Hej Dasha!

Swedish director Emil Klang recently launched an ambitious new project, a series of shorts that tie in fashion and film narratives.

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In the last few years there have been many festivals, workshops and events focusing on the fashion and film connection. The link between the two worlds strengthened also thanks to designers showcasing their collections during different fashion weeks through videos and shorts. Swedish freelance cinematographer and film maker Emil Klang first tried to combine fashion and film in 2007, with “5 Positions”. The film, featuring Helena Hörstedt’s designs and showcased at Diane Pernet’s “You Wear It Well”, was followed by “Disappearing” (2008) (www.disappearing.se), a new short in which he cast models instead of actors and involved Swedish fashion designers Sandra Backlund, Bea Szenfeld, Jojo & Malou and Ida Sjöstedt.

Excited about the possibilities fashion narratives can offer, Klang launched a new and ambitious project, a series entitled “The Weeks of Dasha”. The project – following the adventures of a fictional character, Russian-born Dasha Romanova, moving to Stockholm – will last for the entire year, and feature 52 episodes exploring the links between fiction and fashion also thanks to the creations worn by the main character, created by international and Swedish fashion designers, among them also Dagmar, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair, Hope, Noir et Blanc and Made by Noemi.

Dazed Digital: What inspired you The Weeks of Dasha project?
Emil Klang: The project was somehow inspired by Japanese author Haruki Murakami, but what really prompted it was the fact that I wanted to make a new fashion and film project but was sick of the long production cycle implied by the making of a real film and the bureaucracy of getting the finance for it. So I wanted to make something totally independent and non-commercial, but work at the same time with well-known designers. Last but not least, I wanted to have the possibility to be spontaneous. After that I went to Moscow to find the roots of Dasha, since I felt it was important to research them a bit to understand her character.

DD: Where did you shoot the project?
Emil Klang: We are mainly shooting in Stockholm, since that’s where Dasha is moving in the first episode, but, to get the right snowy atmosphere for film 4 and 6, we went to more northern parts of Sweden. Dasha will certainly make some journeys during the year, but I don’t know yet where she will go! That’s actually what I like about this project. So far we have shot 10 episodes and have further ideas for the future, but I don’t want to film too much ahead. The basic story is kind of set and I know what kind of people Dasha will meet, but I also want to be open for improvisations and ideas that may show before the deadline.

DD: Do you feel that the Internet is the best medium for this project and would you like to develop a mobile phone application for The Weeks of Dasha?
Emil Klang: Internet is definitely the best forum for this series. The Dasha project is about film, but it’s supposed to be a diary as well and I guess it would be very difficult to convey it in a different way. We are trying to take Dasha out of the “Internet box” as well: we just had a small exhibition at a club in Stockholm for example. I would love to have a Weeks of Dasha mobile application and if anyone would like to make it, please contact us!

DD: When will you complete the project and which is your favourite episode so far?
Emil Klang: “The Weeks of Dasha” will last for the entire 2010 and it will certainly have no sequel, but there will be other fashion films from me in the future. I do feel that I’m just starting to find my fashion and film language. It’s difficult to say which one is my favourite episode, as they all mean so much to me, but in different ways. If I had to choose I would pick, Week 4 for its black nuances, Week 6 for the beauty of her imaginary boyfriend and Week 8 for its passion.

DD: Many fashion designers are expressing themselves through videos and shortcuts nowadays: do you feel that in more recent years there has been a renewed interest in the fashion and film connection?
Emil Klang: Absolutely, and I love it! The way that fashion is being expressed is always changing, but during the latest few years trends in fashion and film radically transformed and so much happened. I’ve seen so many beautiful films and I adore festivals like Diane Pernet’s. But there are two different kinds of fashion films, the ones made with the purpose of selling clothes and the more artistic ones. I love developing ideas around the fashion and film topic because a piece of clothing can have the ability to express so much, for instance it can strengthen the mood of a character or transmit a special feeling. It’s great to see that a lot of designers want to make films, but it’s important to remember to shoot a film and not a great looking short that only works as a sort of “video lookbook”. Different designers always have different things to express with their collections and I think that’s what they should put into their films.

DD: Quite a few Swedish fashion designers/brands are involved in this project, how did you manage to get them all interested?
Emil Klang: It’s not that hard to get the designers interested, since we don’t ask for any money. We are a group of friends who are into fashion and film and do not have any commercial interests. The films are contributing to get the brands known in some ways since people are watching them, but I would never use specific brands or clothes just for showing them up. I would do it obviously in a commercial project, but not in “The Weeks of Dasha”. Stylist Gorjan Lauseger and I discuss what kind of designers we want to use, analysing the backgrounds in which we will shoot or picking the clothes according to what they will express when Dasha wears them.

DD: Is there a photographer or director who inspires you in your work?
Emil Klang: Many, of course: I get great inspiration from oldies like Jean-Pierre Melville, Luis Buñuel and Michelangelo Antonioni, and their cinematographers. But I actually see more short films than features, as I feel they are more artistic and ground-breaking. I’m a fan of the Wholphin DVD magazine (www.wholphindvd.com) created by Dave Eggers and Brent Hoff of McSweeney’s fame, that’s a great source for inspiration for me.

DD: What kind of feedback did you get about Dasha so far?
Emil Klang: Just great! We wanted to be anonymous for the first weeks, but now people have started to talk about the series and I hope that, within a month or two, as they get to know Dasha better, they will be biting their nails trying to figure out what’s going to happen in next episode!

DD: What plans do you have for the future?
Emil Klang: Mainly to survive to 2011! If I do, I will probably go to London for a while, and make some interesting collaborations with fashion and film there. My ambition is to keep working and hang out with people who inspire me and transmit great feelings, a rare quality nowadays, but something that I definitely want to put into my films.
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