Last week I attended a 'fashion film screening' put on by SVA. There were hundreds of people packed into the screening and part of the discuss was 'what is a fashion film'. Everyone from students, to major influencers in the photo and fashion industries. This has come to be a major discussion recently.
At this point I don't think this question has been answered and there are a variety of interpretations of video-fashion pieces. Really their is no agreed upon definition of 'fashion films'... yet.
About 3 weeks ago I ventured upon creating my first fashion film. I worked with a GREAT team and it was just completed about 3/4 days ago. For this video shoot we came up with a concept and shot it pretty much like a fashion editorial...but with movement. The piece is going to run in SVA Magazine (the digital version obviously). I will DEFINITELY post it here on this site as soon as its been released 'to the public'!
We are very comfortable with the idea of fashion editorials running in print magazines like Vogue, Zink, etc. Yet now as magazines move online and to iPads, why not make these editorials moving/film pieces? Magazines have shown for years now that they WANT to embrace more interactive media for their online audiences... Vogue and Elle have begun to commission and shoot some video pieces for iPad and online consumption. Recently Esquire shot the first 'digital magazine cover' (which just meant the model moved a bit on the cover). Vogue even goes as far as to try to animate some editorials to make them more interesting online. Other times Vogue has shot 'behind the scenes video' and tried to edit it into a more meaningful visual piece.
So in this particular instance, my fashion film was basically a fashion editorial 'better suited' to digital consumption on media like an iPad. By add elements of movement and sound, you are given further tools to communicate your vision.
But fashion films have proven to be much broader than my example here. For example, fashion designer Gareth Pugh has introduced his new collections using fashion films that were introduced at the same time as his runway shows. While people in one part of the world can experience the runway representation of his brand, people all over the world could experience the brand through a film that communicated the tone, movement and approach of his collection. They were pretty amazing short films. Other big brands like YSL, Kate Spade and others have embraced fashion films.
Basically fashion films for many are an extension of the brand... another way to experience clothing, fashion or a brand. A large portion of a brand's audience is not able to attend runway shows, or are not even in one of the major fashion districts like NY or Paris. Fashion films provide an online experience of the brand/collection.
Some fashion videos are on the edge of 'fine art' (like many of the films in the site where my fashion film will be published), whereas others are much more commercial. If you like this idea of digital exploration of fashion, branding and photography, you NEED to check out Nick Knight's "ShowStudio". Show Studio has been a platform for discussion of art, fashion, new media, and much more for MANY years... he has long been ahead of the curve and you can spend hours (even months!) exploring the deep base of content on this site.
I'd say commercially right now the most viable ways for photographers/directors to make money (so far) is through shooting designer look book videos. A look book is where the designers show off their clothing and help communicate their brand. A video look book gives the designer further ability to really communicate 'what they are all about' while showing off their clothing. Many designers have begun to request this type of work.
As far as 'what is fashion'... one of the reasons I love fashion photography so much is because fashion is so broadly defined and can be so many different things to different people. I love the creative freedom fashion photography allows me. Fashion is the intersection of art and commerce, between form and function. Fashion can be straightforward and commercial, or it can be avant garde and abstract. This is quite a great place for a photographer to be... able to choose between these aesthetics. This is why even a nude can be 'fashion photography' if it is communicating a brand.
The demand for fashion films is steadily growing, especially as people become more familiar with 'the concept of fashion films'. I'm planning to be ready for growth in this demand, especially when the economy picks up. Will this be the focus of my work? Probably not, but I want it to be another tool in my tool kit of creative expression.
Both of the images on this page are still from my upcoming (and first) fashion film, to appear on the SVA Magazine site. When its published, I'll put up behind-the-scenes and much more!