Generation Wealth

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‘Generation Wealth’ is a multi-platform project which includes a photography exhibition, a beautiful coffee table book and of course, the documentary film of the same name.

Director, Lauren Greenfield says that filmmaking is a ‘constant process’ (pg 219) and ‘the way she got good footage was by proximity to her topics for some long period of time and by gaining the trust of her subjects’. (McCreadie, pg 190) This film epitomises this approach to filmmaking, returning to previous subjects with whom she already has an established relationship with and following up on their lives.

The film is centred around her extensive personal photography archive, her audio recordings, some over a quarter of a century old and talking head interviews with the people featured in her photographs.

Greenfield uses both archival and modern interviews with the subjects of her photographs on the subject of wealth, beauty and power. The sheer number of participants in the film means she cannot analyse their characters in the same way she did with her previous film, The Queen of Versailles. However, this film takes a different approach examining microcosms  of society to tell us more about the world today.

A reoccurring theme through the film is that “Society acquires its greatest wealth in the face of death.” That by looking at spending habits of a few people around the world we are able to extrapolate a lot about the society in which they live.

The film suggests that thanks to the fictitious world created my the media having status is the new American dream. It is suggested that the porn stars, criminals, ‘rich kids’ and beauty queens that  are featured in this film see obscene amounts of money as the easiest way to reach that dream. And that they will do whatever it takes to accumulate that wealth. One could be lead to think that Greenfield is suggesting that these displays of wealth are an indication that America is heading for a fall.

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I really enjoyed the film, it was incredible to see such a large quantity of Greenfield’s photographic work presented in relation to a single topic and to hear more about her own life and approach to her work. Would definitely recommend! 

‘Generation Wealth’ is now in cinemas and available to watch online through Curzon Home Cinema.

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Documentary Diary: Bill Cunningham New York

If you haven’t already seen ‘’Bill Cunningham: New York’’ it is certainly one to add to your list of films to watch. I have wanted to see this documentary for a while but was unable to find any screenings near me, so when I found it was playing on Sky Arts I was thrilled.

The filmmakers create an intimate portrait of the enigmatic photographer while exploring the role fashion plays within New York Society and the evolutionary nature of fads and style.

Through a number of interviews with the artist himself and his neighbors and friends we learn more about Bill Cunningham’s extraordinary life. The film focuses on the life of Bill however his muses are just as crucial to documentary as the photographer himself. Editta Sherman, who lives next door to him in Carnegie Hall, is perhaps the most notable. Editta’s huge studio next door to Bill Cunningham’s tiny apartment (with no kitchen, closet or his own bathroom) shows the modest life he leads. Although his friends and subjects live lives full of decadence and luxury, the photographer lives a humble life, not accepting more money than he needs to live on and doesn’t eat during his working hours. After Cunningham dropped out of Harvard University he started designing hats under the name ‘William J’. His time as a hat maker, however, was cut short after he was called to serve in the army. When he returned he started writing and became particularly interested in fashion journalism. It was then he started photographing women on the streets of New York City. What was so unusual about his photographs was that he would take candid pictures of well known people without their permission. His collections of images became a regular segment in The Times from December 1978 onwards.

The 84 year old now has, without doubt the most impressive street fashion and society archive around as he dedicated his whole life to what he does. He can be found cycling the streets of NYC with his film camera snapping photographs of the most striking and eye catching people the city has to offer. Having a name or a net worth won’t put you on Bill’s radar however, as Anna Wintour said ‘ Women dress for Bill’ they have to make an effort to get immortalized in his rolls of film. The documentary is punctuated with these intimate portraits from across the ages to remind viewers of the world Cunningham captures. The way he sees things in a different way from everybody else, finding beauty in the bizarre and the unusual.

The film is an emotional rollercoaster, though generally it is uplifting and often humorous. The production quality of the film is terrific and it makes for enjoyable and inspiring viewing for all.

An Update…

Over the summer I have been keeping myself busy with various new projects.

 

I have also been involved with the production of Poet Matt Windle’s second music video for his new track ‘Be The Day’ which will be launching later this month.  It was great working with Hayley, Rebecca, Matt and Felix again. Now I just cannot wait to see the final product.

The Telepresence team have also met to brainstorm about some minor changes we are going to make to the film. We have discussed using a voice over to lead the narrative through the film, it will give a deeper insight to the feelings and emotional change the protagonist experience throughout as well as reducing the number of scenes we need to rework.

Inspiration: Disney Dream Portraits

Annie Leibovitz has brought everybody’s favourite disney characters to life the ongoing series of pictures named ‘The Disney Dream Portraits’. They were commissioned by Disney as part of a campaign advertising the theme parks.

Celebrities who have been transformed into the much loved cartoon characters include Queen Latifa, Alec Baldwin, J-Lo, Russell Brand, Scarlett Johanson and Julianne Moore.

The art design of the shoots is absolutely flawless and the casting for each character cannot be faulted.

Can’t wait to see the next images to be revealed!

DSLR Filmmaking Workshop.

Yesterday I took part in a free DSLR Filmmaking workshop in London. It was really interesting because in college we only really use larger cameras such as the JVC GY HMC 750E model. I’m about to update my Skills development page with all that I learn from the workshop. Check it out: https://elizabethvalentinasutton.wordpress.com/skills-development/dslr-filmmaking/

Inspirational Figure: RANKIN

John Rankin Waddell, known in the industry as Rankin, is a British portrait and fashion photographer.  He was able to transform his hobby into a career.

He has photographed many famous faces including Kate Moss, Björk, Britney Spears, Madonna, David Bowie, Adele, Tony Blair, Vivienne Westwood and even The Queen.

Rankin studied photography at London College of Printing, where he met Jefferson Hack. The two went on to start a magazine called Dazed & Confused together after they graduated in 1992. (Link to Dazed & Confused page).

He is also a prolific film maker, having made documentaries, music videos, adverts and a feature film called The lives of the Saints. He also has his own production company called RankinFilm.