On the brink

Somewhere between chaos and control lies Casey Brooks's and Tati Cotliar's new film

Set against the dystopian backdrop of an abandoned shipyard, model Magda Laguinge transforms in the post-apocalyptic world of Casey Brooks’s new film ‘Magda & Her Cup of Tea’. Styled by Tati Cotliar, the film is a surrealistic take on tea ceremony rituals and charts Magda’s neurotic quest for perfection. Premiering exclusively on Dazed, here Brooks and Cotliar reveal the references behind the project and share a unique behind the scenes film.

Dazed Digital: How did the film come about?

Tati Cotliar: I’ve always liked freaks and neurotic individuals. The film is a story about a girl who’s so lonely that she has managed to turn her sadness into neurosis. She’s created a world where it's possible for her to become obsessed with the perfect position of teacups at her surrealist tea ceremony. 

 I imagined Magda as being shipwrecked – doomed to go insane, alone with her teacups

DD: Casey you also work as a photographer. How important is fashion film as a medium?

Casey Brooks: Film is still a relatively unexplored medium for fashion, but it holds endless possibilities. It has the opportunity to reach a new audience that print editorials cannot. A certain wall is being broken, which I think will engage eyes and minds on a whole new level. Not only are you able to explore the movement of a garment, which is otherwise only noted on the runway, but now the idea of an editorial has the opportunity to be expanded into a story. It can be revealed over time using new elements to set the mood, such as movement and music.

DD: Why did you choose an abandoned shipyard as the backdrop for the film?

Casey Brooks: Its shapes and textures were almost post-apocalyptic and provided a nice contrast to our story. I imagined Magda as being shipwrecked – doomed to go insane, alone with her teacups. The film is meant to be light, but we wanted the aesthetic to be a little darker and the ship graveyard achieved that.

Tati Cotliar: We really liked the idea of a tea ceremony, but we gave it a twist by converting the teacups into rough metal and they became almost destroyed objects. The surrealistic factor was given by all of these ships being half-sunken in a perfect diagonal way, much like Magda's twisted craziness.

DD: Tati, you've created this strong visual character through your choice in styling, how would you describe the girl in the film?

Tati Cotliar: To me, she is a sort of the perfect-imperfect woman. I thought of a mixture of all the qualities I like in a woman from cinematic characters – think of a Woody Allen woman, mixed with a Wes Anderson girl, mixed with Alice in Wonderland, mixed with a spoiled little girl (maybe Violet from Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and finally mixed with a mute German expressionist character who can only communicate and express herself through gesture. She is ultra smart but so neurotic that it turns her sadness and loneliness into obsessive repetition.