The film launches the website for Melbourne / UK designers Klezinski, how did the brief come about?
Klezinski and sound designer John Kassab asked me if I would be interested in using some of the camera techniques I had been developing in my art practice to make a fashion film. I appreciated Klezinski’s ethical stance on fashion (handcrafted, ethically sourced and bespoke) and having worked with John before I agreed to a collaboration.
The process was nice and low-key and that sense of freedom comes out in the piece.
What inspired the idea?
This project has its roots in a series of artworks that I have been making; whereby sculptures are used to create moving images. With this original piece I was looking to make art that revealed the playfulness in people. Often when we as adults engage in physical actions, particularly ones from our childhood, we find ourselves cast loose. I was interested in how photographers such as Philippe Halsman used these ideas and I was looking to see if I could explore something similar with the moving image. The film attempts to capture a portrait of somebody in that moment of joyous hypnosis. But I also wanted to design the film so that when I share it with the audience they will experience it too, through the dizzying effect and uncanny perspective.
With most of the works in this series the general public is able to interact physically with these (camera rig) sculptures, almost shooting the film themselves. The sculptures are designed so that they move in a prescribed orientation which means that the resulting recorded footage is able to be crafted into a seamless film. The films are then exhibited in the gallery as large scale projections alongside the sculptures that were used to create them.
The sound track is very effective – was this specially created?
As I mentioned earlier the sound artist John Kassab designed the audio. It is a really complex and cleanly executed design. It is entirely crafted without the use of location sound. John used a number of interesting mixing and audio acoustic techniques that he had been developing and I feel it’s really outstanding. He now lives in Hollywood, so we worked quite separately, but we had a shared understanding of the piece from the beginning so it worked really well despite the geography.
Did the end result turn out the way you originally perceived it – or better?
I would say it is precisely as I perceived it. Mainly because I had made a prototype of the sculpture almost two years earlier so I understood the visual element. (See this early prototype in Related Content).
My background is in animation and visual effects so comprehending how to technically achieve the idea comes easily for me. As this was a fashion film the onus is on the visual which benefits my skills as a director. But, I find aspects challenging that other filmmakers relish such as improvisation with actors. I guess when you work within your skills set the end result is usually pretty close to your original idea.
And what were the main challenges of the production?
This project was great as it didn’t have any real challenges. It was just an enjoyable process and I think that is reflected in both the performances and energy of the finished film.
Are you signed to a production company and have you been directing for aaages?
I live between Melbourne and London, but am currently in NYC as an artist in residence. I moved to London in 2008 after receiving a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art. RCA allowed me to push the reset button on my career. I made two graduating films instead of just one: Little Brother premiered at Sundance and Victoria, George, Edward and Thatcher premiered at Toronto Film festival. Which was a great launch back into the world after college.
Earlier, I had directed a bunch of music videos but they were from a time when I used my ideas to pay the rent, now I just pay less rent and use my ideas to make art;-) which seems to pay some of the bills currently.
I am not currently signed to a production company and don’t have gallery representation either. But I am launching a media production and investment company ardent film trust in April in the UK.
What has been the most important advice anyone has given you about film-making?
Hmm that’s an interesting one but I once had a piece of advice given to me from an older filmmaker, who I really respect, and it was like a creative exorcism. He said; don’t keep waking up worrying about your career. Just set yourself ten years to achieve your goals, work hard and follow your own path and then at the end of the tenth year, reflect. But don’t worry about it before that time. If you find then that you are unhappy, you simply change your career, live something different. I am currently in my fifth year of that plan and whenever I get anxious about the shady career path I seem to be embarking on I reflect on his notion.
Are you interested in making commercials, music videos or short films – where does your heart lie when it comes to making films?
When it comes to commercials I currently side with Bill Hicks. I was signed to an advertising production company in Australia and it was uninspiring. I also had a period when I obsessively made music videos. I look back at those two years and can’t help but feel exploited. It feels like I expended so much time, thought and energy into the promotion of music, people, ideas and products that I never felt strongly about.
I often look at an advert now and think; wow, that 30 seconds has probably involved nine months of phone conversations, sleepless nights, numerous script drafts amendments and dozens of people. It all just seems absurd to me yet if the right people presented the right idea I would certainly consider it particularly if it resonated with my current values.
But my heart is currently in art and feature filmmaking. I received a commission last year to write my first feature film. This has been a challenging, solitary but enjoyable process and I feel honoured to have the opportunity. So whilst I struggle away attempting to write I’ll continue making short narrative work, sculptures and art films.
What’s Plan A? And B?
Don’t currently have a Plan B, will think about that when my ten years are up.
Visuals: Callum Cooper
Audio: John Kassab