Q and A with Ben Akers, The Writer/Director of “Alex James Slowing Down Fast Fashion” His film was winner of Best Fashion Documentary at LFFF 2016.
Q. How and when did you become interested in filmmaking?
A. I’m a telly and film addict. I love and always have been. Even as a kid my mum used to have to drag me away from the TV kicking and screaming to get me to go to bed. So that’s where my obsession began. Whether it’s fictional or factual, I’ve always been fascinated by people and stories, so becoming a Writer/Director was always a bit of a dream. And at 40 my dream came true. As this was the first feature I wrote and directed.
Q. Why make a fashion film?
A.I didn’t actually mean to create a fashion film. This was created to be a film about people and how their fashion choices effect the environment. So it’s actually an environmental film. How most of us don’t really know what fibres we are wearing and what effect fast disposable fashion has on our planet.
Q. What makes fashion film different to other film genres?
A. Fashion is positive, it’s exciting, it’s expressive and it’s individual. I wanted to create a positive solution based film, as isn’t that the ultimate expression –wearing clothes with purpose.
Q. How did you cast this film “Alex James: Slowing Down Fast Fashion”? What were you looking for in your characters?
A. When it came to casting Alex, I was looking for someone who had a genuine interest in fashion and the environment and could talk to Gen X in a real way. So Alex was really top of the list. When it came to contributors, I wanted to find people who had a positive solution based story to tell, as most documentaries don’t deal with solutions, just problems.
Q. Do you have friends making movies as well and do you sense competition amongst you.
What do you think of their movies?
A. I have lots of friends doing far better films than I’ve created. They are the people I aspire to be like. And as long as they keep creating great films I know I can one day do that too.
Q. What was your original concept for making the film?
A. Can we make a positive film about fast fashion’s impact on the planet?!
Q. What was the biggest challenge for you in the process of making this film?
A. All of it. It was all new for me. So it was a massive learning curve. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by very experienced and talented people who had faith in me to let my follow what I thought the story was.
Q. How did you decide about clothing, jewellery and make up?
A. It didn’t really come up.
Q. What are the key elements to making an effective fashion film?
A. Like all films, working out why you are making this film and who you want to watch it.
Q. What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers?
A. Believe in yourself and surround yourself with talented people. You can do it.