In a groundbreaking concept video, Renli Su teamed up with jaclyn Bethany whose exceptional eye for storytelling through visuals complemented the brand's artistic vision flawlessly. The collaboration resulted in a breathtaking short film that transcended the conventional fashion showcase, offering viewers a unique and immersive experience.
The film brilliantly captured the essence of Renli Su's designs, revealing the interplay of textures, colours, and intricate details in a magical narrative. The cinematographer's expertise in crafting compelling visuals harmonised seamlessly with the brand's identity, elevating the garments into pure works of art.
Throughout the video, the audience was transported into a dreamlike world, where Renli Su's garments became the focal point of a mesmerising tale. With each scene carefully crafted and thoughtfully composed, the video showcased the versatility and depth of the brand's collections, as well as the emotional impact of their designs.
We interviewed Jaclyn to tell us more about this Project.
Can you tell us about the Yellow Bird project and how it came to be?I feel like I had an idea for this story but it all came together when Renli Su came on board. I had recently moved to New Orleans and was really inspired by the landscape. The idea of the sense of freedom, and the many poets/writers that have flocked to the New Orleans area as an idyllic haven. I wanted the film to feel contemporary and poetic, in tune with the world we were creating, the clothes and the character.
What inspired you to collaborate with the brand Renli Su for this project? I became aware of Renli Su through a film I directed in the UK last year, Tell that to the Winter Sea, co-written with Greta Bellamacina. Our production designer, Nina Scott-Smith worked with Renli and put us in touch. We ended up using some of the pieces — and I thought they were beautiful. I recognized something similar aesthetically between myself and the brand, that I thought I could explore narratively and visually. So I think that led to the collaboration!
How do you envision the intersection of fashion and storytelling within the Yellow Bird project? I think costume and art direction is incredibly important in film, and something that is often overlooked. I actually used to work in fashion, and one of the reasons I got into filmmaking is film combined many elements I thought were my interests and strengths. I think with The Yellow Bird we were really able to tell a story that blossomed through the fashion showcased in the film. As the character grows into her new sense of self, what she wears becomes more free. I remember one of the first descriptions that was sent to me by Renli was “finding treasure” — wetranslated this into our heroine discovering a magical wardrobe full of Renli Su treasures. It was informative to engage directly with the clothes and accessories as an extension of the script, because usually on bigger projects, I am approving everything and working with a costume designer. However, this project we really had to focus on the clothes to help tell the story, which I loved.
What themes or messages do you hope to convey through the collaborative work between Yellow Bird and Renli Su?
I hope that it feels as if we are showing a strong, independent woman who is not afraid of her choices or her freedom,. She is discovering the simple beauty in her day as the film goes on. The film also represents a bit of a transitory period, something of a dream within a dream and that abstractness was fun to explore, and also the theme of transition is something every woman can relate to. The yellow bird itself is actually a swamp bird, which is only found in the bayous of Louisiana. I thought that was beautiful and a good emblem for the film. I wanted the film to feel entirely unique but also cohesive with the Renli Su girl.
Can you share some insights into the creative process of bringing together the worlds of fashion and storytelling in this project?
I was lucky enough to work with my frequent collaborator Irene Gomez-Emilsson as my cinematographer, and we explored some beautiful films as inspiration. Films such as Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), Elizabeth (1999), Marie Antoinette (2006), Bright Star (2009) and The Beguiled (2017) — these are films that have strongly impacted me as a filmmaker, I remember exactly where I was the first time I watched each of them. All of these films are visually beautiful, with a hint of mystery. I was also lucky to work with Elizabeth Yeoman who appeared in the film, she is studying at Juilliard in New York City. Elizabeth is a dear friend and actually both Irene and Elizabeth had been to New Orleans before for my wedding. Both women had some familiarity with the city and culture but it was nice to see them experience it in a more intimate way. I thought Elizabeth encompassed the uniqueness of the yellow bird, and had the qualities of the character as well as the Renli Su girl. So, really it was just me and Irene sort of bouncing back ideas and sharing them with the Renli Su team after I had the script and building the world from there. It felt special to have creative autonomy and create such a wonderful collaboration with the Renli Su team.
What challenges did you face while working on the Yellow Bird project, and how did you overcome them?I think it was challenging working in a new place, as I’d recently moved, and trying to build a small team having not directed a film in the area before. We found the right people, so I just kept being persistent and convincing potential collaborators that this was a special project! I think that is always challenging as people do not know you or your work. I was also worried about a location, but we were lucky enough to shoot at a stunning cottage a bit outside the city and once I found this, I wrote the script with this space in mind. Irene and I also began shooting the film like a narrative feature. Meaning we were shooting about 4-5 different set ups per scene, and then realized we did not need to do this. It was a funny realization because shooting on this scale does not require the same kind of approach you’d have on a feature film. So we had to adapt!
How do you see the collaboration between Yellow Bird and Renli Su contributing to the overall artistic landscape?I think and hope there is a thru line within my work, a thread that you can tell that I directed it. That has definitely evolved. I went to film school and finished with a Master’s in 2018, and I think even from then, my work maybe feels somewhat the same but also feels completely different. It was rewarding to apply my visual and narrative storytelling skills to a short fashion film, because I am used to working on much longer, extensive processes - and it was exciting to see that my style could translate in this way. The way I shoot is very much a product of the moment and through discovering different things on the day. Sometimes things are super planned but with Irene I always end up shooting this way, which I think gives a special quality to the feel of each project.
In what ways does the Yellow Bird project align with your personal artistic vision and storytelling style?I was really excited to shoot something in the South, where I am from. I had actually never directed a piece in the Southeast, only produced/written or appeared in projects shot here. So I thought that would add something to my own filmmaking journey. I feel, artistically, very much drawn to many of the great storytellers from the South - Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, Harper Lee, William Faulkner. I think you can really feel this influence through the poem within the piece. The South is a very unique place, and I wanted that otherworldly feeling to permeate throughout the film. I think I’ve always felt “other” or “unique” which can come with positive and negative experiences. This is something that I often try to explore within my films. I think as mentioned before I try to allow for freedom and experimentation within my work, although things are scripted.
What elements from Renli Su's brand identity and design aesthetics did you incorporate into the storytelling aspect of the project?I love how romantic and ethereal the clothes are, and also how beautifully they are made. The clothes feel very free and not restricting. The Renli Su girl feels joyful, effortless and full of curiosity, discovering the beauty around her every day, and this is something we wanted to explore in the film.
Tell us about your future plans and projects so people can follow you.I am excited to launch this film and hopefully make more fashion films! I have three feature films set for release in the next year. One is the previously mentioned Tell that to the Winter Sea, starring Greta (Bellamacina) and Amber Anderson. It is set up with UK Distributor Kaleidoscope and we are going to play festivals and then it will be released in UK cinemas. It is a story of female friendship with an all female cast - why is this so unique, we need more of this! I also have two additional feature films genre piece Before the World Set on Fire and queer love story The Invisible Girl, which will be released by Bohemia in the UK later this year.