Master of Ceremonies

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Published August 26, 2009

 

To celebrate the upcoming August 30 opening of their Tokyo outpost, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony have commissioned a three-part series of short films from directors Joe DeNardo, Matt Wolf, and M Blash starring Chloe Sevigny (whose designs are featured in the store), Jason Schwartzman, and Gus Van Sant and Jena Malone, respectively. Blash’s contributionâ??a mostly inscrutable, weirdly compelling clip of the middle-aged director and the decidedly not middle-aged actress taking a very strange nap in sylvan Oregonâ??cried out for explanation:

 

Caroline Bankoff: I just watched the video. Can you explain what’s going on?

 

M Blash:  I just had a really short amount of time to make it and I was sent some Pendleton clothing.  I just sort of made it up. I got the clothes and Jena and Gus were available for a day.  Jena came down from Vancouver or British Columbia, where she is making a movie.  Gus is a neighbor of mine in Portland.

 

CB: Did you pick the clothes yourself?

 

MB: They just wanted me to use some Opening Ceremony Pendleton stuff, so they sent me a box. But I didn’t go to the store and pick anything. There was a Pendleton jacket that looked exactly like a Pendleton sweater, and I immediately thought that Jena should be wearing both.  I wanted the garment to represent the same garment, but in a different sort of state of consciousness. I sort of thought she was wearing the sweater, but in this dream that she’s having where she’s watching herself like, laying across this man’s lap. I liked the idea of the old man ignoring this young woman, who’s androgynous, lying across his lap.

 

CB: Any reason he’s ignoring her?

 

MB:  He’s obviously preoccupied and mesmerized by this cacophonous orb that’s floating around him.  I just thought it was, like, silly, and Jena’s doing an action movie with Zach Snyder, so she’s going through all this combat training.  So, I thought we should incorporate some of that.  There’s really no concept. People think it’s really random and funny, so I’m glad.

 

CB: How does Gus take direction?

 

MB: Not very well.  Because he’s incrediblyâ??he’s really hard on himself when it comes to acting. So, the second I started directing him in terms of following this fake orb around he was like, “No M, you have to go this way. You have to put a laser on a board in front of me.” I was like, “I can’t put a laser on a board in front of you, because we’re shooting on a green screen and we can’t have a board in front of the camera.”  So, I just sort of talked him through it.  Actually, he takes direction fine.  We actually are strangely competitive, even though he is in a completely different league than I am. 

 

CB: Competitive as director/neighbors?

 

MB: Yeah, and it’s a small film community in Portland and we all just give each other shit all the time about everything we do.  I mean, it’s really fun and loving, but it’s just funny.  I think he was nervous too.

 

CB: How did you end up getting him to move his eyes properly without the laser?

 

MB: Oh, I just kept moving the camera and talked him through it.  He was just imagining it lot further away from his face.  I was like, “You just have to imagine it’s an annoying buzzing, glowing fly right in front of you.” I just sort of talked to him about it.