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Graduating as a fashion filmmaker

The work of Fashion & Branding graduate Femke Huurdeman has struck the international fashion film scene.

The film aficionado entered AMFI’s first year thinking that she didn’t fit in among all our babbling girls. Someone who’d rather let her work speak for itself, she found herself often quietly observing in the background during classes. After surviving second year, Femke hit her stride in the Fashion & Visual Culture programme, joining forces with a bunch of other fashion film amateurs:

“Everybody is seeing how things go for the first time. You’re learning a lot in an incredibly short amount of time. What I valued most was the chance to develop my own personal vision and style. Actually one of the biggest critiques of my products had been not keeping my own vision out of my work: ‘Well, you see immediately that it’s you who’s made it.”

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Femke and fellow Branders on the set of Dinky Virus.

The mirthful joy and rampant playfulness peculiar to childhood doesn’t just get ‘appreciated’ overnight. That’s no clearer than in Femke’s latest work and graduation project (which was awarded a 9) titled ‘Pippin and the Pursuits of Life’.

Femke has always been inspired by youth and gaeity personified in the innocent minds of children. This story inside a story tells the many motley adventures of Pippin, a boy who spends his days making many people’s lives a little bit brighter. The collection of Dutch designer Maaike Fransen delightfully finds its way from the AFW runway to the mind of a young boy hearing a story read aloud by his father on a rainy evening.

During the interview back in February, I reacted enthusiastically to hearing Femke had received a personal email from Nick Knight. Pippin would be featured on the ShowStudio blog (in between articles about McQueen and Dior, to boot). Femke seemed to agree with Knight’s mantra that fashion is to be seen in movement, making the moving image more attractive than photography. When I asked her about her vision on where fashion film is going, she replied:

“The shift is now towards storytelling instead of just giving the impression of an atmosphere. In each stream you have trends or changes. For fashion brands you see already that they want to give you this entire personalised experience that’s totally authentic. You’re looking for something more sincere. I see the world of film as offering many more creative opportunities, especially being distributed online, short films are really up and coming.”

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Online, shareable, omnichannel, interactive – these are the buzzwords of the modern fashion content consumer. Many a fashion brand is interpreting film as a promotional tool; no doubt, some demanding higher levels of intelligence than others. I asked Femke for whom she’d like to make a fashion film, and after pondering Prada or Miu Miu, we landed on the topic of well-known Dutch brands and the fashion film landscape:

“It would be a nice challenge for me, combining a commercial with something very artistic. To keep the fashion feeling in films, and still create content of real value. That’s a new smart market on which to focus, in the Netherlands it’s just the beginning compared to places like London. I think brands should focus on making sales from authentic connections, as opposed to pushing ‘Shop Now’.”

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A still from Pas de Deux.

Last year the film Pas de Deux directed by Femke was an official selection at the LJFFF, this year Pippin and the Pursuits of Life is also an official selection. Pippin’s filmmaker won the 2015 Berlin Fashion Film Festival award for ‘Best Use of Fashion’. She also took home the prizes for Best New Director, Best New Fashion Film and Best New Brand/Designer at the Milan Fashion Film Festival. These days Femke is keeping her eyes open for a budding young designer to create her next uncommon work.

Visuals courtesy of Femke Huurdeman.
Interview by K.R. Waldbillig

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