Like David Bowie in the late 70s, photographer and filmmaker Matt Lambert is having his Berlin moment. Using the city where he now resides as a backdrop, his work is fuelled by an ongoing fascination with youth culture, adolescent identity and intimacy. At times, he draws upon social and political issues, using it to cast his own vision of contemporary society.
To coincide with the launch of London Collections: Men later this week, we exclusively present a new work by the Berlin-based filmmaker, styled by Dazed contributor Harry Lambert. Created in collaboration with the British Fashion Council for the official LC:M film, Matt Lambert offers unscripted and intimate portraits of young British men and their personal relationships with style. Here, the filmmaker offers his thoughts on the ongoing concerns of fashion film:
"Until recently, fashion film as a genre has been one of the most disappointing things to happen during the rapid evolution of video. Ever slowly, the commissioning process is becoming a bit smarter and people are realising most photographers are not filmmakers. They're also realising there is a level of creative and financial commitment required to create a strong piece if you want to avoid creating something that falls into the realm of a moving lookbook or show visuals.
I'm not interested in making films about fashion, but rather finding ways to elevate fashion with narrative or vice-versa.
Though I'm a huge fan of certain aspects of fashion, fashion film is relatively new to me. I'm not interested in making films about fashion, but rather, finding ways to elevate fashion with narrative or vice-versa. This film for the BFC is not a structurally advanced piece of narrative film, there are nuances in it that can be found in a lot of my film work. No matter how vague it is, there still is a story.
Despite working with models, the film is completely unscripted and the characters play themselves. The process began from the first castings and into fittings where we recorded audio interviews and built loose narratives around the characters we carved out. We attempted to create three unique, but relatable, characters through this discovery to capture the vast range of designers represented in the film (Agi & Sam, Burberry, Hardy Amies, Jonathan Saunders, Martine Rose, Richard James, Sibling, Topman and YMC) while not making them feel over-styled and out of their own skin.
Characters need to be treated like what they are: characters! Working with models is one thing for print and another for film. Casting based on personality, presence in motion and an understanding of what the project aims to accomplish is everything!
For me audio, specifically score and sound design are also crucial storytelling tools that I rely heavily on when working on projects that live in a space of visual ambiguity or abstraction. Often a missed opportunity, so much subtext can be added to an image with sound design. Shooting a lot of photography myself, there is also a different level of creative and technical collaboration that happens with film projects. Understanding the roles of your collaborators and that a film is a complete collaboration and not an oligarchical process is the way to push your idea forward. Saying all this, I'm quite excited to continue to explore fashion film as a medium and bring so many of the characters I've been developing as a filmmaker to life in conversation with fashion."
In the run up to the beginning of London Collections: Men later this week, we will be presenting a series of new films on London’s emerging designers. In association with the BFC, Dazed has commissioned three new films – each of which will be screened during an event on Sunday 16th June at the Hospital Club alongside a film for River Island and the official LC:M film by Matt Lambert.