The Cult Comic Book Outsider Blurs the Line Between Fiction and Reality in His Latest Work with the British Director
A semi-fictional local clown and a tattooed and buxom burlesque dancer vie for attention with their creators Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins in this short captured on the set of their forthcoming short film, His Heavy Heart, the fifth part of the Show Pieces series made with photographer and director. The thick-bearded, permanently smoking mystic Moore is one of the most prolific generators of fiction alive. His roster of graphic novels turned Hollywood movies—Watchmen, From Hell, V For Vendetta—reads like a role call of wildly popular yet intelligently designed comic fantasies. He started his current novel-in-progress Jerusalem (rumoured to be around 600,000 words long) after losing faith in the world of blockbuster movies. “Most films today recycle ideas from 30, 40, 50 years ago,” he says. “The current superhero fad is probably a good example, and also things like Pirates of the Caribbean, which is based upon a theme park ride. You can see pop culture just devouring itself.” Instead, Moore and Jenkins—who are in the planning stages of a TV show and feature film—favour the local in place of the lure of distant dollars. Showcased in this film from Emile Rafael, the narratives found in the Lex Projects-produced Show Pieces grew out of Moore’s experiences in his hometown, the Midlands town of Northampton in England. A strange thing happened after most of the series was shot last year—sightings of an anonymous costumed joker the “Northampton Clown” went viral 'creepypasta'-style, freaking out coulrophobics worldwide. “Mitch started getting emails saying, ‘This is you and Alan isn’t it,’” Moore recalls. “No it wasn’t, yet it was a perfect expression of something that we had written—this story with a clown who only exists in dreams, breaking through and manifesting in the streets, which is kind of what happened.” Below, Mitch Jenkins speaks to NOWNESS about the creative collaboration.
How did the Jimmy’s End project come to fruition?
Mitch Jenkins: After Alan had suggested writing the screenplay, he turned my characters into Bobbles the Clown, James and Mr Metterton, thus creating "Jimmy’s End" and the wonderful array of strange but beautiful inhabitants of the Workings Men’s Club in Northampton. We have spent the last three years creating the world of The Show.
Can you tell us about the creative process?
MJ: It really is a true collaboration, every detail is discussed, Alan then writes the words and creates the world. It's my job to turn what's written on the page into film. Throughout the process we stop and take stock of each new element that is added, discussing it’s merit, making minor adjustments until what we see and hear is what we both want.
MJ: Alan just finished writing the feature film, The Show and we are also pre-planning the TV series. Add to this, the launch of our R&D project Electricomics two weeks ago.
The Show Pieces home media box set will include a DVD of all films from the project and a separate book of storyboard illustrations by Kristian Hammerstad that sit alongside the original screenplay and the soundtrack to the films. Pre order here.
Jonas Åkerlund Takes Model Shaun Ross on a Hyperkinetic Trip Through LA in the Final #DefineBeauty Film
“Hollywood is so good at only seeing what’s on the outside, and using that first impression instead of going deeper,” says Jonas Åkerlund of the location of the final film in the #DefineBeauty series, in which he follows American model and actor Shaun Ross around the back streets and freeways of Los Angeles. “I think Shaun has spent all his life with those reactions. Look again and you see that this guy is really beautiful.” The Swedish filmmaker is known for music videos that span over 25 years—from Madonna to Beyonce, Iggy Pop to U2—and feature films including the darkly comic 2002 release, Spun. His gothic style is apparent in today’s portrait of the famed albino model, who recently starred in Lana Del Rey’s 30 minute film, Tropico. “When Shaun showed up on Hollywood Boulevard, Darth Vader and Mickey Mouse were affronted,” the filmmaker says of filming Ross, who was styled by his wife B. Åkerlund. “Like, ‘What the fuck is this guy doing here?’” Elements of Beyond the Skin were shot by Ross himself with a camera provided by the director, whose cat was given a supporting role. “She’s also albino so I thought they might have a connection,” says Åkerlund. “They actually did. She wouldn't stop sitting on his head.”
Look one: Top & skirt by Yuima Nakazato.
Look two: Head piece by Maiko Takeda, cape & pants by Yuima Nakazato, shoes by Nereku.
Look three: Leather jacket by Bohemian Society, metal mesh top & bracelets by Michael Schmidt Studios, boots by Gasoline Glamour.
Look four: Jacket by, Hyein Seo, top & shorts by Yuima Nakazato, shoes by Nereku.
The Celebrated Filmmaker and Designer Olympia Le-Tan Co-create a Tale to Pierce the Heart
Designer Olympia Le-Tan's embroidered clutch-bags spring to life in director Spike Jonze’s tragicomic stop-motion animation Mourir Auprès de Toi (To Die By Your Side). On a shelf in famed Parisian bookstore Shakespeare and Company, the star-crossed love story of a klutzy skeleton and his flame-haired amour plays out amidst Le-Tan’s illustrations of iconic first-edition book covers. "It's such a beautiful and romantic place,” offers Le-Tan of the antiquarian bookstore. "The perfect setting for our story!” The project started after Jonze asked for a Catcher in the Rye embroidery to put on his wall and the plucky Le-Tan asked for a film in return. Enlisting French filmmaker Simon Cahn to co-direct, the team wrote the script between Los Angeles and Paris over a six month period, before working night and day animating the 3,000 pieces of felt Le-Tan had cut by hand. “I love getting performances from, telling stories about and humanizing things that aren’t human,” said Jonze of working with Le-Tan’s characters. After spending five years adapting Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are, Jonze’s recent shorts include robot love story I’m Here and an inspired G.I. Joe-starring video for The Beastie Boys. “A short is like a sketch,” he says. “You can have an idea or a feeling and just go and do it.” Here the iconic director reveals his creative process to writer Maryam L'Ange.
How did the film come about?
I met Olympia in Paris through friends of mine. She was just starting to make the bags for her friends. She had a bunch of the scraps in her bag, all of the cut-out pieces of felt. I just loved it. I loved all the artwork she picked, the texture of it, the stitching of the felt. We joked about making a film and just went for it. It was this thing with no schedule, no pressure and no real reason to be—other than just that we thought it would be fun.
Did you write the story together?
Yeah we did. We would look at all the artwork over lunch whenever we would be in the same city, noting any ideas that would just make us smile. It was done like that, with no real plans.
What’s your creative process?
You just start with what the feeling is. For this one the feeling definitely started with the handmade aesthetic and charm of Olympia’s work. Instantly I had the idea of doing it in a bookstore after-hours, imagining the lights coming down and these guys off their books. Me and Olympia both wanted to make a love story, and it was fun to do it with these characters. It evolved naturally and it all just started with the feeling. From there you entertain yourself with ideas that excite you.
Do you go with your gut instinct?
If it cracks me up. We were talking about the skeleton coming off his book and the girl in the Dracula book waving at him. Olympia is someone who is just absurd, she’s used to just saying anything. She just started making the blowjob gesture as a joke to make us laugh but I was like, “We’ve got to do that.” It’s about taking things that could just be a joke while brainstorming and actually going for it and using it.
What inspires you?
People inspire me. Humberto Leon and Carol Lim [from Opening Ceremony] and the confidence and creativity in how they run their business. Pixar’s really inspiring, they make films in the best possible way. They’re always focused on story. I could list a million people that inspire me all the time. David Bowie’s music, Charlie Kauffman, David Russell. A lot of people that I work with too, just conversations I have with them about what we want to do.
To read an interview with Olympia Le-Tan about the making of the animation visit our Facebook page here.