PHOEBE ARNSTEIN TALKS BROLIN - TEXT LUKE TIERNEY
In a time where sincerity seems to be at an all time low in the real world, it's unsurprisingly prevalent throughout film, something Phoebe Arnstein has always been a part of. In her latest video for Brolin's Cyndi Laupa cover of 'Time After Time', Phoebe travelled to New York with friend / actress / model Chloe Hayward. Together they made an intimate and honest look at a fictional relationship that grows in strength with the track. We caught up with Phoebe to hear a bit more about the thinking behind the format, why New York and the importance of the colour yellow.
Word Is Cheap: There’s a real honesty to your work, how did you go about creating authentic moments?
Phoebe Arnstein: I knew I was going to be able to capture something extraordinarily open and beautiful with the protagonist, Chloe Hayward. I wanted to document the transitory memories of a relationship, over what hopefully feels like a long period of time. To allow us full engagement with the intimacy of the relationship we were going to construct, I wanted to make the technical side of the shoot as discreet as possible. I was by Chloe’s side intensely for five days, filming her continuously. It was just Chloe, the camera and me, which gave us the privacy to share the authentic moments you see on camera.
Due to the very honest nature of the film, I relied on the unpredictable moments and scenarios we could react to. If Chloe felt like she was following the rigidity of a shot list, I feared it would affect the authenticity of her performance
WIC: Why did you decide to shoot in New York?
PA: As the eye behind the camera, it was important me for me to be stimulated and provoked by the shooting landscape. I didn’t know New York too well when I went out to shoot and I felt galvanized by the challenge of photographing an unfamiliar city and making it feel residential, like home. Chloe had recently moved to New York, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity for us to take on the city together, with new and fervent eyes.
WIC: Were many shots planned?
PA: Due to the very honest nature of the film, I relied on the unpredictable moments and scenarios we could react to. If Chloe felt like she was following the rigidity of a shot list, I feared it would affect the authenticity of her performance. The film starts at a destructive point in their relationship and pulls back through time, to when they were happiest. Chloe and I didn’t plan for when we were going to shift moods, it happened quite naturally. We used the time when we were physically drained from walking around the city, or when we both felt like being quiet on an empty subway train, to build on emotional distance from each other.
WIC: What was it about your lead that attracted you to her and how did you decide how to style her?
PA: I think it’s the compassion Chloe and I both share for reality in film that led me to write this idea for her. It is the brazenly honest moments in cinema that captivate me. I believe our beauty lies in our vulnerability and I feel most attracted to this characteristic in Chloe.
The aim of the film is to make the audience feel like they’re watching archival memories from a relationship that is dead and buried. Although the film isn’t assigned to a particular era, we used clothes that pay homage to the late 80’s/early 90s era. You may have noticed that the colour yellow becomes a significant motif as we pull back to a more positive place; this is something we considered for her wardrobe.
WIC: Why did you decide on a 4:3 format?
PA: The 4:3 aspect ratio is a technical aid for making the film feel like home video footage. The cinematic quality of the film was not a priority for me and I felt this framing helped to deconstruct the expectation the audience might have with widescreen or cinemascope, a frame we are most accustomed to in contemporary cinema.
WIC: Did you have any feelings from Cyndi Lauper’s ’Time After Time’ that affected you during the ideas stage?
PA: When I first heard Brolin’s cover of ‘Time After Time’, I really appreciated his commitment to the nostalgia Cyndi Lauper captures in the original song. I wanted to build on this overpowering feeling of audible melancholia by creating imagery that could have the same visual impact.