Jazzmine Berger - Interview Project No#4

The Interview project is a new personal project by which I interview models I meet at castings or that I have worked with in the past. The interview is then processed into a shoot idea and offered as images rather than words. Hopefully the result has neither the insincerity of advertising nor the narcissism of self published social media.

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Jazzmine or Jazz was an interview subject that found me. I was sitting in my study one afternoon and started to notice a precession of beautiful wicker furniture being marched past my window in the street outside. From my seat, and considering the hight of the window, the chairs seemed to be marching unassisted. This filled my short attention span with a bouquet of pressing questions. Who was the owner of such a prolific collection of wicker furniture and where was it going. This was the first of many sightings (from my office window). Jazz is a mysterious neighbour. One day a train of wicker chairs the next a femme fatal leather skirt, dark glasses and a pram (it was a while before I could confirm the pram was caring a child). My imagination unavoidably started to fill in the blanks.
In the end her agency put an end to my spying when they sent me her portfolio and asked for a go see to which I casually accepted. Of course when we met she immedialty replaced her mysterious outward appearance with a warm, easy to like, personality. I suggested the interview project to her and she lit up immediately. A chance to dress up in fictional characters that somehow and mostly vaguely had some meaning to her life at this moment. I realised, of course, that the only change was that now that I had arrived with my camera there was someone to take pictures of a role play that was essentially a daily occurrence. We had a lengthy conversation and although we spoke about many things (in her Swedish/French/American accent) it somehow always came back to the opportunity to play “dress up” with my neighbour. 

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The interview was shot on location at the restaurant “The Moveable Feast”. Here we are introduced to a waitress from the mid west, a New York talent agent (and one time performer), a medicated afternoon martini drinker and a mistress. The day passed, outfits changed, characters were introduced and the mood swung like a bowl of keys at a 70’s fondu party. Throughout the day and with every change Jazz would adopt the Stanislavski method and stay in character from the moment she put on the outfit until she changed again. It has been a while since I played with the neighbourhood gang and I had forgotten how much fun it could be!

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Quick five…

1. What do you most like to do with the time that is your own?

JB: Put on some good music and dance 

2. What do you most look forward to in the future?

JB: To see my daughter keep blossoming, romance and everyday beautiful adventure. 

3. What scares you?

JB: The unknown, which at times can also be exciting.

4. What is you favourite meal?

JB: Almost anything with cheese on it. 

5. What qualities attract you in another person? 

JB: Le regard!

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Massive thank you to Jazzmine Berger for absolutely taking over and setting up the entire play day. Styling, script, location, catering and wrap party all thanks to Jazz. Also much appreciation goes out to Vincent John for the use of his bistro The Moveable Feast and for the hang over the following day.

Charlbi Dean Kriek - Interview Project N0#3

The Interview project is a new personal project by which I interview models I meet at castings or that I have worked with in the past. The interview is then processed into a shoot idea and offered as images rather than words. Hopefully the result has neither the insincerity of advertising nor the narcissism of self published social media. 

I have known Charlbi Dean since she was 14 and already a busy working woman. I have had the rare opportunity to work with her over the years and was thrilled to be passing through the same city and to get the opportunity to interview her. 

Her Instagram bio says it all “You know they’s a kind of bird that don't have legs so it can't light on nothing but has to stay all its life on its wings in the sky?”. It’s an excerpt from “Orpheus Descending”, a play by Tennessee Williams*, and does well to describe the shape Charlbi Deans life has to it.

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I met with Charlbi at Molten Toffee, a little coffee shop on Kloof street in her home town of Cape Town. I have been following Charlbi’s career since the beginning and was already pretty certain as to how I wanted the interview to go. I had photographed her as a model before but now was vastly more inquisitive about her blossoming acting career. The idea is simple. One scene shot in a car. Charlbi’s character is coming from an experience prior to the scene that has brought her to an emotional summit. She plays the emotion all the way through to conclusion in the car without a single line of dialogue. What better way to simply celebrate an actors skill. 

Whether we believe in an inspiration bearing muse or that ideas come from an accumulation of our life’s experiences, either way, we can agree that there is something deep inside that is hard to identify that fuels our creative offerings. I have had this theme present in so many unfinished ideas for a while now. I have folders hidden among locked away hard-drives, boxes of note books with romantically penned out-lines of photo essays, book ideas and short films, all revolving around one simple theme: Triumph over sadness or more specifically, that the experience of each emotion (sadness and happiness) is the very reason for the others existence. This scene (below) with Charlbi is the perfect opportunity to see that theme realised. 

It feels great to eventually “have a good cry” (and get it down on camera). I can not express enough the extent of the talents I found myself surrounded by. Charlbi who just seemed to turn up and without any effort or elevation of importance manage to transform the idea into an outstanding reality. We shot three takes of the scene and each one begs to be its own unedited version, perfect from beginning to end. I only realised afterwards that she had also delivered all three performances with perfect continuity. If she pushed her hair back at 1 minute in the first take she again pushed her hair back at roughly one minute in takes two and three. Anyone who has ever attempted editing will know how helpful this is for the flow of narrative between camera angels. Thank you Charlbi for a lesson in acting and in film making. You can catch Charlbi currently staring as Syonide in the second season of DC comics Black Lighting. Also a massive thank you to Nicol Dippenaar who was on camera for the film. His empathy for performance and his talent to risk convention for a more real experience are outstanding.

  Charlbi  on set the set of a fashion story we shot together earlier in the year . Make up artist  Kelly Paitaki

Charlbi on set the set of a fashion story we shot together earlier in the year . Make up artist Kelly Paitaki

 A pic from our fashion editorial.

A pic from our fashion editorial.

 On set filming

On set filming

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No interview with Charlbi would be complete without acknowledging her physical training. Charlbi is a machine! She does her own stunts and kills it in the boxing gym! The images below were shot at Gina’s Den a little hard core fight gym in Parklands on the west coast of South Africa. 

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*  Excerpt from “Orpheus Descending” by Tennessee Williams continued… “That's true. I seen one once, it had died and fallen to earth and it was light blue colored and its body was tiny as your little finger, that's the truth, it had a body as tiny as your little finger and so light on the palm of your hand it didn't weigh more than a feather, but its wings spread out this wide but they was transparent, the color of the sky and you could see through them. That's what they call protection coloring. Camouflage, they call it. You can't tell those birds from the sky and that's why the hawks don't catch them, don't see them up there in the high blue sky near the sun.”

A massive thank you to Charlbi Dean Kriek for her time and talent.

All images: Justin Polkey

Directing & Editing: Justin Polkey

DOP: Nicol Dippenaar

Production Assitant: Reece Menteath

Angelina Jesson - Interview Project N0#2

Angelina Jesson was the very first interview project. The project started in London in September of 2016 and then sat on a hard drive while I figured out how I wanted to approach it. The interview brought up so much potential for interesting content that I got stuck on how to proceed. The temptation was to go deeper into the life of the interviewee and become the proverbial fly on the wall or perhaps more appropriately the ever watching camera in her device. Life took over and before I knew it the moment had past. A few years on I look at the images again and realised that there was more there in that single meeting than I had originally thought.

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Around the time of the interview I had met Angelina at a go-see at her agency. She was brand new to modelling but no stranger to performing. Having been born in England she moved to California at the age of three and then onto New York until she was thirteen at which point she returned to London. She had started acting at 6 years old, an early influence that would eventually lead her to getting involved in performance art later in life. The details in between are complicated and hard to follow. Perhaps its enough to say that she has had three different passports each under a different name, attended both the Brit school and Central St Martins and has grown to love the things about herself that as a child she had thought were faults. When we met at Shepards Bush market (a choice I had left to her) she was very involved with her and her collaborators project  https://www.jesson-hill.com. An explanation of this by me would defiantly not do it justice so I take the easy route and suggest you follow the link and experience it for yourself. 

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If I had set out to discover interesting people behind “the image” I now realise that Angelina was probably the perfect candidate to start the Interview Project with. 

Angelina is a self confessed hoarder who collects found items such as corsets and snow globes. Her favourite colour is red. She likes to spend her free time strolling markets where she finds comfort amongst randomness. She is a morning person who enjoys a bath over a shower. She is optimistic without expectation and loves the idea of newness. Her preferred mode of transport is a bicycle. She describes herself as a floating head. She has “wonky teeth”, pronounced eyebrows and some “spots” on her face (the characteristics that she had perceived as faults but now sees positively as her identity). She likes soft (squidgy) over hard, loud over quiet, supple over rigid  and hyper over mellow. If annoyed by anything it is likely to be herself and she dislikes dishonesty in other people. 

At the time of the interview the 5 soundtracks to her life were...

1) Unspoken Words : The Soil

2) Justify My Love: Madonna 

3) Bandy Bandy: Zap Mama 

4) Nude: Radiohead 

5) Inside My Love: Minnie Riperton

6) Spectrum: Gold Link 

7) Rose Rouge: st Germain 

8) Nadia: Nitin Sawhney

Angelina and I chatted for about an hour and then she introduced me to one of the markets she enjoys. On the way back to the tube station we walked past a London cafe and she treated me to a cup of tea. 

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A huge thank you to Angelina Jesson for her time and honesty (and for the cup of tea).

Angelina is represented by Premier Model Management

Giuliana Graul - Interview Project No#01

The Interview project is a new personal project in which I interview models I meet at castings or that I have worked with. The interview is then processed into a shoot idea. Hopefully the result has neither the insincerity of advertising nor the narcissism of self published social media.  Giuliana and I met at the power and glory, a somewhat famous coffee shop (by day) and industry watering hole by night. She was quiet and a little shy. Cape Town was her first trip as a model and everything was very new and perhaps far away from home. We chatted for a while and it became clear that she was going to spend as much time at the beach as possible. She didn't know anyone here and felt a little estranged. Without her friends life was going to have to be a series of beach, gym and castings. Hey rather that than cold, winter in Germany, though I don't think that she was quite convinced yet. 

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 When the day of the shoot came I met a very different Giuliana, she had been here a while now and the paradise that Cape Town can be had charmed her. She had also made a lot of new friends and was enjoying the music festival scene that the city supports every summer. It is a pity i didn't get to photograph some of those moments but still I think the new confidence and contentment comes across in the short story we shot together.

When the day of the shoot came I met a very different Giuliana, she had been here a while now and the paradise that Cape Town can be had charmed her. She had also made a lot of new friends and was enjoying the music festival scene that the city supports every summer. It is a pity i didn't get to photograph some of those moments but still I think the new confidence and contentment comes across in the short story we shot together.

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We had decided after our chat that the beach was definitely going to be a good reflection of Giuliana (at least while here in Cape Town). Just before saying goodbye Giuliana added, probably after becoming a little more comfortable with me, a complete stranger, that she also really liked to sing. So armed with a rough sketch of this shy young German model on her first trip abroad I headed of to put together our interview project. 

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I had almost forgotten but after the shoot just before Giuliana left I filmed a short video of her singing what she told me was called "the cup song". Intrigued I hit record and sat back. I was immediately taken aback by her voice. I had no idea she could sing like this. Had I known we probably would have never made it to the beach for our interview. Perhaps I would have tried my hand at directing a music video.

A huge thank you to Giuliana Graul for her time. To Emma Jane Menteath for her help with styling. To Rory Springthorpe for his help and patience in teaching me how to get around Adobe premier edit suite and to Outlaws models