The September Issue-R.J. Cutler, Part II ...

As promised, part II of the Q&A with The September Issue director R.J. Cutler (and earlier than anticipated!) I really hope you enjoy!

Q: During the filming process how exactly did you win Grace over and how did you get her to work with you again?
A: It’s really about earning trust and the only way you can earn people’s trust is to be trustworthy. To be who you say you are and to act consistently–do that day in and day out. In this case, what I said to Grace is all I wanted to do was see how she does what she does. The same with Anna when I first met her–it was my only interest to tell the story of what they do and how they do it and who they do it with and to see it as clearly as possible. We assured them that we wouldn’t be getting in the way. It was just me, the cameraman, the sound guy and our field producer. It was just the four of us there and we would always respect what was going on in the office. I always say the story belongs to the subject it doesn’t belong to me. It’s my movie, but it’s their lives and I have to respect that first and foremost. You stay consistent and they realize my goodness they’re doing what they said they were going to do. The longer that goes on the more invested they get. And the more invested that Grace gets the more invested everybody at Vogue gets and it just builds on itself. We developed really strong relationships with everybody and that relationship has carried on with Grace. We’re working now on an adaptation of a book she wrote a few years ago about a really great collection of drawings that she’s made over the years that tells a story of a year in her life as though it were lived by her family of cats. And we’re hoping to turn it into an animated feature. I say there have been rats in the kitchen (Ratatouille), why not cats on the catwalk? The book is called The Catwalk Cats so we’re very excited about it.

Q: Did spending so much time among some of the leading fashion authorities have any influence over your personal style at all?
A: (Laughs) I don’t think you can possibly spend a year seeing the world through the eyes of Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington, Sally Singer, Hamish Bowles, AndrĂ© Leon Talley, Tonne Goodman and all the other awesome folks over at Vogue and not have your sense of what fashion is. This is why I do what I do. You get to parachute down into the middle of these extraordinary worlds and see the world through the eyes of these amazing people. And part of the thrill of it is having your perspective change because you’re seeing it from the inside out. I will say, it’s no surprise to everybody here that there is a tendency to dismiss fashion and the industry as vain, excessive, indulgent, and expensive beyond reason. And to some extent it is all of those things. But it’s all of those things at the same exact moment that it’s a global industry that impacts so many other industries whether it’s advertising, retail, shipping or publishing. Fashion is a place where great artists practice their art and great craftsmen practice their craft. It is a reflection of culture. You can look at any moment in history–the clothes worn by a society and learn so much about that time in history. Fashion is so many things that to simply dismiss it would be a non-educated perspective. Having spent the year in this industry you can’t help but appreciate the historical and current significance of this industry and that was my big takeaway.

Q: What is your view on all the chaos that happens during Fashion Week?
A: It’s a reflection of a healthy industry. Even in troubled times this is a vital and healthy industry. I’m about to spend a few days filming with the guys over at rag & bone as they get ready for their shows this Friday. And I’m just so excited to be back in the mix of things because I know what hard work is going into it. I know how high the stakes are and how much they have to do in such little time. You multiply that by all the designers in NY, London, Paris, Milan–that’s exciting stuff.

Q: Knowing what we all know about the fashion industry and how controlled and PR driven it is, were you pressured to have any footage withdrawn for potential controversy? You mentioned that Anna suggested some changes. What was she most concerned about?
A: The very first time I met Anna I told her there would be no point in making this movie if I didn’t have final cut. There’s no point in filming for a year and editing for a year if the film isn’t going to be taken seriously. I said to her you deserve to have a film made about you to be taken seriously. Anna immediately acknowledged that and committed to that. And consistent with that, nobody asked for changes or edits. Every decision in this film is a decision that I made and that I’m thrilled with. I couldn’t be happier with the final version of this film. What I did choose to edit (for creative reasons) will be seen in an extra 90 minutes of footage on the DVD. There’s wonderful ALT stuff that’s hilarious. Believe me, you haven’t lived until you’ve spent a day shopping with AndrĂ© in Paris!

Huge thanks to Jennifer over at 42 West for inviting me on this call. I had so much fun and learned so much. Thanks to Mr. Cutler for taking the time to share. And remember, the DVD releases on Feb. 23 so don't miss out on what everyone else will be talking about!

This post is dedicated to Alexander McQueen. While we know that Anna and Vogue make designers, it is absolutely true that designers like McQueen and his penchant for out-of-the-box artistry and design make the magazines. Thank you Mr. McQueen for sharing your talent and craft and inspiring us all. You will be missed.

Photo: Here


julia wheeler said...

this was SUCH a great read! i am SO excited to watch this! great work, haydes!

taryn said...

loved reading this! you did a great job! good questions... i LOVED this movie! so happy to finally see it. i can't wait to see the extra footage on DVD. :)

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