As per the last entry, Lilith is now being featured on BlackMagic’s SPLICE community. The article is a nice summation of the thought process behind the film and the origination of the story. Features some tidbits that you won’t find in the 900 pages of text in this blog, so definitely check it out!
It’s been a slow week of blogging as I’m in full-press prep for the TV pilot I’m directing. Been busy putting together design documents for costumes, production design and cinematography. It’s part of my normal process - each department gets a very detailed dossier with my thoughts and photo references on each character and setting. On Lilith I generated almost 200 pages of reference material for my collaborators. These notes serve primarily as a starting point, and allows my collaborators to work independently of me because they all have a very clear idea of what I want. They always come back with something very interesting and intermixed with their own perspective and taste, which is most amazing part of collaborating. I’m generally flexible on just about everything brought to me, but there will always be certain elements that I want to remain just as I envisioned them. For this TV pilot it is one particular dress for my actress.
For those who have seen Lilith and listened to the commentary they’ll know that I’ve a particular obsession with designer Alexander McQueen, and everything I do has a McQueen creation in it. In Lilith it was the black lace leggings and black shirt-dress that Julia Voth wore in the film’s opening, and my costume designer Carla Shivener absolutely nailed it, and Julia totally rocked the look as only Julia can.
For the TV pilot I need a dress that oozes sensuality but doesn’t read as trampy. This is an elegant woman who has a very deep and meaningful sexual desire, and I really want to find a dress that is graceful but also smoulders with passionate fire. I knew McQueen was my designer to go to - he had this innate understanding of a woman’s body and soul, a tradition carried on by current McQueen head designer Sarah Burton.
The key is to find THAT dress. The one everyone can’t forget, the one that is in perfect harmony with the woman, her personality, and her body. After an exhaustive search I landed on it, and I just knew it was there. Like Kiera Knightley’s green dress in Atonement, which still haunts me to this day.
It was a McQueen silk chiffon halter dress in a brilliant mustard yellow that did it for me. I loved how it flowed and elongated the body, it’s pleats billowing like fire flames. My actress has a long neck and slender arms, and this dress would emphasize Elizabeth’s features amazingly. I imagine her with her hair up, a dazzlingly simple pair of hanging earrings and very simple makeup. It’s all about being in that moment.
A dress like this has to be like magic, and like any magic trick there has to be the reveal - the prestige - and that happens with this dress when she turns around.
Elizabeth has an incredible body and having an open back is about as sexy a statement I can make with her. The reveal is calculated and paced, in fact I worked with the writer of the script and had an entire scene designed around her back. I have a thing for shoulders and backs - in Lilith I built an entire scene around actress Bianca Christians’ amazing, amazing back.
Now the journey begins - this McQueen dress is a very rare find, and if we can’t find it we’ll have to get a dress that approximates it. Not an easy task, but this is why costume designers are amazing artists. They can make your visions come to life from the most unexpected of resources, and that’s their gift. I can’t wait to see this all come together.
Again I apologize for the slow output, will try to fit in as much as I can between work schedules. Until then enjoy the SPLICE article and the other amazing articles on the community page. Thanks!