A triangle may well be the strongest geometric shape, but when it comes to relationships three is rarely the magic number. Charting the blossoming honeymoon moments of early infatuation through to the emotional distance and resentment of jealousy, Alexan Sarikamichian’s COSMOS rides shotgun with a trio of beautiful teens as they fall in and out of love. Alexan explains how a strong affection for Chivilcoy, the town of his childhood summer holidays, and a love of the fashion film form led to this road trip story of complicated nascent love.
What triggered this teenage road trip story?
I was inspired by love, and I wanted to show something young, some kind of fantasy story. When I wrote the script I already had a lot of written scenes, but I knew some would be left out when shooting. Other scenes were transformed, because I believe there is something special present at the moment you shoot a scene. It was a little bit of an improvisation work; I could see how the actors interacted with each other and the way the story started to flow. Some things we discussed with all the actors, for example: the characters’ attitude and the profiles they should have.
How did you fund the project?
For COSMOS I requested the collaboration of the Department of Culture from Chivlicoy, Adrian Vila was the manager at this time. I did it in a very short notice but they were very helpful. As I have some family in Chivilcoy I also received great support from them, they gave us a place to stay and even prepared a barbecue for the whole team!
What led you to adopt a fashion film/vignette structure for COSMOS?
COSMOS for me is special because it was filmed in a beloved place, Chivilcoy, a place where I used to spend my summers during my childhood. It is a memory I have really stuck to my grandmother’s love LALA, and the video is dedicated to her. I wanted to film something that is visually beautiful. I approached fashion filming, because I worked a lot in video art, in the colors and costumes and I chose two models as actors. I have fun making videoclips and I feel I can really show my stuff in a very free way. On the other hand, if I had done a short film, it would have taken me much more time and that was something I didn’t have, and I also think that some natural things you can accomplish in videoclips may not happen in a short film. The format combination gave me the opportunity to do a project in a short and fast time because I wanted to show my premiere as a director.
I do not have much technical knowledge, to me this means directing is a trial and error test for myself.
Were there any particular aesthetic references which inspired the film’s look?
I get inspired a lot by fashion, that’s why I chose to work with models such as Nicolas Lorenzon, Alex Ferrario and Stefania Koessl who worked on El Clan – I think she is lovely. I get inspired by people and filming outdoors. The actors had a very strong look. When I met Alex I realized that he was special, he was one of the main motivations of the video. I thought he was like an angel and his charisma was beyond physical beauty.
Choosing the costumes was also a great inspiration – to work with the fashion of the video. I chose special colors to go with the characters and with each of the locations and moments the actors were going through. As there was no dialogue, everything had to be visually striking to provide the image with more value than the soundtrack. I really pay attention to the details. I received some comments that the videoclip had an aesthetic reference to Los Amores Imaginarios by Xavier Dolan. I saw that film a long time ago, as well as Mommy and I found them both amazing.
There’s a naturalistic feel to Sebastian Ferrari’s cinematography, what was your collaboration process like?
I do not have much technical knowledge, to me this means directing is a trial and error test for myself. I work a lot with the director of photography, in this case Sebastian Ferrari, who understood the colors, framing and the story I wanted to tell. I tried to make the colors work but I realised it was completely different from what I had imagined and I had to do it all over again, but during the shoot I received Sebastian’s help, who has a similar view to my style and we managed to get what I really wanted, he is a very talented person. We had a very small team for COSMOS: one costume designer, the director of photography, two production assistants who took turns, and myself directing and also producing.
The story unfolds predominantly outdoors, did that cause any issues during the shoot?
As we were mostly outdoors and in a natural area, we were relying on the weather. Two days before shooting it rained a lot and we had to cancel. That was a big problem because the roads were very wet and muddy and we had to wait till it was dry again. I started looking for replacements and postponed everything for a week. Luckily everything went back to normal and I could work with the original actors, enjoying what we were doing during a lovely day. Contact with nature and the good energy the group had helped as well.
COSMOS has gained a fair amount of traction in the online fashion world, how did that come about?
The video premiered exclusively in a digital magazine called Fucking Young from Barcelona. For me it was great because I’m a fan of it. The next day I launched it on social networks, and what happened was that the fashion of the video, plus the fact that the boys were models created an impact on other fashion sites that uploaded the video and photos. This was kind of a casual situation, I’m not a photographer, but I took two disposable Kodak cameras with me so as not to waste time and took pictures whenever I could. They turned out really beautiful and a perfect complement to make the work more complete since they began to be shared on Instagram, blogs and other social media sites.