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AMCK Models have used the raw unease and graininess of the banned, early 90s Calvin Klein ads in a new film project showcasing their beautiful tongue-tied boys. The brainchild of filmmaker Jason Bradbury and Patrick Egbon-Marshall of AMCK, The Casting exposes the interrogation and judgement that models are put under during go-sees, taken to cinematic extreme. i-D online turned the tables and put Jason and Patrick in the hot seat to talk about their film, narrative, intention and interpretation.
How did the idea come about? The idea grew from the moment Patrick showed me the amazing banned Calvin Klein adverts from the mid nineties. I had seen them before but totally forgotten about them. What I loved about them was the undeniable feeling of authenticity. Patrick was keen to use the piece as a basis for the project, and I liked the idea of taking the premise and playing around with it. What I tried to do with the film was use it to provoke some thought on the fashion industry and the role of models within it. I hope that the key themes I wanted to explore like age, beauty, expiry and so on are subtly lodged in the viewers’ subconscious when the video is watched.
The Casting feels really cinematic for a fashion film, were you referencing any films or scenes in particular? My background is narrative fiction, mainly short films, so that’s generally the way I approach most projects I work on. I wanted to bring a cinematic feel to the very raw essence of the original CK ads. The sections of the boys making their way to the casting was an idea Patrick, the DP I work with Adam Scarth and I came up with to give the film more of a narrative feel and cinematic quality. We also felt that switching between the outside and the inside segments would deepen the dark mood of the film by bringing a foreboding feeling to the mix, that’s also why we used mixed media (old MiniDV camcorders and modern HD equipment) to create a feeling of unease in the viewer.
This one is for Patrick too, how do you think it feels to go to a casting? Is there an element of interrogation?
Patrick: I think a casting is a very emotional experience. When a model is new, it seems like the worst possible situation to be put in (no one likes to be judged) but as they become more experienced there are less nerves, more anxiety at the prospect of not making the cut. As a booker I always advise the boys not to dwell on a casting. Look your best, get there on time and get it over with. Once you leave the casting, leave it behind and whatever the results we deal with them together.
Jason, do you think fashion film works better with a narrative? For me it has to fit the project or the brand. As I said earlier, I tend to approach things in a narrative way because of my background, but in the end, if it doesn’t fit the brand or the collection then it’s not going to feel organic. There have been some amazing non-narrative fashion films, the work of Ruth Hogben or Chris Sweeney are good examples of mood or aesthetically driven pieces. So I think it would be unfair to say that fashion films always work better with narratives. I guess that’s what I get most excited about; when I get truly inspired by a collection or idea that a narrative begins to form. What’s also worth noting is that generally, I think that abstract narratives work well in fashion – when it can be read by different people in different ways. Fashion is an international industry so it becomes even more important to leave a film open to interpretation or translation into different cultures.
For full credits, see film.