Fashion News Live’s Angie Andera sits down with Stephen Dirkes to discuss his latest film.
Stephen Dirkes will be showcasing his film, “Case 432”, at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival in July.
Tell me a bit about the inspiration behind the film. What made you want to tell this story?
The film was a culmination of several interests and influences that came together via a group of videos I created for the Adversary. I wanted to explore an imagined 19th Century documentary of the perfumer’s research into making his 100 TWEEDS perfume.
What kind of equipment did you use to make the film?
The film was shot as Digital still photographs for both live action and stop motion. Everything got timed as animated sequences an was converted to a video format for post production and editing.
How long did it take to film everything?
About a month was spent preparing sets and props, shooting live action and stop motion sequences and final post, edit, and scoring.
Where can people go to learn more about the film?
Learn more about the film, the story of 100 TWEEDS perfume and the Euphorium Brooklyn perfume house here:
What do you hope audiences take away after watching your film?
I wanted to look at science driven by madness in ways both playful and menacing.
What’s harder: getting started on a film or bringing it to completion?
I think I would almost always say that getting a project started is harder than completing one. Some times it’s a long, slow process developing creative and technical elements to get underway, but once that happens a project often develops it’s own dynamic that propels itself along. I had to write “usually” because this film sat around forever in a semi-complete state, waiting for the right situation to lock down an edit and get wrapped up.
What is the one mistake most filmmakers make, regardless of experience?
I think the concept of a “mistake” is a really personal thing that varies from filmmaker to filmmaker and project to project, so it’s hard for me to say what most filmmakers would say. I find myself often promising myself to be a little less ambitious and to kill my crew a little less at the end of a shoot. 😉
How has filmmaking evolved since you first started? Any surprises?
I think that the dslr explosion has putting filmmaking tools in the hands of a wider community, which opens up new ideas and different trends evolving. Lots of new “junior filmmaker” gear like drones, jib arms, gimbal heads, etc for lightweight still cameras now offers lots of technical possibilities on really low budget productions.
What advice do you have for any young/aspiring directors who want to get started?
Focus on developing your own voice and an approach to art making that resonates in a deep and personal way.
How do you know when your story is finished and when it’s time to walk away?
When the check clears…. 😉
BEHIND THE CAMERA:
When inspiration is waning, what do you do to come up with fresh and original ideas?
I often have a list of etudes or specific animation or filmmaking techniques I’m interested to explore and that can inform/motivate some great ideas/ setups for a project if I’m stuck otherwise.
What/who were some of your major influences when you first started out?
The stop motion animations of Czech filmmakers, Jan Svankmajer, Jiri Barta and the Brothers Quay were very inspirational as they seem to float between narrative cinema and abstract fine art ( a space I love to try to inhabit).
Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways besides filmmaking?
Well, filmmaking for me represents an already wide creative birth as I like to have my hands in many departments from production design to post and scoring. In “CASE #432” I was also the client as I created a perfume house in 2015, Euphorium Brooklyn and the story of the film comes from my story of the perfume. I find creating fragrances to be unexpectedly similar to composing music.
What is your favorite part of your job? What is the most challenging part?
I have so many favorite parts of the film making process. I love the first chance I get to see an elaborate set or miniature set through the camera lens and everything seems to just glow and is a manifestation of a vision I had weeks/months/years before. It’s very satisfying. The biggest challenge/ dread… RETURNS! Breaking down and returning rentals and sets happens at the end of production when everyone is fried, money is spent, and nerves are frayed.
What’s next for you? How would you like to see your career evolve?
I’m in preparation building very elaborate miniature sets for a stop motion animation project that will be telling the story of the Euphorium Brooklyn perfume house. Although I get so much inspiration and influence from the clients I work with, I have really been enjoying being my own client and working on more and more elaborate projects that fuse my many and varied interests.
What do you wake up looking forward to?
On a daily basis, I’m alternately driven by study and creation. A day spent in research/ study and/or creating/making something is sure to be a great day.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Brooklyn, New York
Masters Degree in Traditional Sundanese Music STSI Bandung Java, Indonesia
3-5 most important skills needed to be a filmmaker:
Having a distinct voice as a story teller, knowing how to communicate in that voice to others, and the ability to learn how to improve.
My top 3-5 favorite films are:
“The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer,” (1984) Brothers Quay, “The Fabulous Baron Munchausen” (1961) Karel Zeman and “La Coquille et le clergyman” (1928) Germaine Dulac.