Q&A With the Creative Team for the OASIS Video and Photography

James Grant/Director, Emily Ruth Roche/Actress, Aaron Regan/ Photographer


    Q: The Lisa Hilton OASIS video has been affecting people very positively and is incredibly creative.  How long did the video shoot take and how large was your crew?   I’m glad the video has been received so well – it was a great opportunity to experiment with effects and create a world within another.  We only had a window of about 3 hours in which the lighting in and around the pool was ideal for both principal photography and the effects we employed. I tend to prefer working with a small crew of trusted friends and colleagues – for Oasis, I had the pleasure of working with my usual core group of four: myself, my Director of Photography Blake Gaytan, Camera Assistant Sam Shikiar, and Production Coordinator Courtney Cohen… and Emily of course!

    Q: You must have been in the pool too, right?  It must have been cold – how did you manage? I actually didn’t get in the pool, my Director of Photography, Blake, was the underwater photographer on Oasis; I was able to watch the wireless feed from the camera at the edge of the pool. So while I wasn’t actually under the water, I was watching what he was shooting in all the underwater sequences. Blake and I have actually done a number of underwater shoots prior to Oasis, and we both love the underwater aesthetic, so we both jumped at the chance to try out some new techniques that we made possible with the underwater camera rig and housing we used. Blake had a diving mask and snorkel as well as a weighted dive belt and wet suit that allowed him to sink below and around Emily to capture the surreal angles that are showcased in the video. Safety was paramount and we were all standing by and ready to jump in and give assistance if necessary, but both Blake and Emily were absolute professionals and nailed the choreography that emerged between them while underwater without a hitch.  

    Q: What was the concept and experience you were trying to create? Early in the pre-production talks with Lisa, we knew we wanted the pool to represent the subconscious and the interaction between Lisa and the swimmer to embody an ethereal coexistence. That’s why you’re never really able to identify Emily in the video – Lisa and I wanted her to remain enigmatic – to represent the escape that an oasis provides to a restless mind. I think that the piano is where Lisa finds her oasis, so during the editing process I really tried to represent the world that she creates in the song as a dance between the polar worlds of tension and release, fluidity and rigidity… That dance is what I tried to create and extend through the experimental practical effects that we used in the video, which at times escape detection and others are relatively obvious, all by design. 

    Q: Yeah, there were some clever visual ideas you used – can you share some of those? While I don’t want let all of the cats out of the proverbial bag, I will say that several trips to a crystal store were required, as well as many hours testing in a separate pool for some of the practical effects we used in Oasis. Going in, I knew I wanted to experiment with novel approaches to diffraction and reflection. I knew that just shooting underwater without any sort of effect wouldn’t fully convey the subconscious world that Lisa and I wanted to create underwater. I also didn’t want to use any digital effects – I wanted everything to be done in camera. After experimenting with several different undisclosed mediums of diffusion, we settled on three that we used to their full potential throughout the shoot.  

     Q: Emily looks perfect; how did you cast her? Was it difficult to get her to do all the swim movesI cannot say enough about how great Emily was to work with in the pool, anything we wanted to try she was absolutely on board with. During the casting process, both Lisa and I knew that a strong swimming ability was an absolute necessity. Swimming tends to quite commonly claimed as a skill, but after emailing back and forth with Emily, she really sold me with her background as both a surfer and a competitive swimmer in Australia.

    FOR ACTRESS/MODEL  Emily Ruth Roche: @EmilyRuthRoche

    Q: You must have had a lot of swimming experience before the Lisa Hilton OASIS video – did you grow up swimming in Australia?  I did! I’ve always been a strong swimmer! In Australia it’s actually a law that every child take swimming lessons at 18 months old. From there I spent a lot of time in the water, from surfing to competitive swimming. 

    Q: Was the director James Grant, specific in what he asked you to do?  Was that difficult to translate his vision underwater while holding your breath? James was a fantastic director! He sent over a vision board pre-shoot, for some inspiration. The board had a ton of pictures of beautiful flowing dresses in the water. He also sent me some great videos that captured the emotion of what he envisioned. As for the breathe holding; I think all the yoga and breathe work I do came in handy, so it wasn’t difficult to stay in the emotional tone he wanted.

    Q: What was the temperature and how long were you in the pool?   Would you do another underwater video, or was that enough? It was a full day of filming – I think in total I was in the water for about 5 hours. Luckily the pool we shot in was heated at a beautifully warm temperature of 85 degrees. I actually loved it! I reapplied sun screen a few times, and got out to warm up a few times. But I wouldn’t hesitate to jump in for another underwater shoot (no pun intended haha).

    Q: You look amazing in the video – were you surprised at how ethereal it looks now that it’s done?  I was blown away at the finished product. It’s always exciting to see the final edit, because you never know what has been seen through the lens. And James absolutely nailed it. I’m very proud to be a part of it!


    Q: Wow is it unusual to do the photography AND the design on a project – do you normally work that way? Do you think it’s easier or more difficult to do both? Every now and again both seem to align. I was happy with the outcome of the photos, so when it came to designing for Lisa’s album it all came together nicely. Not too sure if it’s easier or difficult, but definitely more fun. Photos and design work so well together.

     Q: What was the idea and concept or vibe you were going for on the album cover and booklet? The title Oasis kind of sums up the concept. I think it’s that place that’s inviting and warm: a place you don’t want to leave.

     Q: Was it difficult shooting the swimmer Emily with a still camera rather than video?  Did you have to get in the water to shoot? I didn’t need to get in the water; I think that could have been cool though! I shot mostly out of focus images of her while she was swimming and tried to get a dreamy look going on. I like how the tones of all the images turned out and how well everything works together with the video and music too.

     Q: Hanging around a pool on a sunny day seems like a pretty good job Aaron – is that a typical day in your creative life? I wouldn’t say a typical day, but from time to time those kind of photo shoots do happen. It’s nice to get outside to work and take photos instead of designing, which I do mostly at the computer.