Initial Project Research

In the previous module of creative research, I began to investigate the areas of fashion film and film in general.  This research took me into view of various directors which include the likes of David Lynch, Harmony Korine, Ruth Hogben, Stanley Kubrick and many more. In the initial statement of intent, I had already addressed key elements I would like to explore and work towards in the production of my final films. The key elements included conceptual narrative, streaming of consciousness and most importantly a strong presence of colour.

As a part of the first research module I decided to visualise and investigate my dissertation further, in which I had looked into the Lady Dior Handbag series and their approach to marketing and product placement. In the series I was attracted to the idea of the films allocating a colour to a location and a featured handbag. In my final films I want to use a similar strategy to this and feature a key colour within each of the films through the placement of product, styling and setting.

Brand choosing and research

In the focus of this project, I have chosen to work with/ draw from a fashion brand called Fortie Label. The choice for this brand was made based on its size, style and the room for promotional material. Fortie Label flaunts character, empowerment and style which are visible throughout all of their pieces and it is the originality and creativity of their garments that draws so much attention.

Having done in-depth brand analysis and research that focuses on their social media presence, existing films and imagery I found that as a new brand it seeks a harder push regarding its social media presence. Although the brand had one existing fashion film, it was quite simple and only demonstrated one of their looks. Upon this point I decided to produce a series of three fashion films intended for their Instagram which would enhance the brand’s innovation as well as reaching their young and media engaged audience. The Fortie Label brand is new and creative therefore I feel that it needs to consider its message and audience more; it needs to show that it is creative in communicating the brand well as its designs.

In further research of the brand, I came to find that it had been inspired by the historic, London based female gang ‘The Forty Elephants’. As a new brand, I feel that it needs to display aesthetic and to continue to draw from its core inspiration in order to preserve its intended image. Following this I decided to investigate the Forty Elephants deeper to understand the qualities, key elements, motives of the subject that inspired the brand.

With this research I considered the three films and how I can use the topic of The Forty elephants to communicate the brand and garments via fashion film. I came to identify key personalities within the Forty Elephants and their motives as a gang, it has been about understanding the things they did and how they responded to their environment. Alice Diamond, Maggie Hill and Florrie Holmes were the three key personalities which stood out to me based on their roles and actions within the gang.

Finding Narrative and Concept

Alice Diamond was the queen of the Forty Elephants; she masterminded all of the schemes, robberies and ran the gang most efficiently in its running records. Alice Diamond represented a woman of strength and motive which is reflected in the confident and prominent designs of Fortie Label.

Florrie Holmes was also an active member of the gang, she was the girlfriend of a London villain and followed his steps into crime. One of the gang’s signature actions was their use of the female power, they are said to have seduced rich men and then blackmail them for money.

Maggie Hill was the side kick of Alice Diamond, she was also an important character and maintained a strong role within the gang. The tales tell of an incident where Maggie completed a robbery at a diamond store which then resulted in her running directly into the arms of a police man.

Regarding the narrative and concept, I found the key elements and personalities that I can reference within the films, a subject that touches into the brand’s core inspiration. This gives the films their story and purpose however going forward I needed to develop a visual translation of the film ideas.

Visual Inspirations

In the previous module I spent a lot of time watching films by classic film makers and independent films in order to get a better understanding of film composition and visuals. Having done research as such I needed to gain better understanding of the overall look I was hoping to achieve visually. For these films I have looked at a number of artists and photographers to source visual inspiration. I the body of research I have drawn from the likes of Nadia Lee Cohen, Addy Campbell and  Martin Parr as the main inspirations for colour use and set design. From the beginning of the project colour has been the key element of these films however the narrative and set design has developed over time.

In the films I mainly draw from Nadia Lee Cohen. From investigating her film and photography work, I have am highly drawn to her images as a whole. It is about how she has used the setting, how the placement of models and how the styling compliments it all. In the development of the film story boards, I have used imagery by Nadia Lee as it is the main base of inspiration for the films.

Applying colour strategy

In the progress of planning the films I have had to consider the overall look between all of the films. As a series, all three films must be similar in look and style in order to display a level of consistency regarding style and composition. This was firstly achieved by development of mood boards that captured the essence of the films, their colouring and how as single images they link into one another. The plan for the films has been to visually create an infinite colour flow from the first film right through to the last and back into the first. This is illustrated in the colour strategy diagram I developed to visually show how the use of colours flows from one film to the other.

This is a strategy I have taken from the likes of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Nonagon Infinity album. Nonagon infinity demonstrates the same circular infinite loop as the chords and beat of the last song link perfectly back to the first song of the track.

Model scouting

Model scouting was another task I was faced with, in this I had to consider the brand that the films are intended for and to ensure that the faces I have chosen suit perfectly with the intended brand Fortie Label. Having done research on the brand, I realise that majority of the models used are black females. This is something I kept in mind during model scouting. During the process of scouting models I referred back to the Polaroid exhibition by Wim Wenders and used a Polaroid camera to capture an image of the models. This allowed me to have a solid still of the models that I could refer back to, it also allowed me to visually move their image around to compare with the mood boards to ensure they got allocated the correct film role.

Making the clothes

Quite early into the project I had selected the brand that I would have liked to work and develop these films for which was Fortie Label. In order to get them on board with the collaboration I had contacted the brand via Mailchimp which allowed me to send out a visually creative email that would stand out to them. However having contacted the brand I did not receive any response which left me with little time to try and keep persuade them to agree. The only option I had left was to style the films in a similar way to the brand so that I was able to demonstrate my vision of their clothing within the planned setting. The Fortie Label style is very unique and outstanding which was the sole reason for choosing this brand. With no ability to buy or style clothes similar to theirs I had only the option to create my own clothes based on their pieces.

For the Queen film I redesigned the light off-the-shoulder bustier dress as seen in the season one collection. This I recreated using the same silky fabric however I decided to use purple fabric instead, this was to allow myself space for personal touch. The shoes that are placed with this outfit had again been customised with diamond strips to tie the shoes into a full look with the diamond dressed bustier dress.

For the Seduction film I focused on another outfit from season one which involves a yellow velvet bustling top with a jacket. I drew inspiration from this design and decided to make it into a one piece suit that maintained the baggy sleeve look that the jacket had added onto it. The colour scheme was kept the same for this design as the design itself had been implemented.

For the Caught Out film I recreated their statement ‘Jailbird’ bodysuit. This I found to be one of the most interesting pieces they had and so I decided to recreate the design but in another colour. I really liked the idea of the suit being called ‘Jailbird bodysuit’ as this outfit was planned for the caught out film which features the arrest of Maggie Hill. The design of the bodysuit was kept very similar to the original but was made using mint blue and baby pink fabric opposed to the strong yellow and punching reds as seen in the original. The inspiration of the Yellow suit is shown in the choice of the buttercup yellow background of the film.

Set design and prop selection

The set design had been highlighted and loosely planned through the development of mood boards. This was to give me an idea of what I want to set up and how I want it to look. For The Queen film I had drawn from Nadia Lee Cohen’s video After the Storm for Kali Uchis. This video made great use of artificial grass and therefore I decided that would be an effective prop to use. However I was not planning on setting up a realistic outside design and therefore contrasted the set with a strong red background as it would be strong enough to balance with the textured green grass. The props are also inspired by the furry slipper photo series done by Nadia Lee Cohen. I really liked the idea of scattered props on the floor space and used that same setup with relevant props to the film. The props include diamonds, nail polishes, cigarettes, cigarette boxes, dollars, Polly filler, books, notepads, pens, ashtray and a telephone.

The seduction set up works around pink shimmer curtains with a red floor, this all contrasted by golden velvet styling. The setup of this was to give a club/burlesque type of venue space. The idea of the shimmer curtain is inspired by the Tequila film by Nadia Lee Cohen in which a wall of multi-coloured shimmer curtains was used as the main background. The props for this film is very much the same as the props for The queen, this is done so that there are common links throughout the setting and with each character being a part of the same Elephants gang, the characters all share the same  motives. The use of the red floor that contrasts the pink curtain allows the setting to get some depth and create a space opposed to an infinite background which takes away all aspects of space.

For the Caught Out film, the mood board focused on an infinite yellow setting. In this the key props such as Diamonds, cigarettes and money are featured. In this film however the telephone and mugshot board are the key prop as the narrative circulates around the arrest of Maggie Hill. The telephone used here is a rich yellow colour that fits within the colour scheme of the background. The mugshot board contains direct links to the Forty Elephants, it states Elephant DP which locates the arrest within the Elephant and Castle district. The reference number for this is 4040 which gives an even more obvious hint to what the film references as well as the text of M.Hill and Robbery which points out exactly the person it focuses on and their crime. Of all films, the props within Caught out are the most obvious as to what they relate to. With it being the last film of the series it keeps a level of mystery throughout the series until the showing of the last film which reveals all the questions much like the construction of David Lynch’s films.