ISOLATION is a fashion film that was developed during the peak of the pandemic when most of the population was consumed by the feeling of isolation. Devin O’Connell and Charlee Black, the film’s creators, wished to express these feelings using unique and stunning fashion pieces designed by Midwestern designers. These designs combined with striking locations complete the imagery of ISOLATION.
Fashion films are not something you typically see in Indiana, especially as well executed as ISOLATION. Why do you think that is?
CHARLEE: Fashion films like a lot of artistic work can be quite a hefty cost. Paired with pulling production and gathering a team, it can be quite the feat for a passion project. Devin and I both felt that we wanted to create something outside of our normal forms of creation (Devin, in commercial film and my eye for portraiture paired with commercial photo). We rounded a group of our friends and decided to create something different for a few days. What started as just a test of collaboration really turned into such a beautiful piece of work. We are both really proud of it.
DEVIN: From my limited experience in the Indiana fashion world, I would say that there are a few reasons why we don’t see local designers putting out fashion films and all of those reasons revolve around one word: cost. In the end, these designers are running businesses and they have to look at how they want to showcase their new styles from a budget perspective. Video can be quite expensive compared to still photography which already does a great job capturing the look of a piece. The way ISOLATION was made was sort of backwards. Instead of a designer reaching out to us to capture their designs, we reached out to local designers to see if they wanted some mutually beneficial work done. The designers walked away with a film that shows their styles, Charlee and I walked away with a creative work that we are proud of (plus it doubles as a portfolio piece).
Can you describe the process of putting this film together? From concept to creation, how long did it take?
CHARLEE: I’d say a good 4 to 5 months. Devin came to me with a certain idea in terms of angles which lead into location scouting and gathering the team. From there it was dealing with the Indiana winter and getting production things taken care of. Then sending it off for post processing, I could say it was well worth the wait.
DEVIN: After working on a lot of commercial and corporate film sets for a couple of years, I was craving some sort of raw creativity in my life. I reached out to Charlee to see if she would be interested in collaborating on a fashion film. This was back about a year ago in 2020. Charlee was interested and so we started brainstorming some ideas and looking at potential locations for filming when the concept came to us. What has everyone one been doing these last few months? How have we been feeling? Isolated. And with a desaturated, lifeless winter setting in, we knew what our theme and tone was going to be. From there we had to find designers, a model, a film crew, and dates. Shooting the film only took two days but it took longer in the editing room to fine tune what we wanted to be seen in the film. Plus we had an amazing colorist, Dan Edwards, color the film out in LA. By the time it was all said and done we were in May 2021. And now we are looking at distribution options online and through film festivals.
The lighting, the use of muted color and the angles captured: all of these components created a tone that aligned perfectly with the intended theme of isolation. Can you speak on how messages are conveyed from the director to the videographer and editor to create a cohesive body of work?
DEVIN: Communicating a clear message is, of course, key when collaborating on a creative project. Luckily, communicating from director to editor was easy, because I acted as both on this project. Although Charlee and I did have to explain what we needed to our director of photography, Freddie Murphy. Charlee and I did have some specific angles planned out for each location and we were able to show Freddie what we needed with a mood board and some storyboards. Some of the shots are not so planned out and we trusted Freddie to capture some imagery that fit the style we were going for, and as you can see he did an amazing job.
How do you feel Indianapolis/Indiana has supported the film industry thus far and where do you think there is room for improvement?
DEVIN: One thing to note about Indiana when it comes to the film industry is that unlike the large film markets of LA or New York, our state does not provide the same kind of tax incentives to film production companies. Therefore, large productions like feature films look to save some money by shooting in a state that offers them these “discounts” when they spend a certain amount of money on things like hotels or food for cast and crew members, for example. That is something that I personally think we are a long way from seeing in this state, but that’s not to say it is never done. The film industry workers in this state are still extremely knowledgeable and capable of completing any kind of film production.
Can you describe your experience being featured in 4SCENE film fest this year?
CHARLEE: It was really awesome. Tai has really created something unique to Indy while utilizing one of the most nostalgic institutions in the city, Tibbs Drive In. It felt very full circle seeing our passion project there.
DEVIN: Being a part of 4SCENE film festival was really special. The director of the festival, Tai Payne, is giving a lot of filmmakers who might not have the opportunity to show their work at other festivals the opportunity to see their hard work put on the big screen. Overall, Charlee and I had a great experience with 4SCENE and I hope to be able to submit more films in the future
Where can people find more work from you and the team that put this together?
DEVIN: You can find Charlee and I on Instagram or through our websites. Most of the crew and designers can also be found through Instagram.
Created by Devin O’Connell & Charlee Black
Model: Princesa Colon
DP: Freddie Murphy
AC: Kolton Dallas
Gaffer: Nick Kartes at Savage Cat Grip Electric
Grip: Andy Mesin
Grip: Sam Caravana
HMU: Greg Rose
Wardrobe: Lauren “Lo” Seymour
Colorist: Dan Edwards
Production Coordinator: Nikayla Edmondson
Thanks to Rune Models and Riverside High School