The team behind ‘Impossible Shoes’ is Sam Fisher from Anomalous Visuals, art director Amaya Ducru Clouthier, model, artist and muse Sophie Morgan and myself, director Melodie Roulaud (who will be on OneSix7 production’s new roster of up and coming directors that will be launched in October 2012).
Art director Amaya Ducru Clouthier came to Sam Fisher from Anomalous Visuals with the initial spark and he brought the project together. Sam had worked with Sophie Morgan, our model and muse, in the past. They were interested in working on the dichotomy of shoes that are impossible to walk in, placed parallel to feet that are unable to walk. Together, they asked me to direct the film and develop the concept, as they liked my filmic universe and approach to fashion imagery.
I was thrilled to take part in this project, as the representation of the female body in fashion film is one of my greatest interests. Working with Sophie was an opportunity to work with a body that is different to mine and learn about its kinetics. It was a fascinating experience and it showed me the extent of my ignorance about her abilities. I quickly became very eager to create a film that would challenge the perception of disabilities in the same way as working with Sophie has challenged my own perception.
Sophie is very involved in fashion. She participated in the BBC’s ‘Britain’s Missing Top Model’ four years ago and created the Mannequal, a display mannequin designed to change how disability is represented on the high street (sophiemorgan.com). We interviewed her regarding her views on fashion, femininity and beauty, and how she experiences them daily. Amaya then composed her words into the poem that Sophie herself reads as the voice over. Jessica Dannheisser then wrote the beautiful and emotional score to complement the images and internal monologue.
In parallel, we carried out physical tests with Sophie; I needed her to teach me how her body functions in order to understand her abilities and create a storyboard that would explore them.
The film is about Sophie and how her voice as a woman can touch any other human being by its truthfulness; she is the inspiration and the motor of the film. However, we were not interested in making a literal documentary. We wanted to use the surrealistic language of fashion imagery as it placed fewer boundaries on our creativity. This enabled us to modulate the message in a much more seductive, aesthetically pleasing and subtle way. Furthermore it was crucial that this film made use of this language, as we want to promote diversity in this sector that, as we all know, is known for its very narrow spectrum of female body representation.
We made no use of special effects but did utilise stop-motion and other camera and editing tricks such as tilting the camera, reversing shots, etc. The concept was to show that, just like in life, everything is a matter of perception. Perception in life is filtered by the senses, but in film it’s filtered by the camera and editing (choice of angles, techniques, etc). By changing the way we filmed Sophie, her physical abilities rather than her physical disabilities became the focus.
The subtle pastel colour palette came from the idea of portraying Sophie in a feminine and delicate way, detracting from the darkness commonly associated with disability. Our aim was to break up social taboos and present an open-minded and inspirational take on what is commonly considered a weakness.
Director – Melodie Roulaud
Art Director – Amaya Ducru Clouthier
Director of Photography – Sam Fisher
Camera Operator – Oliver Lockhart-Matthews
Sound Design – Jessica Dannheiseser
Hair & Make Up – Aga Dobosz
Runners – Ben Bushell and Harrison Brooker