Fashion brand Charli Cohen and viral hula hooper Eshna Kutty have just rolled out a dynamic campaign, from Great Guns director Karel van Bellingen.
The film is set in a bare building, light streaming in through rows of windows against which Eshna is silhouetted, clad in Charli Cohen. As the music kicks in, she begins to dance with impressive command over a blue LED hoop, her vibrant energy defying the emptiness around her. The fluidity of her movements are matched only by the spinning and swerving of the camera, transforming the viewer into a part of the action.
Director Karel initially met Eshna years back in Mumbai, quickly discovering they shared a creative vision. As she recently toured internationally, the pair were finally able to coordinate and collaborate for Charli Cohen, finding Eshna’s energy to be the perfect compliment to the cool and confident brand. Working direct-to-brand alongside in-house creatives, Karel was afforded the freedom to pursue his idea and handle directing, editing, and music.
Karel chose to set the film within a vast, decaying building, wanting to establish a contrast between the futurism of Charli Cohen activewear, LED hoops, and Eshna’s dancing, and the cavernous environment surrounding them. It needed to strike the balance between being spacious, to allow room for the dance, and oppressive, looming over Eshna. The opposition lends sole focus to Eshna while also transforming her dance into an escape from its darkness, filling it with an energy and joy that can scarcely be contained.
Taking a multidisciplinary approach, Karel also composed the music for the campaign, playing it for Eshna in advance to give her a feel for the desired vibe. She then showcased her repertoire of motion so the team could decide what moves were possible and could work well, without constraining the performance with set choreography or too many rehearsals.
Instead, Eshna was given the freedom to move intuitively in reaction to the music.
To match the dynamism of the dance, Karel envisioned a collage of varying shot sizes and levels of camera movement. The team opted for a combination of wide lenses up close to maintain a sense of swirling around Eshna, as well as a long lens to capture the details of her face and the branding. The film also features the occasional shot with a voyeuristic feel, with the effect of witnessing a solitary individual in their own headspace, playful and unrestrained. With a diverse range of coverage to choose from, Karel was then able to piece together a cohesive sequence during the edit in a free flowing way, continuing to tweak the music as he went.
Director Karel van Bellingen comments: “Eshna and I met by chance a few years ago while I was shooting in India - before she went massively viral. She’s full of charisma, and easygoing while being so obviously talented. We took no time at all to align creatively and get excited about doing something together. It was a joy to finally bring that to fruition with a great brand like Charli Cohen.”
He adds: “It was fun to take complete control and speak directly from my mind through different creative avenues at once. The multidisciplinary approach was similar to the one I took for Diana Olifirova’s ‘Intrance’ for Panasonic, which I edited and contributed to the music for as well. Both involved capturing a whole collection of shots which we then constructed meaning out of in the edit. Although my background is predominantly in narrative and more structured storytelling, I’m enjoying this approach these days. It feels very intrinsically cinematic.”