24 Days to Go: ASFF 2013 Interview with Filmmaker Kathryn Ferguson

Highly acclaimed fashion filmmaker Kathryn Ferguson launched a new film last week entitled Change is a Beautiful Thing available online and in-store as part of The Beauty Project at Selfridges. Three more films about beauty will be launching over the next three weeks. One is a documentary about modern beauty in Britain; the second an animation about transformative beauty, and the third is Return to Natural Hair made in collaboration with writer Hannah Pool.

Ferguson’s film Four-Tell (2013) made in collaboration with Selfridges was in the official selection for ASFF last year. In this film, architect Zaha Hadid, fashion commentator Caryn Franklin OBE, designer Bella Freud and entrepreneur Sharmedean Reid celebrate female role models on International Women’s Day. We speak to Ferguson about her projects.

A: Commissioned by Selfridges for International Women’s Day, Four-Tell has an incredibly inspiration and positive message. As a filmmaker, are you particularly attracted to powerful projects such as this?
KF: Yes, very much so. Working on Four-Tell was a bit of a dream brief. Being able to play with mixing a stylised aesthetic with real stories from strong women was a fantastic step in the documentary direction. It’s an area I’m developing within my practise.

A: Fashion film crosses over with many different genres; Four-Tell was screened as part of the documentary strand at ASFF 2013. With this in mind, why do you feel it is particularly important for festivals to begin to celebrate fashion film as a genre in its own right?
I think fashion film is now most definitely established as a genre in its own right with many leading directors raising the artistic bar with their films. As such it seems natural that they should be celebrated as another art form worthy of public viewing artistically as well as for their commercial appeal.

A: You’ve curated a number of fashion film projects for organisations such as the British Fashion Council and Bird’s Eye View Film Festival. In your opinion, what makes a great fashion film and how do you define the genre?
KF: A great fashion film to me is one that creates an emotional response whilst keeping a very high aesthetic. Identity and dress are at the core of a fashion film so I’m always delighted when directors go below the surface and look more in-depth into these themes.

A: Since graduating from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2005, you’ve worked with an array of high-profile designers, performers and organisations. What has been the most exciting project that you’ve worked on so far?
KF: I’ve been very fortunate over the past few years with the variety of work my career has brought me. I’d say working with the Selfridges creative team has definitely been one of the most rewarding jobs so far. They are an incredibly switched on, an open client and a delight to work with.

Travelling and meeting creatives across the world with the British Council has been enlightening and I still enjoy working for Birds Eye View Film Festival and believe in what they do. Working with Sinead O’Connor was definitely a career highlight. It was a huge coup to be able to work with one of my teenage idols. That was a really exciting project to be involved in.

A: As a lecturer at the London College of Fashion, what advice do you give to students hoping to launch a career in fashion film?
KF: To forget all that they’ve seen and come at it from a fresh angle. The genre is still in its infancy and a lot can be achieved by the next generation of filmmakers. Get your work out there; make sure you ask for help with things. Be bold, my biggest mantra is “if you don’t ask you don’t get.”

I’m always amazed by how willing people are to engage in creative projects and never rule anyone out because you think they may be too famous, too busy or too expensive. I’d always rather know that I’d tried my best before giving up on any project that I believe in.

A: What projects are you working on at the moment?
KF: I am currently working as Filmmaker in Residence for Selfridges creating a new film series on modern beauty. The films will be launching online and in-store throughout May and June. It’s been a very exciting follow on from Four-Tell and I hope will be interesting to people.

Watch Change is a Beautiful Thing here.

To see Ferguson’s work visit www.kathrynferguson.co.uk.

For more information on the The Beauty Project at Selfridges visit www.selfridges.com.

ASFF 2014 is open for entries. Submit your film in any genre by 31 May to be in with a chance of winning festival screenings, cash prizes, awards and more. For more information and to enter visit www.asff.co.uk.

1. Kathryn Ferguson, Four-Tell (2013).