Mezze - Zero Fax Given: the making of
*Fax machines were harmed in the making of this film.
Did you enjoy that? We hope so. There’s something incredibly satisfying about watching inanimate objects being obliterated in super slow motion. Especially obsolete inanimate objects, whose mere existence evokes a morose nostalgia of instant coffee-gone-cold, unbearably bland decor and ill-fitting grey suits. Once cutting edge, these old phones and fax machines are now fossils of bygone office life, suitable only for one thing: being smashed to pieces.
Astonishingly, many businesses don’t (yet) agree — or at least, don’t feel as if they’re in a position to move away from their antiquated hardware. When Gravitywell started working with food manufacturing giant Adelie Foods five years ago, they were still taking customer orders via phone and fax. Before long, our customer portal software had changed the face of their operation and the seeds of Mezze were sown.
Since its soft launch this year, our SaaS platform — designed specifically for the food manufacturing industry — has helped some of the UK’s leading companies shift from analogue to online, saving them considerable expenditure in the process. So how better to demonstrate the triumphant move away from outdated apparatus than produce a video of it meeting its demise?
The first challenge was identifying a suitable location for the shoot. As the slow-mo effect was integral to the final result, lighting was a key factor. This ruled out early, guerilla considerations like outdoor car parks and back alleys. We obviously needed somewhere robust — your average photography studio wouldn’t take kindly to sledgehammer-shaped holes in the floor and sharp pieces of debris flying around the place.
After some inspired Google searching, we honed in on a Gumtree listing for a car body shop (South West Sprayers) in deepest Somerset. Our recce proved successful — the space was perfect, and the guys were more than happy for us to leave sledgehammer-shaped holes in their floor. Although they’d like to see us try.
Choosing the right model was another careful consideration. Our protagonist had to mean business, both aesthetically and with said sledgehammer. Angus fit the bill. Professional looking, we felt that food industry directors would easily relate to his smashine suit-clad performance.
We also had to allow time to source equipment for the shoot. Finding a couple of sledgehammers was easy enough (thanks again, Gumtree), as was the protective eyewear etc., but the obsolete office goods required rummaging. Where does one purchase neglected phones and fax machines? Well, eBay of course. Without a one-stop-shop for these redundant wares, we relied on private sellers, hoovering up everything we could find from a Panafax UF-590 in Pontypool to a PaperJet 55 E in Paisley. Around 15 in total.
For camera and lighting, we looked no further than our go-to equipment hire service, the fantastic Bristol-based Floating Harbour. The URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 would be capable of capturing 300 fps and is an excellent piece of kit. We also added some 50mm f1.2 and 24-70mm f2.8 lenses. For some lighting variation, we chose a pair of Fiilex Q500 and two Aputure Light Storm LED Panel Lights.
With our juxtaposed array of excellent filming equipment and not-so-excellent office junk loaded into the car, we headed over to Mells Pit Works. A beautiful but freezing February morning meant that gloves and hats (Matt even had long johns) were the order of the day.
After preparing the set and giving Angus time for a few practice swings, we served up the first fax machine for its last hurrah. On a serious note, technique is crucial for avoiding injury when using a sledgehammer — any pre-existing back problems can be aggravated, so heed our warning!
We captured plenty of footage, as well as some brilliant pre, mid and post-action stills. Even though we were literally shivering by the end of the day, it had been an extremely fun and successful one. If you’d like to see more from the shoot and the preparations leading up to it, check out our BTS video below.