Category Archive: Me Myself & I

  1. The Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize

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    Charlie Brooker photographed in the boardroom at Faber & Faber, London, June 12th 2012

     

    I’m thrilled to have had my portrait of writer Charlie Brooker selected for the 2013 Taylor Wessing portrait prize show at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Of 5,410 photographs entered only 60 were chosen by the judges. The show will run at the NPG from 14 November 2013 until 9 February 2014.

    If you’d like to read the wider story behind the picture then here is a blog post I wrote about it last year.

  2. Things May Change But This Will Stay The Same/Teller Magazine

    Two or three years ago I made a small number of books from a series of photographs that I took over a six month period in 2001. I titled the series ‘Things May Change But This Will Stay the Same’. I don’t really know why I called it that, it just felt right. It’s strange how some things one does can be explained in an entirely considered way, while others are utterly beyond the reach of explanation and there is simply no point in stretching one more inch in their direction.

    The pictures themselves, I had forgotten all about them until I was re-organising my film and print archive after moving into a new studio in 2010. In a box was a handful of envelopes with negatives and contact sheets, all the pictures on them were of a girl I once knew with whom I had once fallen in love. I sat down on the floor right there and could not believe that I had let the memory of their existence slide to an outlying island of my mind. Immediately I could see the whole arc of my feelings towards her playing itself out in that slim collection, from beginning to end.

    I’m not going to tell the whole story of us, other than to say that she was working in the film lab I used when I first moved to New York in October 2000. The first few times I had been in there we never spoke but every time I came in I was hypnotised by her presence in the corner of the room as she sat at her bench cutting and filing processed film into clear negative sleeves for the contacting guys in the darkrooms to make contact sheets with. Writing this now I can hear Talking Heads’ ‘Once In A Lifetime’ playing in my head. That’s the only way to describe the effect she had on me. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. I was 32 and she was 22.

    I wrote some text to go with the series and printed up fifty copies. I gave one to Lucy Davies, a picture editor at The Daily Telegraph and she showed it to Ruby Russell and Katherine Hunt who produce a beautiful magazine called Teller. They asked if they could reproduce some of it. The series seems to have struck a chord with a lot of people and I instinctively understand that the reason is that it tells the story of what it looks like when you fall in love with someone and how this can sometimes tip over into an infatuation that doesn’t always lead to a place where there’s much oxygen.

    Below this picture is an extended version of the text that appears in Teller.

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    These photographs were taken a dozen years and two lifetimes ago. In America, different parts, through all the time zones, coast to coast. I am 44 now and married with two children, but not to the woman in these pictures.

    I look at them for the first time since I made them and don’t see the girl that’s in them anymore. It doesn’t matter what her name is because I’m looking at an ideal of how I wanted love to be and remain, of how I saw a woman when I fell in love with her. This is love for the first time, shell shocked, stunned wonder that this thing, this person, has been put here, on Earth, in front of me, in my lifetime and has the emphatic power to make the time in my days go quicker, slower or nowhere at all.

    November 2001. A bleak time, living in New York. Fumes, dust, death hanging around. It’s in the air and the bones of the citizens of the city that never sleeps, hiding in, hiding out. Looking at these photographs, it’s obvious they are shot with a melancholic and listless drift that at the time was not apparent. A sense that the girl in them has entered a state of inertia, numbed dumbness caused by that cornflower skied morning in the concrete jungle where dreams are made. Is she waiting for the remnants of those events to catch up and finish her off? Or is she passively hanging on for something new to carry her out of it?

    Only one way to address it. Get out and get on. Do the thing that made America what it is. Take to the road and find something new. A better picture somewhere else. Now I am seeing all this again for the first time in a long time and although some things may change, this will stay the same.

    To see more of the series on my website then go here.

    To buy a copy of Teller (issue 3) then go here.

     

    Teller-Mag-Cover

     

  3. The Way I Dress: Mr Andrew Weitz

    “Everyone’s so scared. Don’t be scared.”

    In this new short for Mr Porter, Hollywood talent agent, Andrew Weitz, takes pride in the fact that his more conservative colleagues make fun of his style and that this spurs him on to buy more of the things they are baffled by.

    A lot of people have asked me if this is the house where Cameron wrecked his dad’s Ferrari in ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’. I wish it was, I truly do.  Unfortunatlely, it is not.

  4. The Way I Dress: Mr Nick Waterhouse

     

    Mr Nick Waterhouse. Los Angeles, March 2013

    Mr Nick Waterhouse in a scene from his ‘The Way I Dress’ film.  Los Angeles, March 2013.  The film itself is at the bottom of this post.

    Los Angeles, March 2013

    “I’m interested in the classics, things that don’t go away and I’d say that extends to how I feel about music, how I feel about records and how I feel about books as well.”

    Los Angeles based musician Nick Waterhouse begins this short film for MrPorter.com by laying out his philosophy in one simple sentence. Clean living under difficult circumstances indeed.

    Nick’s album, ‘Time’s All Gone’ is a huge favourite of mine, a masterpiece of early 60s drenched R&B that has the feel, the sound and, above all, the vibe of that recording era. The record sounds like it was made by a bunch of real life human beings gathered in a room at the same time. A rare thing these days.

    This is the fourth series of films I have made for Mr Porter, the menswear partner of online fashion innovator Net-a-Porter.  It was also the first time we had shot any of them in Los Angeles. After three series in the often cramped and confined locations of London and New York, the wide open spaces and all encompassing light of southern California were a new muse to behold.

    My DoP for the three films we shot there was Joseph Aguirre who as well as being a great friend is also a cinematographer with work that I love.  We met because our wives grew up together, have become good friends and have often talked about all the film and photographic things that we have in common, so to finally work with Joe was a thrill.

    All the previous films I made for Mr Porter I had shot myself. The crews on these films are usually me and 2 or 3 assistants.  Not motion people but stills assistants who I have worked with a lot and who are as into working on and learning about motion as I much as I am but who are not massively experienced in that field.  I have learned that stills and motion are like the two circles of a Venn diagram. There are areas where they converge but each has it’s things that have absolutely nothing in common and discovering what they are tends to come thick and fast when you are on the shoot.

    In LA however, we had been given a better budget than before and this allowed us to hire some of Joe’s people.  So finally I had the use of a gaffer (responsible for the operation and placing of lighting), a key grip (provides camera & lighting support) , a DIT (Digital Imaging Technician) who does the job that used to be done by a clapper loader in the days of film, a camera assistant and a sound recordist.  Joe also scored us a set of fabulous 1970s Zeiss Super Speed prime lenses that flared beautifully when angled into the sun slightly.

    Joe Aguirre

    Joe Aguirre

    Having these resources cleared a space in my head to think properly about the film, whereas with the older films I had to be a gaffer, a grip, a DIT, a location manager and a whole load of other jobs before I could even think about being a ‘director’. It’s also good to know that these films are not scripted in any way.  I am making what is essentially a filmed portrait of someone each time.  These guys aren’t actors. They turn up with no idea of what to do and I have to make them feel comfortable and relaxed enough to go through the dressing process, something that we may only ever do in front of  someone we have a co-habitational  relationship with, half a dozen times or more in order to collect enough footage with which to cut a two and a half minute film.  Not having all the other paraphernalia to deal with was a relief of Mafeking proportions and allowed me to really just talk to the subject and get them feeling right.

    John Lautner's 'Harpel' house.

    John Lautner’s ‘Harpel’ house.

    I would explain to Joe how I saw it in big picture terms and then we would spend half an hour throwing ideas around regarding camera moves, angles, shooting through windows, where to come in and where to go wide. My general rule is that wide lenses are good for moving in and out and longer lenses are for side to side tracking movements. Even though I had a bigger budget than before it was still miniscule by any other professional standards. We had enough to splurge on one fancy piece of kit that could pull off some nice camera moves and Joe suggested we get a thing called a Dana dolly.  A dolly is a way to allow the camera to move in a given direction.  Traditionally, the most well known dolly is probably the one where the camera sits on a piece of railway track.  There are dozens of versions of this though, and the Dana is like 2 pieces of scaffold pole that can be on the floor, balanced on sandbags that sit atop apple boxes, fixed to C-Stands that straddle furniture so you could make the camera move over the top of a sofa, for instance.. Over the course of the three LA films we had it doing every conceivable trick, all in the service of the films.

    Additionally, I use the morning of the shoot to study the subject so that I know what direction to take the questions in when we sit down in a quiet area of the location to do the interview.  I later cut this into a monologue for the film’s soundtrack.  Typically, we talk for about half an hour. Initially I have my stalwart questions on matters of style that I begin with. When we have worked through those and the subject has begun to relax the conversation tends to become looser and more improvisational.  That’s when the good stuff comes.  The early part is the bones, the latter half is the meat. You need the bones on which to hang the meat.

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    For the Nick Waterhouse location we had the 1956 ‘Harpel’ house designed by John Lautner.  The house had undergone major alterations by some previous owners who, to all intents and purposes, wrecked it by adding on a second floor that was out of keeping with the architect’s original construction. Fortunately, current owner Mark Haddawy has completely stripped back and restored the house to it’s original form. With it’s glass walled living area and pool, the house, high up in the Hollywood Hills is the epitome of  the easy, breezy mid-century California lifestyle. And as I type this, John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ has magically been shuffled to the front of my computer’s playlist to complete the visual and aural mid-century aesthetic perfection in which to bathe.

    I have now made twenty of these films. I don’t know if we will do any more.  I feel that, really, I need to move the plot on from the part where the guy gets dressed, perhaps go and find out what happens to him when he leaves the house.  When I first had the idea for them it occurred that whenever we see someone dressing in a film it’s always there to act as a precursor to some yet to happen piece of anticipated action – I think of Richard Gere in ‘American Gigolo’ or any film in which our protagonist is going on a date and we need to see their nervousness/confidence before the big game. There must be some good John Cusack moments out there, surely?

    My idea was to flip the whole thing upside down and make it all about the dressing process, to the extent that everything outside of that moment becomes extraneous.  I wanted to go in on it, almost turn everything inside out and make some quiet, dignified studies of the way men prepare themselves for the day, much as Little Edie does in ‘Grey Gardens’.

    “This is the best outfit for the day.”

    As we have gone on, however, I have tried to bookend each film with something that tells us about these men. The two films that will follow this do that I think and I will post them as soon as Mr Porter releases them in the coming weeks.

    For me though, this series, the first in simple photographic studios against plain backdrops, the last in some of the hippest houses ever built,  has been an amazing and concentrated class in film making, story telling, moving a camera, understanding sound, delegating a crew and, most importantly, the art and craft of directing.  It’s still early, there is lots here that I am unhappy with, but I now feel confident that with a proper script I would bring a visual style as well as a narrative technique to it.  My biggest issue with these films was the sheer shortage of time in making them.  No prep time at all, a quick location scout maybe and then a dive straight in to how to handle the subject and make an often monotonous process viewable.

    I think the biggest problem photographers have in shifting from stills to motion is to stop themselves from making a series of beautifully composed and lit moving photographs.  We must remember that films are for story telling, not for freezing in time the perfectly lit moment of formal perfection, etc etc.  It is no secret to me why the best fashion films so far have been made by bona fide film directors, not photographers. As I said earlier when I brought up the Venn diagram thing, stills and motion are NOT the same. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that they are. The similarities end just after the light has passed through the lens.

  5. “This Is Your Time” – Football On A Hot Night In Texas

    Highland Park Scots stand for the American national anthem. Highland Park High School, Texas, Friday 7th September 2012

    Highland Park Scots stand for the American national anthem. Highland Park High School, Texas, Friday 7th September 2012

    “This is your time. Go get ‘em.

    Go on, go get ‘em, this is your time now

    This is it, your time, go on now……………………”

    What is happening here?

    As each player prepares to go on to the field of play a member of the Highland Park Scots coaching staff, a rotund, stocky man, makes a point of saying something inspirational to him. A short, quiet exhortation that implies timing, destiny and honour. These players are boys, seventeen, eighteen years old. Generally they do not acknowledge it but they know where they are and what this is. It’s everything they’ve wanted as far back as they can remember and for some of them these months will be the greatest of their lives. The future is not yet written.

    The girls that make up the Highland Park Belles Drill Team are getting something similar from an equally inspirational lady at the side of the pitch. Their faces are locked into a rictus of concentration. Their tights, American Tan to the last, glisten as the final, ethereal hues of the dusk succumb to the interrogatory clarity of the floodlights. This is Texas high school football. Us and them, over and over again. None of it is ambivalent, all of it is vital.

    What is happening here?

    Highland Park Belles

    Highland Park Belles

    Highland Park, Texas. It is the first Friday in September and all through the day the external temperature display inside the car has been relentlessly and malevolently defying gravity. It currently reads 108F. The air is torpid, inert and the only sound to be heard outside of the car is the sound of a uniquely American kind. It’s the drone of wealth and it comes in the form of over employed air conditioning units outside of each and every house on the block, reflecting back from the bone white concrete driveways. Across the street a blue and yellow sign is stuck into the lawn of the house there. “Belles Spaghetti Supper. This Friday 5-7pm. HPHS Cafeteria. Catered By Amore.”

    Take a spin in the car, if only to turn the dial on the A/C and keep out of the asphyxiative, lacerating furnace of the ambient air. In some other countries it would only ever be possible to experience this atmosphere sitting inside a pine cabin, naked. The grass that lines the front lawns and pavements of Highland Park is that shade of green from 80s teen movies, where 15 year old boys ride bikes in quiet, wide streets looking for Ally Sheedy. Well fed, healthy, comfortable, confident and lush, resting on the hammock of infinitely long hosepipes.

    The Highland Park Soda Fountain, one hundred years old, is doing cool and intense business. Nineteen bar stools line the counter. Find one and wait your turn. The Lime Freeze looks like the only game in town, the oasis in the desert. The glass door has a poster on it with head shots of all of this season’s Highland Park Cheerleaders and Scotsmen. These are different to the Belles. The Belles are more acrobatic and perform a show at halftime. The Cheerleaders are pictured in a sort of triangle with a caption underneath that says ‘KEEPING UP THE SPIRIT’. Beneath the Cheerleaders are head shots of the five Scotsmen. Their role is uncertain. There is also a separate shot of them atop the horizontal bar of a football goal. There is a sponsor logo at the bottom of the poster too. Being involved is mandatory here. To not be involved might be a bad thing. Perhaps it would be best to go back and get involved.

    The pre-game spaghetti supper is a thousand square feet of systematic and efficient, production line involvement. The five dollar dinner is the fly on the line. The school hall is a grid system of long trestle tables carpeted in auction items, donated by parents, local businesses and other concerned parties. These are not small items. There’s some big ticket stuff here. A week long spa trip to a Colorado desert retreat, a day at the Texas State Capitol as a guest of a member of the House of Representatives, high end loot worth bidding on. The hustle in here is a microcosm of America’s unique ability to be individually entrepreneurial, yet it’s in the service of the group. It’s a sort of American socialism. Over here it might have been called The Big Society, until that initiative died an oxygen starved death from lack of Big Government funding. What drives this though, is the unspoken responsibility placed on the shoulders of all who live in the shadow of the team, the town and the school to be involved. The closeness of the community, in terms of social standing and reputation is highly observed. The Highland Park Scots are the hive and the citizens of the township are the bees bringing in the pollen. What use is an unproductive bee?

    Mums sport football jerseys and badges with pictures of the players or the cheerleaders. There’s a queue to have the team logo stencilled on a cheek. ‘Scots’ on one side, ‘Belles’ on the other.

    Game time. The opponents are from Monterrey, Mexico which means that the crowd, only halfway full, politely endure the playing of the Mexican national anthem. Three boys in the crowd strip off their shirts to reveal ‘U’, ‘S’ and ‘A’ painted on to their chests in red, white and blue. They are standing in the wrong order though, so it reads ‘AUS’. Someone tuts and points this out. They quickly realign themselves. A Scotsman, standing nearby, apologises for this infliction of overt nationalism.

    The boys’ posturing goes wasted. The Mexicans have fielded a lowly fan base for the game, possibly only a crowd of one on their side of the pitch. It’s hard to tell but it may just be a local kid who’s snuck into the away end in a gesture of defiance. He was too high up in the stands to go and ask. Down at one of their corners a lone cop stands watching the action, big gun on his hip. From here, looking across to the home side of the field it’s obvious that the industriousness doesn’t stop when the game starts. A stream of people are filing in, carrying and wearing merchandise from the team shop beneath the stands.

    A third of the way through the game and the home side of the stadium is almost full. Most of Highland Park could well be in here. The cops, ambulance and fire officials mingle amongst themselves down in one corner of the field. Along the sideline the players who are not currently on the field of play spend most of the time on their feet watching, exhorting, willing it to go right. The big digital clock on the scoreboard stops and starts in defiance of real life with a regularity that is hypnotic.

    Highland_Park_Football_0890

    Various team coaches draw up plays on portable white boards. They wear the uniform of white, middle America: khakis, white polo shirts, sneakers. They are gruff, confident and look like they get to eat well for it. The relevant team members fan around them and give the impression of listening intently. They look like they are really listening. Head coach, Randy Allen, wearing a shirt, tie and panama hat paces the line with a clipboard in hand, pen in his shirt pocket. Coach Allen signs off all his emails ‘Go Scots!’

    The players fit all the stereotypes. Nothing is missing. Have these kids actually evolved to be mirror images of the characters in every high school and college movie ever – Grease, Animal House, Revenge Of The Nerds, Porkies, American Pie – or were they always like this? One kid is so like the quintessential changing room towel flicker, so like Biff Tannen, that he is scarcely believable as a fictional character, let alone an actual real life flesh and blood one standing here tonight. He must weigh 280 pounds and his knees look wrecked already.

    The Scots put the pressure on and Monterrey quickly fall behind. The lead is too comfortable. The cheerleaders, sitting it out on the side are a line of ponytailed princesses, banded up high and tight, teen imprints of their mothers, checking their Facebook pages on their iPhones. The band, sitting in the bleachers, strike up. The band leader, an earnest girl in white cotton gloves on a podium at the front, fixes her eyes absolutely on the musicians as her arms strain. Every muscle in her arms gives rise to the belief that in her head she is trying to control an excitable muscular dog on a tight leash.

    My host leans in to my ear, “You know, John Hinckley, who tried to assassinate President Reagan, is an alumni of this establishment.”

    This is a micro society maintaining it’s place in the order of things. The support system that holds the team up and generates the resources for it to be viable is self determination at work. It is competitive on every level you can possibly imagine, within itself, as well as in its attitudes to those it is up against. It’s uniquely American, it’s how individuals bring their express individual attributes to the situation and leverage them for the benefit of the team, the school and the town, as well as their own personal standing within those places. To not commit in the fullest way would indeed be a bad thing.

    The band, maybe forty strong and not big in the context of Texas high school football teams, come on for their role in the halftime show. It’s time for their big idea. My host drops a hint.

    “They have been waking me up every morning at 5.55am all summer with their rehearsal of ‘Kashmir’ by Led Zeppelin. It’s pretty damn sweet.”

    What follows is deeper and wider than ‘Kashmir’ though, because it is actually a mashup of ‘Kashmir’ and the music of Benjamin Britten. It is truly imaginative, clever and entertaining. This is what I mean when I say it is competitive on every level. Even the band have got serious game. They’re not just here to give the kids who can’t run a chance to be included. They kill it with some outrageous sizzle. Weeks and weeks of motivating sixteen year old kids to rise in the summer dawn and go out on to a barely cooled patch of redundant car park tarmac to go through the mad idea of a faraway, dead English composer mixed in with a long defunct English rock band, over and over again. For the excellence of the group, so they can be better than the other lot, who in this case haven’t even brought a band with them. Us and them, over and over again. This is not just about winning on the field. This is about self, self regard, the group, motivation, pride, relationships, reliability, honour, work and just being really, really good at the thing they’ve chosen.

    Year in, year out, a place like this, a scene like this is where America renews itself. This is what’s happening here.

    Post game prayer

    Post game prayer

  6. Once In A Lifetime

    The Birth Of Belle - 8th October 2008

    The Birth Of Belle – 8th October 2008

     

  7. Clyde Biggins: The Legend Of BBQ

    Clyde Biggins. Dallas, Texas, September 8th 2012

    I was down in Dallas in September 2012 to photograph a story on high school football and was staying with an old friend who lives there. He and I both like to take the opportunity to enjoy high quality meats whenever the chance presents itself. The American South, of course, is the place to explore what the meats are capable of giving when cooked on a barbecue pit. Each state has its own methods and techniques and, I’m sure, if you want to get really picky you can find those who believe it varies dramatically from county to county too.

    A few days before my arrival, my friend, Trent, sent me an email with a link to a post on the Texas BBQ Posse blog, strap line, “In search of the greatest smoked meats in the greatest state in the union.”

    Gary Jacobson, who wrote the post, began by explaining that he had recently been the recipient of a letter from a man by the name of Clyde Biggins. Clyde claimed that he had once been the owner of “Clyde’s Old Fashion Hickory Smoked Barbecue” on Westmoreland Road in Dallas.

    In 1993 he had been convicted for his part in a conspiracy involving illegal drugs, was convicted and now almost at the end of an eighteen year term in a federal prison.

    The piece went on to explain how Clyde was looking to get back on his feet when released and could the members of the Posse do anything to help in that regard. You can read the full text at the link below. It’s a great read and is a story that contains the mouth watering seeds of the possibilities of redemption.

    http://texasbbqposse.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/clyde-is-back-cooking-some-of-best-bbq.html

    To cut a long story short, Clyde has been unable to secure the food licences that would allow him to once again set up shop in Texas. To get around this he has put together a mobile rolling barbecue and positioned it in his front yard. Food is free but diners are encouraged to leave a tip. He invited the Posse over to try his cooking and Posse member Jim Rossman revealed, “Clyde’s the real deal. The meal I had would easily rank him in the top 5 among Dallas-Fort Worth BBQ joints, plus he has a great personality. That’s a winning combination.”

    “Watching Clyde work that pit was like watching a great conductor lead a symphony,” Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins said. “No thermometers, gauges or gimmicks. It was old school cooking by feel alone.”

    Clyde was reluctant to allow the members of the Posse to reveal his address on their blog, for fear of being shut down by local officials, despite the fact that two Dallas cops stopped by that afternoon to pick up some takeaway, so there was no way to locate him.

    After reading the story I sent back a reply to Trent: “Your mission? Find Clyde.”

    In the lead up to my arrival Trent reported back regularly with the news. No dice every time. All through my stay the backdrop to the hundred and five degree heat was the hunt for Clyde. Still nothing until, on my last full day in Dallas, Clyde joined Facebook. Trent sent him a message with his phone number and within five minutes Clyde had called back with an invite to come on over and “sample some meats”.

    I didn’t go over there with the intention of doing any filming but I took my camera anyway, mainly in case I got the chance to do a portrait of him or something. When we got there, the mid afternoon sun was beating down but in the shade of some big, heavy trees everything just seemed so much more mellow and amenable. We sat down on some chairs in front of his pit while the smell of pecan smoked meats drifted on around and he was more than happy to tell us his story. So, I had to use what I had and I shot this short handheld with one 8gb memory card and interviewed him with the voice memo app on my iPhone. Someday I’d like to go back there with a jib, a dolly and a crew worthy of the subject.

    If you’re ever in the Dallas area make sure you take some time out to find Clyde. He really is the real deal. In the meantime, this short film might give you a flavour of how good his food tastes.

  8. The Way I Dress: Mr Santa Claus

    As the public face of an iconic brand, Mr Santa Claus needs to send a consistent visual message to potential customers. In this exclusive interview he allows us a glimpse of the extraordinary wardrobe he keeps in his contemporary home, reveals that he believes he works in the creative industries, rather than the retail sector, and shows off a previously unseen tattoo.

    Mr Claus made his name with his pioneering business model, which sees his organisation give away a vast number of children’s gifts each year, to publicise its bestselling range of Christmas merchandise. Between his ranges of cards, sweets, toys and decorations, not to mention the licensing of his image for adverts, and his employment agency, which supplies stores all over the world with look-a-likes, Mr Claus’ trademark appearance is big business. No wonder he puts so much time, and investment, into his remarkable visual identity.

    Asked during filming about his plans for 2013 Mr Claus mentioned the fortnight he takes each January to recover from the Christmas rush – he likes the Amandari hotel in Bali – and the annual February awayday he organises for his team to brainstorm ideas for the year ahead. However, Mr Claus wouldn’t comment on recent speculation in the financial press that he’s considering taking on the confectionary industry with a new Easter project, although his reticence may be due to his recent run-in with the regulatory authorities over monopoly issues.

    Directed by Chris Floyd
    Art Direction by Jacopo ‘Jay’ Maria Cinti
    Text by Mansel Fletcher

  9. Bedroom Eyes: A Short Film About Eyelashes

    Back in the summer, when the days were all that stood between us and the horizon, the pollen lingered wistfully in the beams that sliced through the blinds and the ringing of the schoolyard bell was still far enough away to echo only momentarily before drifting and dying in the buzz of the lawnmowers outside, a group of us stood in a languid London bedroom to make a short film about eyelashes.

    Nina and Max the founders of London make-up brand, Eyeko, had asked Kay Montano and I to create something for them that would allow people to see just how good their products are.  As well as being a great friend, Kay is one of the finest make-up artists in the whole wide world.

    We all stood in that bedroom and as the afternoon light gathered about us I turned to Kay, nodded at our model, Jess, and said, “Only one road to go down on a day like today, with a girl like that, in a room like this. It’s got to be Marilyn.”

    ‘Marilyn in Bed’ at the Bel Air Hotel by Bert Stern, 1962.

    No one really needed to say much more. As Kay put it herself on her blog, “we trusted in the osmosis of a lifetime of iconic films and beauty icons in the forefront of our nerdy minds to guide us.”

    The music is ‘Again’ by  Tamara Schlesinger and was suggested by my ever patient editor, Dani Jacobs.  Having Dani on my side is one reason why I love making films.  The opportunities to collaborate and allow others to add value are endless, as long as you are prepared to leave your ego at the door and welcome them in to the process as equals.

  10. The Way I Dress: Mr Joshua Kissi

    Straight out of The Bronx, New York, Joshua Kissi, who can often be found on Instagram posting up his late night bike rides through the city that never sleeps, is one half of influential style blog, Street Etiquette. On the subject of to roll or not roll up his trousers he says, ” I roll up everything, some people make fun of it, some people don’t like it but, hey, it’s your personal taste.” And his personal style, “Sometimes Afro-dandyism, sometimes mod, sometimes punk, a touch of prep, a touch Americana, colours, patterns, silhouettes, jewellery…….it’s an amalgamation of everything I’m interested in. My style is just style. I wouldn’t put it in a category.”

    Filmed om location in Brooklyn, New York, September 2012