Becoming a Man
Director – Merle van der Wal
Art director – Maddie Raedts
Director of Photography – Agnes Untner
Producer – Thomas Lindenmann
Sound design – Derk Reneman
Make-up and hair – Vanessa Stenvers
Production assistant – Dominique van den Oord
Agnes Untner, native from Austria, lives in Berlin and Amsterdam. In 2013 she graduated from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) with a BA in Fashion and Branding – Minor: Fashion and Visual Culture. As a course project she was the Director of Photography for the fashion film: Becoming a Man featuring model Ruben Visser’t Hoof and garments by Brian Geradts.
What is the background of the video you submitted: ‘Becoming a Man’?
At AMFI I followed a Fashion and Visual Culture minor, which was split into two periods: the first focused on fashion photography and the second on fashion film. One of our assignments was, in a group of four people, to create a 3 minutes film. Everyone had his own role: Producer, Art-Director, Director of Photography (DOP) and Director.
The brief was to pick a young Dutch fashion designer and to use his/her latest collection as the main inspiration for our film.
We had complete freedom. We got in contact with Brian Geradts, a recent graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design Maastricht, we interviewed him and asked for specific pieces of his collection ‘You see the overall of what we are’ to feature in our film.
How does the title Becoming a Man relates to the video?
The idea emerged as we considered Brian Geradts and his collection. Brian is a relatively young fashion designer. The main inspiration for his collection was volcanos, a theme we really liked.
Quickly we realized we would have to work with several layers as Brian did with the fabrics of his collection. One of our ideas was to show a volcano eruption as an allegory of the designer work constantly processing and finally bursting out. Of course you could also see an erotic connotation … it is open to interpretation!
How does gymnastics relate to the theme?
We found the idea of gymnastics interesting. It is hardly ever seen in fashion films. It also highlights both concepts of masculinity and force of nature.
What was the objective of your video, what did you try to achieve with it?
The intent of the film was to present both the collection and the designer in a new way. A film presenting the collection had previously been made, but it felt quite commercial … less conceptual. We wanted the viewer to feel, through the duration of our movie, a certain transformation from boy to man. We wanted to trigger emotions relating to strengths, intensity and fighting spirit as well as feature an attractive man.
Can you tell us about the process of selecting your model Ruben Visser’t Hoof?
We wanted a man who looked still boyish, but who would also enable us to show masculinity. The trickiest part was to find someone suitable in good enough shape to handle filming two days in a row, exercising nonstop.
Ruben Visser’t Hoof exceeded all our expectations, his personality and skills largely contributed to the success of our film.
How was your video a collaborative project?
Our teachers allocated individual roles within our group of four. Each of us had to carry research within his/her department. In my role as a DOP I had to learn all skills from scratch: I had never filmed, worked with lighting or edited before this experience. I watched a lot of films from the German Expressionists era and from Bernardo Bertolucci one of my favourite directors. The photography work of Vittorio Storaro in Bertolucci’s The Conformist inspired me a lot.
What do you feel is the role of the fashion film?
A fashion film is a great tool to communicate the values of the brand and the meaning of the collection. There is more depth in a film than there is in a still image. Music, movements, gestures and mimics more easily stimulate the senses. A film can easily trigger emotions and emotions create a strong bond.
After creating this film and realizing how much work is needed to create a three minutes long video, I admire the film industry even more. It is hard work to create something beautiful.
What’s next for you?
After graduating from AMFI I decided to take a two months break to catch up with things I had not been able to do for a while and I missed quite a lot. In the autumn I would like to find a job working for an international agency specialised in branding and identity; not necessarily related to fashion.
I am looking for a job that challenges me. My philosophy is to do what I do best, with the courage to stay true to myself, enjoying working with like-minded people.
Bertolucci’s The Conformist