Logline: A young model must decide whether to acquiesce to a photographer's increasingly horrifying demands.
Length: 13 min
Director: Kevan Tucker
Producer: Andrew Corkin, Tim O'Neill, Jared Parsons, Bryan Reisberg, Kevan Tucker
Writer: Kevan Tucker
About the writer, director and producer:
Kevan Tucker's debut feature, The Unidentified, won Best Director at the Brooklyn Film Festival. He has directed a web series, Compulsive Love, and numerous shorts.
Andrew Corkin producing credits include Martha Marcy May Marlene and We Are What We Are. He and Bryan Reisberg are the founders of Uncorked Productions, whose credits include Big Significant Things, Wild Canaries and Emilie.
Tim O'Neill is an editor, producer, writer, director, in that order.
Jared Parsons is a national treasure. In his spare time he enjoys food, water, and shelter.
Key cast: Nicole Fox, Haaz Sleiman, Leah Rudick
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): Producers, Film Festival Directors, Distributors, Journalists
Funders: Made in association with: Crowdfunding on Indiegogo
Release date: Premiered at Fantasia in 2015
Where can I watch it? Dances With Films on June 3rd and Las Vegas Film Festival on June 8th.
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Because today's beauty standards are completely fucked. They have little to no relationship with reality. What's more, I think we're self-aware enough as a culture to know this. We know that the model on the billboard has spent 3 hours in makeup with two dozen makeup and wardrobe stylists and lighting specialists tending to her.
We know that some guy was hunched over his computer meticulously doctoring every blemish on her skin, making her eyes bigger and her legs longer. And yet we all still idolize that bizarre, false representation of a human being. We want to be like it or have sex with it regardless of how fictional we know it is.
So like a lot of satire, Ideal is a concoction of rage and exasperation. where your mind becomes so overwhelmed by the vastness of the problem that it can only laugh at it.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Because everyone could use a good rage laugh once in a while. It opens pores and expunges toxins.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
We worked very hard on balancing those two things. The genre is supposedly "horror" but the structure is much more satire with one painful and gory scene as the centerpiece.
It was always a concern that that scene would overwhelm the entire movie and it would just become a girl in her underwear getting cut up on a grill (I feel like satire is always in danger of becoming the very thing it's satirizing). So finding ways to emphasize the model's decision to agree to go through with it, and all the rest of the crew acting as if this was just a normal day on set was important.
It's easy to say "It's the media's fault!" or "It's the photographer's fault!" But there are actually a lot of forces at play. We are the people who throw our money at the products these things are advertising. We buy the magazines. It's a symbiotic relationship.
So finding humor and humanity, exploring the different sides of a complicated issue, all while not diluting the potent and shocking centerpiece (and doing it within 12 minutes) was the most difficult part.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
The script did not change much over the course of production. The hardest part was balancing the tone in shooting and editing.
It became important to cast people I found funny and I pretty much begged all of my friends in improv and sketch comedy to come and do small roles in the movie. We were able to find a lot of moments and details in the corners of the frame to maintain levity even as it dives headlong into horror.
Also, spending time with Nicole -- a model, actress and artist who won America's Next Top Model a few years ago -- was instrumental in helping me find details about the fashion world. I am very much not a model and hearing her perspective was great.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The feedback has been great. The movie plays especially well in front of an audience, and particularly ones that aren't turned off by a bit of blood. Once one person in the audience finds the humor of it, the rest of the crowd catches on pretty quickly that they're allowed to laugh, which is really brings the movie to its optimal level of uncomfortability.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I have mostly been surprised at how intensely people react to gore. It's strange to sit in an editing room, knowing how all the makeup effects are done, watching footage over and over again. It numbs you. And then when you watch it with people and see them freaking out it's pretty satisfying. I also want to be like: "you know we didn't actually slice off bacon-sized strips of skin from this girl, right?" But, you know, movies are magic.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible onwww.wearemovingstories.com?
Exposure is important. It's very hard to get short films out there. Who watches a 12 minute movie outside of a film festival? I love shorts and I still only watch things on the internet if they involve cats or injuries. You guys seem to have a lot of films on here that intrigued me and I'm excited to be included in that.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Distributors, journalists and festival directors are key to Ideal's life. We're still in the middle of our festival run and are planning on doing more throughout the year before we release the whole thing online.
There is also a feature version of the movie that is a similar horror/satire of the fashion industry, which we're trying to get off the ground. It goes much deeper into questions about body image and envy and talent. So anyone who wants to see more blood and models, the opportunity is at your fingertips.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
There is nothing more satisfying than watching this movie with an audience and having them cover their eyes in horror and laugh at the same time. It never gets old.
I have no illusions about changing beauty standards, but if we can needle at people's fears a little bit then I'll be happy.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
I think we all need to think about how divorced our culture's beauty standards are from reality. And I think we need to actually examine where those come from. It feels to me like a lot of these standards come from a place of submission. You know, the whole Beauty is Pain adage.
Beauty is such an encompassing force in our world that we attribute other traits to it. We laugh at attractive people's jokes more. We think thinner people are harder workers. And I suppose there are roundabout ways you can connect beauty to all of those attributes.
But my suspicion is that we give a lot of leeway to people we want to have sex with. It's a powerful thing, which is why people are willing to endure a lot to achieve this bizarre, random thing we have all agreed on as "beauty."
Would you like to add anything else?
Everyone should watch more Twilight Zone episodes. I think the world would be a better place.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
As I mentioned before we are trying to get a feature off the ground that stems from this short. It's called Spare and it might be the first movie to combine existential doppelganger paranoia with foot fetishists. So there's that.