warden as Ronnie Keane

 

Alexander Cobb as Ian McLeod

Alexander Cobb as Ian McLeod

 

Craig Parkinson as Dougie Raworth

Craig Parkinson as Dougie Raworth

 

Fiona Glascott as Sarah Raworth

Fiona Glascott as Sarah Raworth

 

 

Amber Rose Revah as Leena Prasad

 

Roshan Seth as Darius Dalal

Roshan Seth as Darius Dalal

 

Lillete Dubey as Roshana Dalal

Lillete Dubey as Roshana Dalal

 

Aysha Kala as Sooni Dalal

Aysha Kala as Sooni Dalal

 

Ashna Rabheru as Shamshad Dalal

Ashna Rabheru as Shamshad Dalal

 

Olivia Grant as Madeleine Mathers

Olivia Grant as Madeleine Mathers

 

Edward Hogg as Eugene Mathers

Edward Hogg as Eugene Mathers

 

Patrick Malahide as Lord Willingdon, Viceroy of India

Patrick Malahide as Lord Willingdon, Viceroy of India

 

Ellora Torchia as Sita

Ellora Torchia as Sita

 

 

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About The Author

Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer. In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.

21 Comments

  1. Sandy

    Do you know if this will air in the US?
    Looks fascinating

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      I have heard it will be released in the Fall sometime. It will be on PBS Masterpiece, just like Downton Abbey was I believe. Indian Summers is a Channel 4 and Masterpiece co-production.

      Reply
  2. Meng Yeap

    As a Penangite and a fellow X series user, I am happy and proud for this post, hope this show is release in Malaysia

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Thank so much Meng, that means a lot to me.

      Reply
  3. Caroline

    WOW,!!! How exciting this must have been!! I truly felt the excitement myself while reading it all, holding my breath here and there. That must have been quite an experience and quite frankly I am just a tiny bit jealous (I lied here, in fact I am a lot jealous!)
    Those photos are really wonderful, I am happy to know the X-10 made these (because I am going to have one soon myself). Did you use external flash light here and there or none at all?
    Lovely, just lovely!

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Thanks Caroline, I think you mean the X-T1, right? It really is an amazing camera.

      Reply
  4. Caroline

    Yes I mean the X-T1…. got my numbers mixed up again…. :/

    Reply
  5. Andy Wilson

    What ho, old bean! Looking forward to checking out the old accent to see if it is pukka :0. Have to wait ’til I’m back in Blighty or the DVD comes out on Amazon, though. Congrats Matt.

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Thanks Andy!

      Reply
  6. Deb Snelson

    Stunning images! Congrats to you – must have been a great experience. So glad it will be coming to Masterpiece – my DVR ready to record!

    Reply
  7. Valerie Swift

    Wonderful news. Does anyone know if we colonials DownUnder are going to see it at any stage? And where? I was a pupil at the school on Penang Hill where the series was filmed. Understand the old place received a well-earned renovation for the filming.

    Reply
  8. Roger Ogle

    Looking forward to the series screening in the UK. I also attended Uplands School on the hill. The main building will be seen as the Royal Simla Club whilst the garden party is held on the former school field where I played lots of rugby and did gymnastics. It was a lovely place to attend as a child 50 years ago and I’m looking forward to returning to Penang in March.

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Roger, I hope you will recognize the place. They did a lot of landscaping and renovation work for the series.

      Reply
      • Roger Ogle

        From the very brief clips on TV promoting the series the entry gate, main school building, games field and principal’s bungalow are all very recognisable

        Reply
  9. Ashley

    This is so awesome! Great experience, I’m sure. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be the still photographer on a film production set. Interesting to read your experience.

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Thanks Ashley, it really was a great experience. I hope it won’t be the last.

      Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Thanks Ashley, it really was a great experience. I really learned a lot. Never stop learning!

      Reply
  10. Rob vE

    Great work Matt!

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Thanks Rob.

      Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Thanks Gary. I appreciate that. More to come…

      Reply

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