Shot on a mix of super 16mm and 8mm, Brooklyn-based filmmaker Waley Wang channels the too cool for school swagger of the French New Wave in Julie & I – the story of a pair of co-dependent, fantasy living femmes whose closer than close friendship tips into the realm of toxicity. Enjoy the pastel pastiche of Julie & I below, after which Wang takes us behind the scenes of his whimsical anti-fashion flick.
Andrea Gavazzi (my DP & Producer whom I co-concepted with) and I were really entranced by the works of CANADA (especially Beyond Mountains, More Mountains) Andrea’s friend Matvey who did a really cool spot for Gucci, Rubberband, and a bunch other really fun videos, both artsy and corporate, that made their way into our unconscious. Stuff that played with pastel seamless backdrops, on-the-road adventures, storylines following female friendships, and poetic voice-over. We came up with the idea of two scatter-brained girls who are best friends but way too best friend-y with each other, where their ideas of fun are also really insecure. This was generally inspired by Daisies. The character names and general vibe of magic were inspired by Celine & Julie Go Boating and to a degree Jodorowsky.
The goal was to make a fashion-inspired short film with strong cinematic influences. The suitcase bit was totally lifted from Sweet Movie and the enormous amounts of B-Roll were inspired by older Japanese cinema. I really wanted to reject the main characters being manic pixies or Mary Sues so I wrote a darker vibe of conflict and malaise between the two to help with that.
Development took maybe a week – a week and a half with a couple scouts, the first draft I wrote in around three hours, pre-production took something around two weeks, and filming was four days I think, with a half day of wraps. Our Stylist Clem Therin, who in my mind has literally lived some of Julie & I in her life, was crucial in finding the stylistic looks and colorful, eye-popping wardrobes of the piece.
The goal was to make a fashion-inspired short film with strong cinematic influences.
We shot on an ARRI 416 camera and lit everything (including the Seamless scenes) with natural daylight where the most we had was just a bounce board. We improvised a lot during production – I like improvising and Andrea loves it even more. That was one of the best joys of making something with Andrea, even though we already had a concept “locked in” he encouraged an atmosphere of constantly coming up with new ideas. So we would get attached and film new shots and moments to eventually work into the fun vibe of what we had.
All of those pieces were then figured out in post where we really honed in on the concept. There was supposed to be a fantastical happy ending that we didn’t shoot. We also didn’t shoot a lot of those darker vibes I wrote so instead I re-wrote it into voice-over and my Editor Matt Schaff and I focused on the toxic co-dependency of the girls.
The most important vibes Matt believed and stuck true to for the piece was making it poppy and dreamy. Matt really discovered and restitched together the story inherent in what we shot. He did it in ways I couldn’t imagine that justified all of our improvisation on set. For the finish line, Josh Bohoskey and Evan Bauer at The Mill brought all of our pastel colors to life and Josh perfectly balanced it with the cooler urban elements.
As for future projects, I just wrapped up a music video for the Brooklyn-based group Cool Company for their upcoming track Halos. It should be released early March. I’m also planning a fashion short with Chinese American streetwear brand DAWANG New York.
Julie & I 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.