The Silliness Continues At The Upfront Theatre

The Silliness Continues At The Upfront Theatre

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The Upfront Theatre has been a regular client of mine for a number of years now. It is the heart of the comedy scene in the Bellingham area, an improv comedy theatre created and owned by one of the improv greats, Ryan Stiles. Though Ryan will pop into a performance here or there unexpectedly (which always draws a roar from the equally surprised audience), the comedy is primarily driven by a local cast of performers. Now, there are people who are trying to be funny and then there are those who simply are¬†funny. In other words, it may seem to many that “funny” is a circumstance of “getting lucky” with striking a chord in the audience to manufacture a laugh, however, it is quite the opposite – it’s not luck, but shear hard-earned talent developed by these guys over years and years. Through my time with the theatre, I’ve come to fully appreciate this talent, getting the opportunity to work with the cast outside of improv performances to see the methodical nature of how they can make consistent laughter fill the theater through every minute of every show. Yes, it is improv, so it is made up on the spot, sometimes with such well-time, witty banter you’d swear it was scripted. Nope, the cast here is just that good. I’m often left wondering at the end of the show where the cameras are, because the vast majority of shows are that good, they should be regularly filmed. Of course, practice makes perfect, and they’ve had lots of it. The theatre even provides tiered improv classes, teaching those who are interested the art of improv performance. If you are ever in or around the Bellingham area, I highly recommend attending a show.

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A few times a year, I work with the crew to create both flexible and specific marketing imagery. We’ll shoot dynamic imagery that they’ll use for anything from poster design to silly “turn your phone off” reminders in their pre-show slideshow. We usually shoot this stuff on white seamless, making design and after-the-shoot marketing ideas work with a huge set of images capturing the cast in all kinds of random situations. We usually spend about an hour shooting this while the cast takes turns teaming up and running through the rainbow of expressions and body language. I get to sit there and laugh while capturing, the bulk of the cast not being photographed at the moment harass performances out of the ones on-camera, and we make some fun stuff.

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Don’t ask me to explain this one. Sometimes they’ll have a silly costume they want me to shoot and I just do it.

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We then move on to shooting more stylized, specific concepts which are tailored to show themes they play throughout the year. We hit some of the more popular ones – Space Trek, Hellingham, and Cops. Here are a few of the images that we made just behind the theatre building.

Little cops action…

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On to Hellingham…

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Kris plays thee best creepy-funny guy. One of my fav performers, he always kills…

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We always make sure to get a fresh round of head shots as well. Tim here in rare form.

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We shoot all of this – seamless, head shots, and location work inside of a 3-hour window. It’s very much a run and gun situation to fit everything in – flinging to together lighting styles to properly translate the theme (often improved itself), tossing the troupe in and run through some emotions, and then on to the next. The time always goes by too fast on my shoots, but when you are shooting and laughing, it’s a blink of an eye.