Last week Gerard Butler was on Leno and Jay picked up the copy of Men’s Journal that Jim Wright shot the cover and feature of him for and asked about the opening image. Gerard launched into a funny description of the shoot:
I’ve worked with Jim in the past so I shot him an email to get a little more background on the shoot. Also, I know Jim recently moved to NYC after many, many years living and working in LA, I also asked him about a strange phenomenon that seems perfectly normal when you live in NYC “flying photographers out to LA all the time.”
To be honest, I wasn’t the first choice for the shoot. Unfortunately, for him, the other photographer blew out his back and couldn’t make the journey to LA. The week before, I had shot the Bruce Willis cover so MJ came back to me and asked if I’d step in.
Gerard Butler’s publicist is an old friend of mine so the trust level was running high for the shoot. Myself and the crew met up with Gerry at a secluded house in Malibu and we went to town. Gerry was up for anything. We’re were aiming for the normal guy approach; trying to show various sides of his personality. Luckily,whatever challenge I threw out there, he literally dove right in. The ocean shots were a blast and a battle at the same time. I asked him, “If I go in; will you go in?” Gerry comes back with, “Follow me!”. We’re were onto something as this was the first shot of the day. Thank god that my one assistant, Sean Costello, stands about 6’6″ because he saved the camera every time. The guy whose camera that didn’t survive was the guy who was hired to shoot the B-roll. I had assistants watching the waves. He didn’t. Hence, no B-roll of the shoot. My two other assistants literally saved me from getting swept away.
We got the shots and headed up the beach and Gerry leans down and sticks his face in the sand and we just kept going until he was completely covered. Then back in the ocean, then to the hot tub. Which was needed because we were both freezing by that point. The hot tub was not a planned shot. But again, I threw it out there and we got some amazing underwater shots. Eyes open in hot water. I couldn’t believe it. At this point, I felt like I had the shoot in the bag and I hadn’t even done the cover image yet or brought out the three bikini models. Plus we hadn’t even broken for lunch yet.
I’d been in LA for about 18 years, working my way from PA to assisting some of the worlds greatest image makers of the last twenty years. Everyone from Herb Ritts to Michel Comte to Peggy Sirota whom I worked with exclusively for almost five years. She was a real mentor to me and gave me the confidence to do my own thing. My career has gone well, knock on wood, for the last 12 years. This past winter I moved to NYC to be with my girlfriend and near family. I switched agents as well to NYC based Bernstein & Andriulli, so most of my work was coming out of or based in NY. But as fate has it, once you move to one coast they want you on the other, so much of my time lately has been spent flying back and forth. Last month a three day trip turned into three weeks as people got word that I was in LA. I don’t mind it, I just wish someone can explain it to me