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MORRIS JANKS:
LA NAISSANCE

Mindconsole was recently approached by high-end fashion label & dressmaker Morris Janks to create a high-concept fashion film to help launch their new dress line at the 2012 London Fashion Week.

The creative concept was developed by Mindconsole’s writer/director Alan Chen, a director whose background in all things design made him the perfect candidate for the job.

Client: Morris Janks
Director: Alan Chen
Producers: Benjamin Shepherd, Luke Tierney & Alan Chen
Production & Costume Designer: Pele Hehea
Film Editor: Kelly Searancke
Composer: Robert Clark
Sound Designer: Nathaniel Watkins

With the client eager to start shooting the film within weeks of initial contact, Mindconsole brought collaborator Luke Tierney on board to assist with everything from the creative development of the script & concept to undertaking organisational roles such as budgeting, booking crew & scheduling.

Due to the restricted budget and short pre-production timeframe, a cast and crew call was put out, and within a few days all talent & crew were locked in for what was to be an intense, epic & incredibly rewarding 2 day shoot. Alan and Ben cast veteran actor Cass Cumerford (Mad Max: Fury Road, Wild Boys, Murder Call), and high profile model Annabella Barber (Harper’s Bazaar, Zimmerman, Alexander Wang) to lead the show. As there was not a single piece of dialogue to be spoken in the piece, developing a performance that could be easily read was essential to the success of the vision.

Propped up studios in Marrickville, Sydney had the ideal amount of floor-space & technical specifications for the production of the film. Production & costume Designer Pele Hehea worked closely with Chen to bring his vision to life – creating highly detailed & modifiable sets as well as tracking down specific props such as aged vintage doll heads, fabrics and bottles to create the perfect workshop. They say god is in the details, and this film reflects that. From the luscious illustrations to the perfectly embroidered coat-hanger, these were made to Chen’s specifications by art directors Billy Clare Reitzenstein and Michael Salcedo.

Visually, Alan was influenced by the Chiaroscuro techniques by Renaissance painter Caravaggio, and the painting “The Raft of the Medusa” by Theodore Gericault. This became a visual theme for both production design and cinematography. Director of Photography Benjamin Shepherd worked closely with Chen, Hehea and Gaffer Finbarr Collins to realise and execute the best possible way of telling the story, while emulating the beauty and style of the Renaissance paintings. The Arri Alexa Cinema Camera was chosen to capture the stunning visuals in all their glory, a choice made possible thanks to the great amount of generosity of our colleagues at Cinoptix Film Equipment in Sydney.

Make-up and hair played a large role in transporting the viewer into the world of La Naissance. We enlisted the help of Makeup & Hair Supervisor Belinda Moore who oversaw a team of seven make-up artists responsible for transforming the cast members into realistic doll-like figures.

La Naissance’s film editor was Kelly Searancke under the guidance of Alan Chen, and the majority of post-production was completed by the internationally acclaimed Sydney-based post-production house Cutting Edge.

Post-production was quite intensive and took place over the course of 2 weeks. The main task of Flame Artist Scott Geersen was to minimize the movement of the dolls as well as emphasizing minute details such as the joints and crevasses of the dolls limbs. Colourist Scott Maclean worked alongside DOP Shepherd to generate the film’s ‘look’ whilst also defining & adjusting specific elements – specifically the colour & saturation of the highlighted dress at the end of the piece.

In 2012 La Naissance was officially screened at the Sydney and London fashion weeks which helped spark great interest in Morris Janks. The film won several awards nationally, taking out the gold award at the ACS regional, and then the highly coveted Golden Tripod at the ACS national level. La Naissance has since screened officially at the Green Panther Film Festival in Austria where it won the gold award, The Berlin Film Festival, The Las Vegas Film Festival and the Manaki Brothers Film Festival.