Interview with Monica Menez, ASFF Filmmaker, Odditory & The Journey

Fashion filmmaker and photographer Monica Menez draws inspiration from both everyday matters and elements of the grotesque. Her short films Odditory and The Journey screened in the Aesthetica Short Film Festival’s fashion category alongside a plethora of innovative works from independent directors and larger production companies. Developing a keen instinct for the genre from an early age, Menez combines fashion, music and popular motifs to create unique artworks whose scenes are humorous, surprising, exciting, sexy and absurd all at the same time. We speak to Menez about the transition of her stylistic vision from idea to the final cut.

ASFF: Your short fashion films The Journey and Odditory screened at ASFF 2015. How was this experience?
MM: It was a great experience for me. I enjoyed a lot of  screenings and attended many panel discussions. I met and spoke to many creative directors, so there was a vivid exchange of information. The special thing about this particular festival was that it was the first festival that I attended which was about short films in general, and not exclusively focused on fashion film. This way, I gained a wide range of interesting and exciting insights into other fields within the short film genre. Last but not least, I totally fell in love with York, the city where the festival took place.

ASFF: Your films are highly conceptual, often transforming everyday situations into surreal ones. Is the sense of the bizarre a challenge to balance with the showcasing of fashion?
MM: Most of the basic ideas that I have before I start working on a new fashion film are everything but ordinary, so strange or even bizarre elements always make their ways into my films. To me, it is an integral part of my work to implement an exciting and suspenseful storyline, which alienates the viewers. Besides that, fashion is of course the protagonist. I always make sure that fashion is included in the best and most prominent way possible. For instance, the keynote of my film Odditory was to show as much fashion as possible. This is why I came up with the scenery in the lecture hall. I was thus able to place many models, portrayed as students, into this scenery. The Journey on the contrary shows proportionally much less fashion since there are not as many models involved. In my opinion, the fundamental requirement for a fashion film is that fashion has to mesh with the story and the basic idea of the film.

ASFF: The Journey is set in exterior surroundings. How was this experience in comparison to studio conditions?
MM: It was really great! It actually went better than expected, especially if you consider the fact that this was my first exterior shooting. I always wanted to make a road-movie, so I was really excited.

ASFF: Where do you look for inspiration for your work, both in and outside of the fashion world?
MM: My main source of inspiration is music. Besides that, anything has the potential to inspire me, be it a piece of clothing, an article of furniture, or strange and weird things in our everyday lives. However, I try to avoid watching other fashion films, except when films are shown at a festival. That’s not because I have no interest in the work of other fashion filmmakers, but I do not want to get influenced by other ideas.

ASFF: In your opinion, what makes fashion film an innovative and constantly growing genre?
MM: The great thing about fashion film is that fashion can be shown in motion. This brings many advantages, particularly when compared to editorials in magazines, like telling a story and conveying emotions. This artistic form has the chance to appeal to viewers on many different levels, and thus sets a perfect stage for fashion. Nevertheless, I believe that editorials in magazines are just as important as fashion films.

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1. Monica Menez, Odditory.