Photographer Manon Macasaet Isn’t Going to Let the Big Bad Wolf Interfere with Her Personal Fairy Tale
As the singer Aaliyah once pointed out, “Age ain’t nothing but a number.” That being said, it’s hard to fathom that photographer and filmmaker Manon Macasaet is only 19-years-old. Growing up in the village as a child of the New York City boutique, VFiles (where she interned as a teen), Macasaet now shoots regularly for the brands Stussy and X-Girl, all while finding the time to go to school, throw parties and make short films. Her latest film, Big Bad Wolf, My Recent Experience with Romance, which recently premiered at Anthology Film Archives, is a seven-and-a-half-minute tale about about a milkshake, with two straws, going sour. Scored and shot by her best friend, whom she also met at VFiles, Big Bad Wolf is told in the time-old framework of Little Red Riding Hood.
Can you tell me a little about what inspired this film?
A number of things. I’m a firm believer in romance and, especially, milkshakes with two straws. There’s really nothing more romantic in my book. I had recently gotten a taste of both. It ended up being a disaster, but I don’t regret one bit of it. I was way in over my head with a boy and coming face to face with a lot of feelings I hadn’t had before. That, and the series of events leading up to and following it, is what inspired Big Bad Wolf. It was also a spur of the moment thing. I was using the costume for another shoot I was doing and immediately pictured myself sharing a milkshake with it.
The story of Little Red Riding Hood can be read as a tale of rebirth, with the evil wolf being defeated and red riding hood cut from the belly and reborn anew. Are there rebirth parallels in your take on the tale?
It’s hard to say. In real life, I feel pretty reborn. I’m not really tripping about the whole situation anymore. I made my movie. I’m good. You live and you learn. Next time, I’ll just acknowledge the wolf for what he truly is and mind my own business. I think this is more a story of a girl wanting to dive into something so badly that she fails to acknowledge the clear signs of danger that are obviously right in front of her. In reality, I am consistently looking for fairy tales in my life and sometimes creating them out of thin air, that’s probably why everything went wrong in the first place. Actually, no. Fuck the wolf. I’ll continue to look for fairy tales.
The real heart feels quite shocking as a prop. Everyone’s squeamish and vegan and juicing right now. Did you have other objects in mind for the heart?
It was a veal heart, and it was even more revolting in real life! [Laughs] Just kidding. Hearts are beautiful no matter what kind, but it smelled putrid, since we had been carrying it around all day long on a hot summer day. I wasn’t even thinking about all the vegan people watching my movie, hope you guys don’t mind. I initially thought a realistic heart prop could be cool with some good fake blood, but we didn’t have much time to go prop sourcing. I got the costume for the shoot, had the idea, and then only had the costume for one more day, so we had to work extra fast. I can’t even believe how we pulled it off in just one full day.
You shot it on VCR. The soundtrack is really earthy and rough. What motivated you to give the film this kind of tactile and human look and feel?
First, I’d like to say something about the soundtrack. My symbiotic sister, Sabrina [Fuentes], absolutely killed it. She took her time carefully writing a song that couldn’t be more perfect for the film! It almost makes me cry every time I give it a listen. She blows my mind. As for the look and feel of the movie, she also shot it, which is the reason for its intimate and human feel. Sabrina knows me better than most people, and she knew exactly how to do this. There’s just something different about doing things with your best friend. Doing things with close friends adds an undeniable vulnerability to what is being made, always. If it had been some random dude, I doubt we would have gotten any of the shots we did. It had to be my best friend, especially for the crying parts.
You and Sabrina must have had so many adventures growing up together. Is there one memory you have of times spent with her that you cherish more than others? When did you first meet?
It could be when we went to prom. That was really pure. I had skipped my prom, so I was really happy to take my BFF to hers. I remember thinking, “Wow, we’ve grown up so fast. It’s so beautiful that we are still here together.” I met Sabrina in 2014, right in front of VFiles, where we interned together. It was a sunny summer day and she was wearing a denim dress with her old light blue glasses that she doesn’t like to talk about. I love them though just because they were so her. Following that day, we went on to work together and hang out a lot at McDonald’s, where we would eat chicken nuggets with honey on them. Something, we learned from Danielle [Greco].
You’ve lived a lot of your life under the glare of Instagram. How does social media sit with you currently? How do you see it evolving?
I have mixed feelings on it. It’s been a great tool for me in terms of work. I think it does wonders in terms of communication and serving as a portfolio. It’s a powerful and fast way to share anything. At the same time, I think it’s invasive and a breeding ground for people to be as performative as possible. People are really calculated about their online persona and appearance, which I think makes it really impure. And since people can get “famous” on it so easily and the number just keeps growing, I think that area of influence will die out. If everyone is famous, no one is.
What are you up to currently? Are there any projects coming up this year you’re especially looking forward to?
I am currently in school. I also work as a contractual photographer for Stussy and X-Girl. I am also the PR manager for the US at X-Girl. I’m trying to get my ducks in a row there, but I also plan to release a couple mixed media books this year, potentially a new rom com. I’d would love to get back into ceramics and just keep doing my art as I do now. I just shot and directed a music video for Pretty Sick. Stay tuned, the song and video is a banger. What I really would not be opposed to is having a milkshake with two straws that doesn’t come with a side of disappointment.