A prominent, self-made photographer whose subjects have included the likes of Beyonce, Pharrell and Kanye, Driely “D” Carter’s ethos of pushing her work beyond the lauded achievements of yesterday, in order to continually evolve as an artist is stunningly captured by filmmaker Nina Meredith in portrait piece Friendly Ghosts. A candid and layered film which spans documentary, art, photography and experimentation, DN asked Nina to share how she created a visual aesthetic in keeping with Driely’s work, whilst getting the photographer to speak frankly on the other side of the camera for the first time about the demons that haunt her.
This film was a rare and exciting opportunity that came to me by way of Daniel Navetta at Bryght Young Things, self-maded Jeff Staple. I was asked to cast and film a NYC based self made artist, a “hustler”. Around the same time this brief came, a mutual friend introduced me to Driely Carter- a brilliant, self made photographer from Brazil. Driely immediately struck me as one of the most creative and audacious photographers I had ever met. She captures breathtaking images, working with a range of interesting formats: expired film, medium and large format cameras and 19c tintype photography.
The challenge was coming up with an authentic and intimate artistic language and tone that both Driely and myself would be proud of. At the core, both of our work points to the human connection, through photographs, which is why we connected as people and artists. Having a degree in film photography made this project especially personal.
Conceptually, I knew I wanted the film to have an essay style basis and read as Driely’s self portrait. I wanted her to feel like we took her ethos and style into consideration. Partnering with Cinematographer Logan Triplett, who has a surrealistic and compelling aesthetic was a very intentional decision as he had the conceptual style I was looking for. Together, we spent a significant amount of time thinking up abstract, experimental and non-defining ways to film Driely – using a handful of techniques and filmic approaches that ignited the art kid in us both.
Stylistically, I knew I wanted to use black and white 16mm film and a roll of Kodak vision 3 color film, to be used in the darkroom, which had the range to capture the bright, red hues that naturally fill the dark room. Utilizing Orzo 64 b&w film stock was our decision to capture a naturally higher contrast look that we wanted to pair with Logan’s SR3 camera. Our technical, location and framing choices served as a homage to the timeless photography that we had studied in Driely’s body of work.
Driely immediately struck me as one of the most creative and audacious photographers I had ever met.
The creative production decisions also carried over to post production. From having my editor, Alvaro Del Val, on set carefully studying each frame, to hiring a classically trained music composer, Michael Picton, who was able to nod at the 19th century artistic inspiration for Driely’s work, to the producer, Sean Lyness who had also studied film photography, to our seasoned colorist, Ayumi Ashley- everyone was carefully brought on to this project for their creative collaboration and for their appreciation of art. And their art elevated mine.
These are the types of films I look back on and feel proud of. The timeless nature, the intimate capture and the relationships that were formed were well worth it.
Friendly Ghosts is one of the many great projects shared with the Directors Notes Programmers through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them submit your film.