‘Talk Early and Never Stop Listening’ - How to Get Fashion Films Right in Post
In the last three years, I’ve edited and overseen numerous films for fashion and luxury brands through our boutique post house OKAY STUDIO. We’ve been commissioned to provide editing, grading and finishing services for brands like Louis Vuitton, Topman, Stella McCartney, Chanel, Sonia Rykiel and Hermès.
Working with these clients is always a thrill. They attract fantastic talent, have great products and ideas for promoting them and are used to creating beautiful images.
And they’re making lots of them, across all kinds of screens. Fashion and luxury brands love everything from Instagram to cinema advertising and in fact their films probably spread across the widest variety of screens of any clients.
When we first delivered a project for LVMH the same pieces needed to appear on portrait-shaped moving billboards ranging from A4 to 20 metres high, four-screen landscape panels above baggage reclaim, Instagram, YouTube, cinema and TV. We cut and delivered for everything from Korean subway displays to art-gallery projections in Texas.
A few years ago, that was an exception. Today it’s the norm. To have the client’s films looking beautiful across all these formats, and more importantly have them tell their story best in all contexts, you need creative and technically skilled editors on both off- and online ends of the process. And make sure your workflow allows for a really large number of versions.
This variety extends to the creative work itself. Despite having been around for a while, fashion films and their derivatives retain an amazing degree of experimentation and playfulness. Working alongside artists like Juergen Teller or Gosha Rubchinskiy is to be surrounded by a whirlwind of ideas, and they’re often able to be less constrained in their methods and vision than directors who are advertising more traditional retail products. If you’re willing to leave some of the rules at the door and just go with it, then above all this can be really good fun - and it leads to some surprising and striking films.
The brands and the artists big fashion brands work with are adjusting to the brave new world of mass content creation but things have moved fast. Directors are often photographers by trade. This brings fresh creative angles but it’s important to work alongside the client in what can be a more deliberate workflow than many are used to.
Four ground rules:
1. Be honest and upfront about the process before
2. Always explain what you do
3. Keep an open mind, at any stage of the project
4. Get involved as early as possible - ideally pre-shoot. The final film always profits
As we’ve extended our finishing offer at OKAY STUDIO into motion retouch the last point has become even more vital - in particular when doing fashion film alongside stills. Nowhere else are ‘looks’ more prized. But when doing 25, 50, 200 frames per second, classical retouching becomes a whole different animal, and a smudge on a floor or a blemish on a model’s cheek can have vicious budgetary and scheduling impacts. More often than not, creative falls by the wayside. Again, talk early, talk often. Pitfalls can be avoided and the talent can focus on what they do best.
In the end it’s about supporting and augmenting the creative vision of all artists involved. With a bit of hand holding, firm technical know-how, bold creative ideas, and an attitude of positivity this kind of work is among the most rewarding you can do. That moment when you look at the final play-out together with the whole team and you all know that the brief has been smashed beyond all expectations is the reason we do this job.
Nikolaj Belzer is senior editor and head of post at OKAY STUDIO