Turning the lens on teen girl suburban ennui

Not your average fashion film, post-internet girl power label Me & You debut a new short about two sisters living together in a retirement community

Me and You is the brainchild of IRL best mates Mayan Toledano and Julia Baylis. Through their amazing Instagram, off-kilter grannie panties and graphic sweatshirts emblazoned with slogans like “Feminist” and “Don’t Touch”, they’ve has come to epitomise Tumblr’s ‘teen girls in their bedroom’ vibe. The duo count photographers Arvida Byström and Petra Collins as collaborators, and Amandla Stenberg and Grimes as fans.

Now, they’ve teamed up with girls-only streetwear brand Mademe NYC on a collection, showcased here in a short film created by Sam Guest. Featuring two Instagram-cast talents Natalie Weaver and Clara Lara, the film focuses on the idea of suburban mundanity, following two sisters who live together in a retirement community. Here Guest and Baylis tell us more about it.

Can you explain the concept?

Julia Baylis: The film’s concept was to take two contrasting Americana elements – suburban life versus trap music and compare the two extremes. We wanted to break down the pristine nature of suburbia with the hallucinogenic, hedonistic and dystopian nature of trap music. The idea was to heighten the mundane, simple lifestyle of these two sisters to something more hyperreal and imaginative. 

Sam Guest: I used to read gossip magazines in line at the grocery store with my mom and was obsessed with the amount of creativity these writers put into creating false personas of these real people. I feel it's the height of journalism because it blends reality into this fictional world yet never believes in its falsity. I love the idea of taking these articles to heart and believing them as the only truth. In the script I used tabloid gossip as a way to create almost a singular language that is specific to these two girls, similar to the way these magazines create their own reality.

How did the film come about?

Julia Baylis: Sam basically thought about this scene of two sisters on hover boards – he’s obsessed with watching meme videos online of kids on hover boards. We were also looking at Nguan photos, Altman’s 3 Women and listening to the Drake/Future mixtape... these all kinda mashed together to create the warped world of GO$$IP.

Sam Guest: Also, Doug Rickard’s A New American Picture is one of my favorites. I like to use street view to location scout when I'm not able to go in person. I find the imagery to be extremely beautiful and desolate. I love the idea of this all-encompassing surveillance and think it plays into the watchful eyes that surround suburban landscapes.

How does it relate to the MadeMe collab?

Julia Baylis: MadeMe and Me and You both challenge societal expectations and assumptions of what it means to be a girl. It is a celebration of the past, but a look to the future all at once. 

Can you explain the title?

Sam Guest: I like when people use dollar signs in words.

”We wanted to break down the pristine nature of suburbia with the hallucinogenic, hedonistic and dystopian nature of trap music” – Julia Baylis

How far has suburban America been a part of your upbringings and identities? 

Julia Baylis: I grew up in Canada – so similar but slightly different. I have always been fascinated with Americana. One thing I love about it, is that is a place of such extremes. The neighborhood where we shot the video was a little gated community in the desert in California; every single house was exactly the same... which I think is so creepy and weird! Sam and I are both obsessed with the underlying creepiness of suburbia, the darkness that exists behind what appears to be a perfect milieux. 

Sam Guest: I grew up in a small suburban town and love everything about it. The small streets lined with secrets always give me a feeling of something greater, like a beautiful transcendence that I always try to replicate.

How did you cast Natalie and Carla?

Julia Baylis: Instagram! And we found Carla through the help of my friend Dana Boulos

Why was it important for you to create a narrative rather than a “fashion film”?

Sam Guest: Knowing that this film originated from a new fashion collaboration was interesting for me because I wanted to look at it as if it wasn't fashion, as if these where what these two secluded sisters wore every day. Julia always approaches her fashion design in this organic way that it makes it easy to come at things from a new perspective and roll with it.