Walk A Day In the Sneakers of These Four Rising New York Filmmakers
GARAGE tapped four of New York’s most promising young directors to create short films realizing a day in the life of Gucci’s new Ultrapace sneaker. Created by GARAGE for Gucci.
Sometimes it helps to start at the end. At least, that’s how filmmaker Mary Evangelista came up with the concept for “Easy,” the short story she wrote and directed in collaboration with Gucci and GARAGE this summer. “I wanted to set the ending of the story at the beach and thought, where would be the furthest place I could make two people come from?, and it was the desert, so I built it out from there.” She adds, “I also wanted to shoot [people] eating chicken nuggets as part of the story.”
The result is a heartfelt little movie that tells the story of two girls finding a car (“a ’70s muscle car that was a beast”) and running away to the beach, with interludes of karaoke and of course, eating chicken nuggets. The 30-year old Filipino-born filmmaker is currently writing a feature-length film based on her short film, Fran This Summer, that was at Sundance this year, and also won the Grand Jury Prize at Outfest. “[Telling] a story that also moves people in some way is one of the most satisfying and best feelings, it’s probably what a musician feels in a concert,” she confesses. And just like a musician, she also allows the circumstances and environment to influence her process. “The camera [we used to shoot] this film was so old and wonky that it caught everything in slow motion,” she explains. “Since I couldn’t sync sound properly, I made the first half more experimental, like a music video.” The result is a dreamy sequence that immediately sets the mood and tinges the whole film with a sense of melancholy. She adds, “it worked like kismet.”
Before becoming a filmmaker, Pepi Ginsberg was a musician. First as a solo artist, and eventually as part of a band called Companio. “Someway half-way through my music career, I realized filmmaking would be a better medium to work in,” the Connecticut native tells GARAGE. “It’s funny, it is a choice,” she says about her need to pivot from one storytelling medium to another, “but it felt like a very natural progression. It’s the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve done."
The project with Gucci presented the perfect opportunity for Ginsberg to explore a world she was always curious about, Motocross. “I’ve always been attracted and wanted to do something with [it],” she explains. “I contacted some folks on Instagram and through [them] I was able to find the riders, and all of the locations.” In her short film Lifted, Ginsberg let the lives of the women in the film influence the plot. “The project for the Ultrapace [sneaker] was always to feature these two women, what drove them to ride, and what riding meant to them in their daily lives,” she explains. That means dreamy shots of the women riding through sand dunes, the fine dust rising around them like magic, the resulting story is about friendship, but also staying true to the things you love. “The details of where we shot, what they talked about, and what we explored in the edit and with the story, changed as we moved through filming." She adds, "Their [stories] were fundamental."
Ginsberg still has one year left at NYU Tisch’s Graduate Film program, but she’s still leaving room to fulfill her dreams. If she wasn’t a filmmaker, she says, “I’d [love to] pursue my lifelong goal of owning a cheese shop.”
“When I was applying for colleges, I couldn’t think of anything else to major in except for film,” 25-year old filmmaker Madeline Leshner tells GARAGE. “I got into photography when I was in middle school and took a summer class at a community college, and for our final project we could do whatever we wanted,” The California native explains, “All the past examples the teacher showed us were stop-motion films, and seeing what was possible with just still images kind of blew my mind.”
“From that point onward I think I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to make movies.”
Getaway, the film she created in collaboration with Gucci and GARAGE, features an unlikely casting in one of the lead roles, her dog Johnny Cash. “I recently adopted Johnny Cash and I knew I wanted to give him a big part,” she says. Luckily, Cash was up to the task, summoning emotions of guilt and joy throughout the film that give the story its heart. It’s obvious Leshner has come a long way from her first film experiments: “I used my parents’ home-video camera to film my Beanie Babies doing different things, [like] saving other Beanie Babies from fires.”
Filmmaker Sebastian Sdaigui always knew he wanted to be a filmmaker. The 30-year old California native once made an unofficial music video for Jay Z’s and Kanye West’s “Gotta Have It,” that featured “kid versions” of the two rappers. “The video went viral, but ended up being taken down a couple months later by Def Jam,” Sdaigui explains. “Fast forward several years later, I then became the Content Creator at Def Jam.” He adds, “It’s kind of funny how some things work out."
For his short film Schmood, created in collaboration with Gucci and GARAGE, Sdaigui and his friend and collaborator Carol Garlick worked together on the script and the scenes. “Carol and I knew that we wanted the films through line to be about self-love and being comfortable in your body,” he explains. “Our character had the choice to either kill or and dance. And obviously he danced.”
Shot on Doyers Street in New York’s Chinatown, the film buzzes with a specific energy that directly contrasts with the main character’s internal emotions, in a way it's almost like a the film is also dancing on its own. Sdaigui explains, “Projects like these are important because they allow an opportunity to show diversity and different perspectives from various walks of life.”
“This is how you begin to build dialogue, and create a community.”