I’ll rewind to November 2018, even before we shot Episode 300 of Supernatural. The show/network threw a massive gala for the affair, the exceptional feat of three hundred episodes, an amount reached only by a handful of other productions. Now, it was to be a formal affair, and, as I always do for wrap parties, or work parties in general, I took this as an opportunity to pay homage to our show, and theme the dress I was to make. While the original plan at the beginning of the year was to strictly make it out of material used on the show, as I had done in previous years, I decided to be more specific in direct reflection of something symbolic to the show. And in this case, a place I call my home.
The Men of Letters Bunker is truly a spectacular set. Not only is the architecture astounding with the immense size of the structure taking up most of the stage, but it is the refined detail adorning its entirety which makes the signature standing set remarkable. I feel at home in the Bunker, and while I cannot take it with me when the show ends, it will always be a part of me. Recognizing the Men of Letters significance was in part why I chose to add the designs of its windows and symbol into my dress.
By the time I had finished Jensen’s Red Hood, it left me with little time before the gala. However, with a plan in place, I had more than enough motivation to outweigh the shortage of time. First, I custom-designed the fabric to have printed for the skirt and bag. It’s an integrated pattern using the structure of the leaded windows separating the Library from the Crow’s Nest and the Men of Letters Logo, using colors selected directly from the set. I remember specifically having a different fabric in mind for the dress originally, but upon seeing the faux suede, I really didn’t want or need anything else. It was perfect, and I knew I could begin using it before my printed fabric arrived.
For those of you wondering, the dress is fully lined and boned, and surprisingly extremely comfortable! With washing and storage convenience in mind, I have the skirt snap into the dress, so they can come apart
The event was incredible, but I did not go under the assumption I would leave with photos of me in the finished dress. For that, I had other ideas in mind.
The Shoot in Waddell, Arizona – White Tank Mountains
I had exactly envisioned what I wanted for the shoot, and luckily with the help of dedicated individuals, the final result exceeded my expectations.
Since I live nowhere near Arizona, the original justification in that specific placement was the photographer – Ben Ammon. Ben and I have worked together countless times before, and so with such an established trust and cohesive work ethic already built, there was no one else I would rather have capture the vision than him. Since he had recently moved back to Arizona from where we normally worked together in Salem, Oregon, naturally, going there seemed like the most logical decision. Plus, since I had dreamt of the shoot set in a California sandscape, how convenient that Arizona is…well, a giant desert.
The next feat was going to be getting a replica of Baby, the signature Impala of Supernatural, into the mix. I had been following the Impala Charlie’s account for some time on social media, and when I was first looking for possible car applicants, it was so perfect that Charlie was in Arizona. It seemed like a match made in heaven, and was even more so when I began speaking to her owner, Jamie, who is not only an exceptionally delightful person, but is one willing to accommodate and work with my ideas. Jamie and I had never met, so it’s a lot to ask of a stranger. “Hey would you mind driving your car into the middle of nowhere?” seemed like a far-fetched acquisition, but she complied. I had of course given her the choice of location after we were to scout together, so she would feel comfortable getting the car to where we were to shoot, but that was a whole different hill to climb.
After arriving in Arizona, Ben, Jamie, her father Greg the car wrangler, her friend Rachel, and I all went looking for the perfect desert location. Not that one exists of course. While we spent the day searching through areas with large amounts of cacti that throw their arms if you get too close, and areas with too many overhead cables, we returned to our original location, with the understanding that Charlie would need to be put on a flatbed to get there. But even then it would not be easy. This path gave the Indiana Jones Ride at Disney a run for its money. Finding our chosen spot in the middle of nowhere with only headlights at four in the morning the next day was going to be a challenge, but when they say getting there is half the battle, in this case, it was most of it.
At 3:45, the two leading in the pickup towing Charlie set out, followed by the remaining five of us in an Escalade, and somehow with the help of just one Google pin and a golf ball even in the pitch black morning before dawn we found our spot. After parking Charlie in time for sunrise, our team was ready to go. A strategic reason for picking the spot was that mountain coverage would allot us three hours of shooting before the risk of direct sunlight, as opposed to a mere half hour to an hour. So we all settled in and got to work.
A huge thank you shoutout to everyone involved. Ben, Jamie, Rachel, Greg, Justine and Talli, you guys are all troopers. That was one awesome adventure. Ready for the next one?
Photo credits: Benjamin Ammon
Edit credits: Benjamin Ammon and Clockwork Shadow Creations
Video Footage: Justine Bruehler
Edit credit: Rachel Potter