Noot Seear in The Suitcase (Photo courtesy of Greg Brunkalla)
When Marie Claire magazine approached director Greg Brunkalla to collaborate on a project, he knew immediately that he did not want to deliver a standard fashion piece. Seizing the opportunity, he created a new genre, the ‘motion editorial movie.’ Heralded as the first fashion editorial of its kind, The Suitcase fulfills Brunkalla’s vision as a standalone short film and Marie Claire’s need for dynamic content to populate their website and iPad app.
Given that a still photo spread for Marie Claire normally includes 12 different outfits, Brunkalla created the story of a young woman’s first trip to Manhattan. The girl, portrayed by actress/model Noot Seear, discovers a mysterious suitcase in her hotel room, and what she finds inside transports her into a magical world of daydreams and dress-up. While it is not readily apparent to the viewer, the movie is actually a “shop-able” film, and anything that you see Seear wearing can be purchased through the iPad app.
Brunkalla knew immediately that he wanted to shoot the project on film, and he brought cinematographer Pete Konczal on board with that in mind. “I typically gravitate towards film,” explains Brunkalla. “In your practice as an artist you shoot for the stars, and for me, that means film most of the time. These days when you shoot film, it’s more special. You have a different vibe on set.”
The 16mm format perfectly captured the timeless look Brunkalla wanted to bring to the movie. “I wanted the piece to have a very natural look, and I think film has a little more of an organic feel. It is imperfect, in a good way. We’re all used to things being crystal clear, and I think this story is very whimsical. It has a daydream feel to it that film captures naturally. We didn’t have to rely on filters or post effects to capture the look we wanted.”
“Any shooter will tell you that they’re excited when a director says they want to shoot on film,” adds Konczal. “The first thing Greg said to me was, ‘I want to shoot on 16mm. All these fashion films on digital cameras look really harsh.’ He wanted this to have a timeless look with a classic feel, and he knew the only way we’d get that is by shooting film.”
Konczal chose KODAK VISION3 500T Color Negative Film 7219 and KODAK VISION2 200T Color Negative Film 7217. “I’ve been shooting Kodak for a while, and I’ve always been a fan of those two speeds in tungsten. Even when I shoot daylight, I actually prefer to use filters to warm them. I like turning a tungsten stock into a daylight stock. I feel like it has a unique look to it, and in some ways it is more naturalistic looking.”
An early sequence in which the girl is tearing through The Suitcase and trying on a variety of beautiful items exemplifies the feel of the piece. “It was a very magical section where it really came together for both of us,” notes Konczal. “To get the organic feel that Greg was after, we actually decided to use older lenses. We just let everything hit the camera. There was some sun coming through the window, and we put some lights on the edge of the frame, really close to the angle the sun was at. We knew that we would get cool flares, but we also knew it would further soften the image and make it dreamier.”
The Suitcase was shot on an Aaton, with the exception of a brief underwater sequence shot on a digital camera. “Even if we had wanted to, there wasn’t a digital camera that could have accommodated this shoot,” Konczal adds. “The camera needed to be light because Greg wanted it to be very vérité and documentary. We would have struggled if we had to go with a heavier camera.”
Konczal concludes, “I’ve often been asked, ‘Why does The Suitcase look and feel like that?’ And I say, because it’s film. It’s really very simple.”
View The Suitcase at www.brunx.com.