by Ken Walker, Journeyman Hair Stylist
Working on Loving was, put simply, history revisited.
Our director, Jeff Nichols, was truly the leader of the pack, assembling with the help of his producers, a crew that was incredibly special and dedicated to making his dream come to life on the big screen. Under his leadership, every department went the extra mile to make this beautiful true story come to life in the most authentic way imaginable. The principal actors as well as the everyday players, were professional and a joy to work with on set. The very talented Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga made it so easy to rise and shine every morning. Yes, there was a lot of love that went into the production of Loving.
We had some very distant locations to drive to at the start of every shooting day. The make-up artist, Julia Lallas, and I would alternate driving the first couple of weeks, but as much as we loved the project, we knew we could not continue to drive those distances for the duration. I spoke with production and they agreed to get one of the Teamsters by the name of Vondel Darden—a truly wonderful man who loved Julia and myself—to bring us to set on a daily basis. We were then able to relax and enjoy the gorgeous Virginia sunrises and sunsets without having to look out for deer, raccoons and opossums. We’d get to work rested and eager to start our day.
Richmond, Virginia, is a very lush and beautiful place to be, especially to shoot such a special movie like this one. There was rain practically every day, yet in spite of the weather, we got our job done. I’ll never forget how our trailer was filled with not just passion and determination, but also the rich aroma of the coffee that Julia would brew every morning. That coffee quickly became the first thing our actors went for as they got there. We had colorful mugs—no plastic or Styrofoam for us—and soon the whole crew were coming in every day for a hot cup of Julia’s coffee.
There was always lots of fun and laughter in the air as we would read the sides before the actors arrived, so that we would be familiar with the scenes that were being shot for the day. We would be careful to respect the atmosphere of the hair and make-up trailer, since the actors would run lines in there preparing for the day. We knew when to get still and let them go where they needed to in order to be prepared to do their jobs. You learn to follow the actor’s lead.
Everyone loved music and we made sure to have great songs on the ready. Each day was different and exciting, and Ruth and Joel were the best. Ruth is an incredible cook; every now and then, she’d invite some of us to her house for dinner. She enjoyed the process of preparing a lush and beautiful dinner for the crew. You could just feel the joy it brought her watching us enjoy what she prepared.
It may sound a bit redundant, but this production and crew were one of the best I’ve ever worked with—this was truly a labor of love. •